WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - LaGrange held off a fourth quarter rally by Salem for a 72-70 USA South win Saturday.
The Panthers (9-7, 4-2 USA South) had three players in double figures, led by Lauren Johnson with 17. Jeris Johnson followed with 14 and Kelsey Walthall added 13. Marilauren Farr tied for game honors with 11 rebounds.
Mikala Seivers and Sabrina Shepherd combined for 50 points for Salem (5-10, 2-3 USA South). Shepherd had a game-high 26 points for the Spirits, while Seivers finished with 24. Salem was just the second opponent to score 70 or more points against the Panthers this season.
"Another close game for us, but we found a way to win it. We had some clutch free throws down the stretch by Kelsey that helped seal the game," said Coach Lee Buchanan. "It was truly a team win and it showed with 22 assists on 30 baskets.
"Really proud of the team and their smart play down the stretch. We didn't know how to finish games like this in the first part of the season."
The two teams were tied 17-17 after the first quarter. The Panthers scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 37-28 lead at the break. Farr made back-to-back jumpers, then Lauren Johnson closed out the half with a 3-pointer for the nine point lead.
The Panthers padded their lead in the third quarter and led 56-42 heading to the final period. The Spirits overtook LC on Seiver's bucket with 2:40 left to lead 65-63. The two teams swapped basket's before Farr's shot tied the game for the last time at 67.
Megan Garcia's two free throws put the Panthers ahead to stay 69-67 with 1:16 left. Lauren Johnson made the first of two free throws to make it 70-68. She missed the second but Walthall came away with the rebound and was fouled. She made both free throws with five seconds left to seal the win.
The Panthers complete their weekend road trip Sunday at Piedmont in another USA South game.