Maryville College used a huge first quarter, while six Scots scored nine points or more to advance in the USA South Athletic Conference Tournament, 87-59.
Maryville opened the contest on a 14-2 rally, and they would never look back. By the end of the first quarter, the Scots held a commanding 27-8 advantage.
In that opening stanza, the Orange and Garnet shot 52.6 percent (10-for-19), while going 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. They took advantage of six Panther turnovers, bucketing 13 points off those miscues. The Scots rallied for a 16-0 effort in the paint, as they forced a trio of old-fashioned 3-pointers in the quarter.
MC's stingy defense held LaGrange to just three field goals in the opening period, as they shot 3-of-15 (20 percent).
"I was so happy with the way our kids played in the first half," Darrin Travillian said. "Defensively, we held them to 21 in the first half. Offensively, I typically don't ever care about scoring or make a big deal of it, but what was impressive in the first half is that everybody has six, seven, eight points. We were sharing it. I thought that first half was about as well as we have played – on both ends of the floor together – the entire season."
In the first half, Maryville held a 45-21 lead. The Scots saw six players with six or more points, while eight players ranked in the scoring column.
Maryville's 28-point victory advances them in the USA South Tournament, as they will travel to Demorest, Ga. on Saturday, Feb. 17. The Scots will take on No. 2-seeded Piedmont College at 2 p.m.
"What I said to them on the front-end of this was, 'Look, you'd love to be hosting, and you'd love not to be in the play-in game, but that's not the hand we were dealt,'" Travillian said. "This is the path that we have. The path is a little bit bumpier and trickier than the one we would have laid out, but so what? Life is hard. We've learned that this year. Going to Piedmont and playing there, it's going to be really, really tough. You want a challenge like that, so let's go see what happens."
MC (17-9) was led by Amber Hudgens' double-double effort, as the senior tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds. She also added four assists, two steals and two blocks on the night. Rachel Hawn matched Hudgens with 16 points, as the fellow senior shot 7-of-10 from the floor. She had four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block to her credit.
Kelley Wandell had 14 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal off the bench, while Madison Maples added 11 points. Klaire Varney also added double-figures off the bench with 10 points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists.
Maryville shot 29-of-61 (47.5 percent) while connecting on five treys. They also had a 77.4 percent effort (24-of-31) at the charity stripe while outrebounding the Panthers, 43-31. MC had 12 second-chance points on 14 offensive boards, while dominating the paint with a 46-28 margin. A total of 32 bench points and 26 points off turnovers also swayed the game in the Scots' favor.
LaGrange (11-15) shot 37 percent (20-of-54) for the game, while adding a trey on a 12.5 percent effort.
The Panthers saw Marilauren Farr tally a game-high 22 points in her final game, as she added six rebounds. Austin Richardson had 13 points and six assists, while Jeris Johnson led the Panthers off the bench with seven rebounds.
Maryville will continue their hunt for a bid to the NCAA Tournament via the automatic qualifier from the USA South Championship.
"I told the girls the other day, 'It takes four wins,'" Travillian said. "It's four wins. It doesn't matter who you pencil in the bracket, where it is, or how you get there. You've got to win four games. Tonight was the first one. We get a chance to regroup, and we'll go play Piedmont again."