Maryville College earned their 20th win of the 2017-18 season and Head Coach Randy Lambert's 699th career victory on Tuesday night, as the Scots advance in the USA South Tournament with an 89-78 win over LaGrange College.
Maryville knocked off the defending USA South Tournament champions in the first round, as the Scots will now host the remainder of the tournament inside Boydson Baird Gymnasium on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24.
"It's 699, but more importantly, it's advancing and hosting the tournament here this weekend," Lambert said following the game. "I'm excited about that. I was proud of our guys. It was a tough set of circumstances, when you beat a team twice by 30. You had to play them Sunday, and they stayed here. All they've done for three days was prepare for Maryville. We've had to go to class and go through our normal routine. I'm very proud of our guys."
The Eastern Division No. 1 seeded N.C. Wesleyan College will take on the No. 3 seeded Covenant College of the Western Division at 5 p.m. on Friday night, before the top-ranked Scots will face off with Eastern Division No. 2 seed Methodist University with a 7 p.m. tipoff.
The winners of Friday's games will advance to Saturday's USA South Athletic Conference Championship, which is set to tip at 6 p.m.
"I'm excited about our opportunity this weekend," the head coach said. "We'll have to play a tough Methodist team. It looks like it's the top four teams in the league left…It's going to be fun."
The win marks back-to-back 20-win seasons for Maryville College, as it stands as Lambert's 19th 20-win mark in his 38-year career. It's the first time since 2009-10 that the Scots have consecutive 20-win campaigns.
On Tuesday, however, Maryville struggled to open the game. At the 13:15 mark, the Scots trailed 15-7 on just a 21-percent (3-of-14) performance from the floor.
MC would rally on a 12-4 run, shooting 4-for-7 from the field. Kaleb Estes' pair of free-throws knotted the game at 19-all with 9:03, before Maryville would continue its run.
Over the final 13:15 of the half, the Scots outscored LaGrange 38-19 to take a 45-34 lead to the locker room.
Maryville upped their shooting percentage to 38.9 percent (14-of-36) as they shot 11-of-22 (50 percent) over the final 13 minutes. They would ride that lead to an 89-78 victory in the second half.
"I thought we showed some resiliency," Lambert said. "We could have folded. We got down eight early, and our second wave came in gave us some great minutes. If you look at these stat lines, there's some pretty impressive stat lines."
Maryville (20-6) saw four players finish in double figures, as Calvin Songster added 19 points. He went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, while adding a 6-for-6 effort at the charity stripe. He had five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Colt Nokes notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds to go with a pair of blocks, as Dante Hoppa had 13 points and six boards. Estes added 13 points, four boards and four assists, as the junior guard went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line.
Emier Bowman had eight points, six rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist, while both Chris Watson and J.R. Sanders had seven points off the bench. Watson added seven boards – the second most behind Nokes' 12, as Daquan Summers (four), Emanuelle Garcia (two), Danterrius Bray (one) and Malcolm Walker (one) each got in the scoring column.
Maryville shot 25-of-62 (40.2 percent), while knocking down six treys at a 40-percent clip. They went an astonishing 33-of-44 (75 percent) at the free-throw line on the night.
The Scots out-rebounded LaGrange, 49-38, while holding the Panthers to a 36.8 percent (25-of-68) afternoon. They tallied nine treys.
LaGrange ends their season at 13-13. The Panthers saw senior Alex Bonner finish with 24 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal, as Jamison McCray had 17 points. Gary Bishop added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench, while Travis Thompson led LaGrange with eight boards and eight points.