By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
LAGRANGE, Ga. – A nearly 20-point first half lead, late 10-0 run and 56 rebounds fueled a 73-61 victory as LaGrange (16-5, 10-2 CCS) downed Piedmont (12-9, 9-3 CCS) in an NCAA Division III women's basketball game on Tuesday, February 7.
Sophomore guard Zyhia Johnson (Homerville, Ga.) led three double-digit rebound efforts for the Panthers as she finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, hauling in six of the latter off the offensive glass. Freshman forward Amanda McLendon (Orlando, Fla.) ripped down 10 boards to go with four points in 17 minutes and senior guard Gracie Brunel (Broxton, Ga.) collected 10 caroms along with six points, four steals and three assists.
Freshman guard Laila Battle (Smyrna, Ga.) wasn't far behind with 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in 21 minutes off the bench and senior center Jada Strickland (Fairburn, Ga.) just missed a double-double with nine points and seven caroms. Senior forward Breonna Glover (Macon, Ga.) rounded out the top performers with nine points and a pair of blocks in just 16 minutes.
The teams would combine for just eight points over the first four minutes, deadlocking at 4-4, before a mini 4-0 run by Johnson gave them an 8-4 lead less than a minute later. Four straight free throws from PC knotted it up again but it would not last long as the Panthers closed the opening frame with a 10-4 burst for an 18-12 advantage after one.
Over the first 2:38 of the second period the tide would turn as the Lions scored nine of the first 12 points to pull even at 21-21. As is its wont, however, the tide goes the other direction as well and that would be the case over the next 5:17 as LaGrange scored nine straight as part of a 13-1 run that took them from even to up 34-21. Piedmont then would find their footing in the final minutes and brought the margin to 36-26 by the break.
LC would grow the lead to as much as 18 with a 44-26 lead with just 1:14 gone by in the third before Piedmont got off the deck. At that point five different scorers helped them put together a 19-5 run to narrow the gap to four, 49-45 with just over a minute left in the frame.
They would get no closer, however, as sophomore guard Britney Chavez (Birmingham, Ala.) nailed a three and Battle added a layup at the end of the quarter. Those buckets sparked a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 59-49 with 8:13 left, and while that margin would get no larger, it would only go below double digits once before the Panthers closed out the 73-61 victory.
Nakiyah Washington led the Lions with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds along with five steals while Destiny Deetz finished with six points and eight boards in 16 minutes off the bench. Laken Stiles and Ashley Scott added 10 and eight points, respectively, and Lu Woolfolk chipped in with five caroms and four assists.
As the Panthers hit the home stretch they are faced with their greatest challenge as they host league leading Berea (20-1, 12-0 CCS). That battle between the top two teams in the league is slated for 5 p.m. on Friday, February 10 in historic Mariotti Gym.