At the buzzer: Panthers defy MC once more
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
Some former Scots thoroughly enjoyed Alumni Day at Maryville College Saturday. They just didn’t happen to be current supporters of the Orange & Garnet.
LaGrange transfer junior Dustin Baxter sank a 16-foot jump shot for the Panthers as time expired to give LaGrange and second-year coach, MC alum Kendal Wallace, an 85-83 win over Maryville.
The Scots led 82-75 after a pair of Christian Ford free throws with 2:23 to play when the wheels came off for Maryville (7-11, 3-7 USAC). LaGrange dropped into its press, and Kyron Anderson promptly came up with a steal and turned it into a Marcus Vaughn layup. MC’s Oscar Butler drew a foul on the following inbounds and hit the first foul shot before Anderson dropped in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie things at 83 with 33 seconds left.
“The last two and a half minutes were a disaster. We just didn’t take care of the ball. A couple of those turnovers were them just taking the ball out of our hands,” MC coach Randy Lambert said after the Scots commited 13 of their 19 turnovers in the second half. “We played a good 38 minutes. I was pleased with our overall effort. We made some young mistakes again, and it’s frustrating because I felt like we played good enough to win the ball game.”
Maryville got off a Christian Ford drive that refused to fall with 11 seconds remaining. LC (8-8, 2-6) called time, and Wallace set the last play for the win.
“We went a little early, and obviously they had time to make a play at the end,” Lambert said of the final possession. “They got it to an open shooter, and he made a good shot.”
Baxter finished with 8 after swishing the game winner as the red lights illuminated the backboard. It was a bit of salt for the junior who started his college career at Maryville before transferring to LaGrange and inevitably drew some fire from the always-vocal Maryville student section.
“Dustin’s been through a lot. He was seeking a different learning environment by coming to LaGrange from Maryville. That’s the only thing it was about. He’s comfortable at LaGrange, and he was the best shooter in the lineup at that point for me to draw it up like that,” said Wallace, who is now 2-2 against his former mentor with both wins coming at Maryville. “It really made me proud as coach for him to have that mental focus in that situation and that environment.”
Spencer Shoffner helped Maryville rebuild its second-half lead after LaGarnge erased a 44-37 deficit from the break and led briefly at 63-62. The freshman from Oak Ridge blistered LaGrange from the deep left wing with a 3-ball and sank another from the opposite side to put the Scots in front. His next attempt rolled out for a Jethro Griffin putback tip but Shoffner was undeterred. The shooting guard had his next attempt partially blocked but simply slid to his left, took the deflection and drained another unfazed bomb. His sixth of the game finished an 11-2 run that put MC up 73-65.
“Spencer is a great spot-up shooter. We did a good job of getting him his looks, and he’s developing into the player I thought he could be for us,” Lambert said after the freshman finished 8-of-14 and 6-of-11 on treys for a team-high 22.
Shoffner also pitched in on a 9-9 Maryville run to end the first half with a 7-point edge. Jose Agosto and Ford hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Shoffner forced one in the lane, drawing a charge. Baxter missed a long 3 and MC had just enough time to flip the ball down court to Shoffner for a 3-pointer at the halftime horn.
“It certainly was a heck of a way to break the slide,” Wallace said. “They hurt us inside where I didn’t think they would, and you have to congratulate Shoffner for shooting the lights out. We had no answer for him. It was just a hard-fought basketball game by both teams.”
LaGrange finally found the win column this year after dropping seven straight — six in conference play. The Panthers hadn’t won since a Dec. 29 win over Westminster that completed a 7-1 start to the season.
“We’ve struggled. We won’t make the top four of the conference even if we win out. We could get close, but the good thing about the USA South is everyone makes the tournament. It’s three games you throw it up and see who wins, Wallace told The Daily Times about the Panthers up-then-down season. “The first part of the year, we were winning, then losing for a stretch has built a lot of character in my guys. They understand that when things are down, they aren’t out. They also have the mentality of never stop trying.”
Ford finished with 14 for the Scots as well as leading MC in rebounds with five and assists with nine. Jaumonee Byrd added 15 and battled nearly even with Patrick Dugger inside, as the junior finished with a game-high 23 on 11 more minutes than Byrd, his younger but similarly dreadlocked opponent in the paint.
“It was a freshman versus a junior, but I thought Jaumonee held his own,” Lambert said. “I’d have liked to see some more rebounds, but he played well, very efficient,” Lambert said as Byrd’s 6-for-8 afternoon was key to MC 52 percent shooting against the Panthers’ 57 percent. “Our young people are not struggling offensively, so much as defensively. We have to work at that, and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Maryville returns to action Wednesday with a nonconference game against Covenant. LaGrange decides if it’s recaptured the momentum of its fast start by visiting Ferrum Feb. 2.
LAGRANGE 85, MARYVILLE 83
LAGRANGE COLLEGE (8-8, 2-6) — Kyron Anderson 8-14 1-1 20, Patrick Dugger 10-15 3-3 23, Dustin Baxter 3-8 0-1 8, Denzel Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Marcus Vaughn 4-5 1-4 9, Mark Wagner 0-4 5-6 5, Braxton Ford 0-0 0-0 0, Lincoln Bennett 2-2 0-0 4, Mike White 3-4 0-0 6, Sanders Dorough 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Mitchell 3-6 2-2 8, PANTHERS 34-61 12-17 85.
MARYVILLE COLLEGE (7-11, 3-7) — Christian Ford 5-11 2-2 14, Jose Agosto 3-5 0-0 8, Jaumonee Byrd 6-8 3-3 15, Jethro Griffin 1-4 1-2 3, Oscar Butler 3-7 3-4 9, Spencer Shoffner 8-14 0-0 22, JP Burris 0-0 0-0 0, Craig Raye 2-4 5-6 9, Spencer Peake 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Bodewig 1-3 1-2 3, SCOTS 29-56 15-19 83.
HALF—MC 44-37. 3-POINTERS—LC 5-10 (Anderson 3-3, Baxter 2-4, Wagner 0-2, White 0-1); MC 10-23 (Ford 2-5, Agosto 2-3, Griffin 0-1, Butler 0-2, Shoffner -11, Raye 0-1). REBOUNDS—LC 30 (Vaughn 9); MC 30 (Ford 6). ASSISTS—LC 16 (Anderson 6); MC 20 (Ford 9). FOULS— LC 17, MC 18. ATT—1142.