DEMOREST — Taking on the preseason No. 1 pick in the USA South, the Piedmont College Men's Basketball team made a statement Sunday winning 88-82 over LaGrange. The Panthers fall to 0-3 in the league while Piedmont moves to 2-2, winners of two straight in USA South play.
The Lions took an early lead going up by five just before the first media timeout after a layup by Chase England made it 11-6, but the Panthers clawed back to tie the contest at 18 on a 3-pointer by Elijah Adedoyin with 12:46 to go. A pair of free throws by Drew Vanderbrook gave LaGrange its first lead of the game just moments later as that began an eight point run for the Panthers who led 26-18.
Piedmont battled back with an 8-0 run of their own capped off by a 3-pointer by England to regain the lead 29-28. It was a back and forth contest over the next few minutes until England connected again from downtown to take a two point lead 36-34 with 4:45 remaining in the first half. Though the contest would be tied later in the game, from that point on the Lions never trailed in the game.
The Lions took a 45-40 lead into the locker room at halftime but that lead quickly dwindled as LaGrange came out on a 5-0 run to tie the contest. A 9-0 run by Piedmont pushed the lead back to 54-45 and set up the Lions in control.
The lead was extended to 10 points after a pair of free throws by Trae Gaines at the 10:16 mark of the second half, but the Panthers continued to hang around, keeping the game within reach. It was a five point game after another 3-pointer from Adedoyin and a layup on the next possession cut it to 78-74 with 4:20 to play.
Justin Vallejo hit a 3-pointer with 2:50 to go to put the exclamation point on the game and the Lions capitalized at the free throw line to seal the victory.
England had an impressive performance scoring 25 points while going 7-of-9 from the floor, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. Gaines also banked 21 points while Vallejo had 14 points and nine rebounds.