Women's Basketball: Panthers stop Randall 60-54 to open 2016-17 season

Women's Basketball: Panthers stop Randall 60-54 to open 2016-17 season

PENSACOLA, Fla. - LaGrange opened its 2016-17 season with a 60-54 win over Randall at the Pensacola Christian College Classic on Friday.

Junior Lauren Johnson scored a game-high 16 points for the Panthers (1-0), while fellow junior Kymberli Payno pulled down 13 rebounds. Marilauren Farr added 11 points.

"I thought we played hard at times but at times you could tell it was our first game. We had a lot of nerves early but settled down in the second half," said Coach Lee Buchanan. "Our defense was very good in the second half and that was good to see. Holding a team that averages 68 points per game to 54 is a good accomplishment.

"We still have a lot to work on but each time out continue to show signs of improvement. We have a quick turnaround and again tomorrow."

Randall (1-3) led 14-4 late in the first quarter. Jaelyn James hit a trey and followed with a layup to cut the Saints' lead in half by the end of the period.

In the second period, the Panthers fell behind by seven but rallied again just before the half ended. Johnson tied the game at 28, but the Saints reclaimed the lead on a 3-pointer by Caitlin White. Johnson's layup got LC within one, 31-30 at halftime.

The Panthers held Randall scoreless for the first seven minutes of the third quarter while scoring 11 straight points to go up 41-31. They took a 45-39 into the final period.

Sarah Evans' jumper gave the Panthers their largest lead, 53-41, with 6:25 left. The Saints got within four points but a trey by Johnson and a layup off a steal by Kelsey Walthall pushed the lead to nine, 58-49 with two minutes left.

The Panthers face Trinity (Florida) on Friday at 5 p.m. in their second tournament game.