Dante Hoppa led the Maryville College Scots in a huge comeback on Thursday afternoon, as the sophomore guard pushed MC to the USA South Conference Tournament semifinals with an 87-69 win over Piedmont College.
Maryville trailed by as many as 11 in the game, before a 12-0 run late in the second half secured the win. The victory marks the Scots' 20th of the season, as Randy Lambert's squad hits the 20-win plateau for the 18th time in his career and the first time since 2009-2010.
Hoppa showed out in the USA South Quarterfinals, posting a game-high 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting – an 87.5 percent clip. The sophomore guard added an incredible 5-of-5 effort 3-point range in the win.
The Scots would knock down an impressive 10 treys in the win.
After a 6-6 tie, Piedmont would make an aggressive 10-0 run coming out of the 16:00 media timeout. The run forced a Maryville College timeout with 13:43 to go, as the Scots would go on a 10-4 run of their own.
Emier Bowman would toss in a jumper and a dunk off a Hoppa assist, before Bowman would return the favor on a Hoppa trey. Hoppa's second trey in a row came from Kaleb Estes, as Maryville cut the lead to four, 20-16.
A finger roll by Estes with 9:34 left was followed by a driving, spinning lay-in by Blake Bowman to cut the Lions' lead to only one, 24-23.
However, Piedmont would find an offensive burst yet again. The Lions jumped to a 38-27 lead on a 14-4 march, before the Scots could chip away with 3:10 left in the game.
The Scots would go to the break, however, down 42-37.
Both teams shot lights out in the first half, as Piedmont led the way with a 56.3 percent (18-of-32) effort. Maryville tallied a 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) mark from the field, as both teams shot 37.5 percent from long range.
After a lay-in by Piedmont to start the second half, Maryville found another impressive run. The Scots went on a 10-0 run to give Maryville its first lead since the 18:27 mark (4-2) in the first half with 17:28 left in the second.
Hoppa hit the trey on the assist from Calvin Songster for a 45-44 advantage, before Hoppa would finish with a driving lay-up for a 47-44 Maryville lead.
After a back-and-forth battle, Maryville would take a 60-56 lead off a Malcolm Walker put back and a huge one-handed, baseline throw down by Emier Bowman. The plays would force a Piedmont timeout with 9:44 left as the Scots held their biggest lead of the ball game.
Maryville found back-to-back treys from Blake Bowman and Hoppa off Jay Bowyer's assists gave the Scots their biggest lead – 68-59 – before Tyler Spicer converted an old-fashioned 3-pointer. Songster added a trey – Maryville's fourth three-point play in a row – for a 15-point lead, 74-59.
The burst resulted in a 12-0 Scots' run.
Maryville (20-6) would ride that lead for the 87-69 win.
Hoppa led the way with 21 points, while he added four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 2-for-2 effort from the free-throw line. Songster had 14 points, while going 2-for-3 from long range and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. He added a game-high five assists, with three rebounds and a block.
Nokes had 14 points to go with eight boards, while Blake Bowman added nine points on 4-of-4 shooting. Bowyer added nine points, four rebounds and three assists, while Emier Bowman had eight points and three boards. Estes had five points and three assists, while Walker added four points and three boards. Tyler Spicer had three points for Maryville, as nine different Scots reached the scoring column.
The Orange and Garnet shot 55 percent (33-of-60) for the game, while going 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) from long range. They hit 11-of-16 free throws for a 68.8 percent clip, while outrebounding the Lions, 32-30.
Piedmont (14-12) shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the floor, while going 6-of-16 from the 3-point line.
The Lions were led by senior Kelly Assinesi who scored 20 points with six rebound, six assists, two steals and a block. Chase England added 13 points and six boards, while Trae Gaines had 12 points. Justin Vallejo added 11 points in the loss.
Maryville will play next in the USA South Semifinals at Averett University tomorrow, Feb. 24. The Scots will play the winner of the Methodist University vs. Greensboro College game slated for 3 p.m.