GREENSBORO, N.C. – Junior Matt McCarthy scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to rally Guilford College past LaGrange College, 90-81, in the second game of the Guilford Invitational Friday night.
The season-opening victory sets up a rematch of last year's tournament final between the Quakers (1-0) and William Peace University, an 80-76 winner over Johnson & Wales University (NC) in Friday's earlier game.
McCarthy's layup with 2:03 left gave Guilford the lead for good at 77-76 and came during a decisive 13-0 Guilford run during the game's final three minutes. McCarthy's go-ahead basket marked the 19th lead change in the tightly contested tilt, which also included 13 ties. After Isaiah Core's three-pointer gave the Panthers a 71-70 lead with 6:23 left, LaGrange missed its next nine shots from the floor. By the time Core hit another three, there were only six seconds left in the game and put the Panthers down by seven, 88-81.
McCarthy made all three of his three-pointers in the second half and converted all six free throws. Senior Jake Hopkins and rookie Alston Furr both added 17 points for Guilford, which shot 47 percent from the floor. Freshman Trever Hyatt added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds off the bench.
Core's 16 points paced five Panthers in double-figure scoring. Braxton Ford finished with 13 points and Dustin Baxter chipped in with 12 points, but none in the second half. Denzel Robinson also scored 12 and Mike White added 11 points. Senior Patrick Dugger, the Panthers' top returning scorer and rebounder, was held to six points and without a field goal in 19 foul-plagued minutes.
The Quakers' win sends them into Saturday's tournament final against William Peace University, coached by former Guilford assistant Claude Shields. The Pacers (1-0) led from start to finish in an 80-76 victory over Johnson & Wales (3-4). The Wildcats trimmed a 15-point deficit with four minutes left down to two, but Michael Wolf made two free throws with four seconds left to seal the win.
Shawn Shaffer led William Peace with 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Johnson and Wales' Joshua Cohen led all players with 22 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists.
LaGrange and Johnson & Wales meet in Saturday's consolation game at 1:00 p.m. in Guilford's Ragan-Brown Field House.