Men's Basketball: Panthers await possible at-large NCAA bid after posting strong season

Men's Basketball: Panthers await possible at-large NCAA bid after posting strong season

The LaGrange men's basketball team has posted a very strong 2015-16 season. Now the Panthers await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

The 62-team field will be announced Monday. Forty-three conference champions receive automatic bids. The Panthers are vying for one of 19 at-large openings.

"I am optimistic of the possibility of an at-large bid because of our strength of schedule and quality wins we've had this season," Coach Kendal Wallace said Saturday. "We will see on Monday."

During the season, the Panthers had quality wins over Birmingham-Southern, Eastern Connecticut, Emory, N.C. Wesleyan, plus two wins over USA South Tournament champion Covenant. The Panthers were ranked sixth in the NCAA South region before the conference tournament. Emory was third and N.C. Wesleyan fifth in the region rankings.

The Panthers are 20-8 following the overtime loss to Covenant in the USA South Tournament championship. The 20-win season is the first since the 1992-93 team went 21-11.

The Panthers had three players named to the all-tournament team: Alex Bonner, Drew Vanderbrook, and Mark Wagner.

Wagner and Justyn Olson were selected to the USA South All-Conference second team. Olson leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game. Wagner is second, averaging 15.2 points per game and has moved into ninth on the school career points list with 1,416.