Women's Basketball: Second half blitz sends Panthers past Rust 77-65

Women's Basketball: Second half blitz sends Panthers past Rust 77-65

LaGrange blitzed visiting Rust in the second half, winning 77-65 going away Thursday in Mariotti Gym. The Panthers evened their record at 4-4 and stopped a four-game losing streak.

"I am so pleased with the win but left speechless. We are a tale of two teams from the first half to the second half," said Coach Lee Buchanan. "I was so pleased to see us play as hard as we did in the second half. It is still a mystery as to why we are struggling at the start but we will get it worked out."

Lauren Johnson led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points, all coming in the second half. Kelsey Walthall followed with 13 points.

Jeris Johnson and Megan Garcia came off the bench to combine for 21 points. Johnson had 11 points and was 5-for-5 from the floor. Garcia added 10 points, keying the Panthers' second half rally with three 3s.

Rust (0-5) led LC 36-23 at halftime. Jasmine Golden and Demetrius Bradshaw combined for 25 points in the half for the Bearcats. Golden had 15 points in the half. Golden and Bradshaw finished with 21 points each.

LaGrange's offense came to life in the third quarter. The Panthers shot 78.6 percent from the floor and cut the Bearcats' lead to four, 55-51, by the end of the period. Garcia made three straight treys to fuel the rally.

The Panthers caught the Bearcats midway through the final quarter. Kymberli Payno's free throw tied the game at 57 and started a 13-0 run. Walthall made a steal, then scored on a layup to finish the run and a 69-57 lead with 1:57 left. 

LC shot 70.4 percent in the second half, finishing the game at 50.9 percent. Rust shot 50 percent in the first half, but cooled off in the secon half, shooting just 34.5 percent.

"We had big games from Garcia hitting those big 3s and Jeris was really good on the offensive end," Buchanan added. "I am happy for our team and seeing them win. We have had a brutal schedule, playing eight games in 15 days."

The Panthers are off until Dec. 30 when they host Brevard.