Men's Basketball: Panthers top Ferrum to advance to semifinals of USA South Tournament

Men's Basketball: Panthers top Ferrum to advance to semifinals of USA South Tournament

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - Sophomore Alex Bonner and junior Drew Vanderbrook combined for 39 points as LaGrange topped Ferrum 77-73 in the first round of the USA South Tournament on Thursday.

The two-time defending champion Panthers (19-7) avenged a 100-76 loss to Ferrum during the regular season. With the win, the Panthers advance to face the N.C. Wesleyan-Averett winner in the semifinals Friday at 7 p.m.

Bonner led the Panthers with 20 points, while Vanderbrook added 19 coming off the bench. Vanderbrook was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line, the last two icing the game.

The Panthers only shot 36.1 percent in the game. But they were 29-of-36 at the free throw line and had a 49-42 advantage rebounding.

Vanderbrook's layup with 5:11 left put the Panthers up 69-55. The basket was the last from the floor as the Panthers' final eight points came at the free throw line.

Ferrum's Josh Grimard completed a three-point play to cut the Panthers' lead to one, 74-73, with 1:02 left.

The Panthers forced turnovers on Ferrum's next two possessions. The last turnover came on a steal by Vanderbrook with seven seconds left and the Panthers holding a 75-73 lead. The junior sank both free throws to seal the 77-73 win.

The Panthers led 35-31 at haltime. Justyn Olson and Vanderbrook hit back-to-back shots to put the Panthers on top 31-30 with 3:22 left in the half. The Panthers never trailed again.