The Maryville College men's basketball program earned the USA South regular season title on Wednesday evening with a thrilling come-from-behind road victory over Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia by the score of 75-72.
The game was a tale of two halves with the Scots not being able to find their touch from the floor while the host Lions blistered the nets for a 58% shooting effort (14-for-24) that included a 4-for-6 effort from beyond the arc. Piedmont controlled the boards outrebounding the Scots 18-9. Piedmont maintained as much as a 13-point advantage in the first half behind Marquise Lanier's nine points on 3-of-6 shooting while Justin Vallejo and Taylor Mills each dropped seven points on a combined 6-of-7 shooting. Key baskets by MC's Daquan Summers and Emier Bowman pulled Maryville to within six points (35-29) at the intermission.
The Scots tied the game at 41-41 in the first four minutes of the second half on a Colt Nokes jumper. Piedmont built as much as a seven-point lead with MC continuing to chip away as the clock ran down. An Emier Bowman layup with 4:25 remaining gave the Scots their first lead of the game 66-65. MC's Dante Hoppa put Maryville up for good with a trey at the 1:40 mark. Key rebounds by Bowman and Nokes and a pair of free throws by Hoppa sealed the hard-fought league road victory.
MC's comeback featured a second half where Piedmont shot a torrid 54% from the floor. The Scots answered with an 18-for-30 effort (60%) that included a 3-for-5 effort from the perimeter.
Piedmont (14-10, 9-6 USA South) had three players finish with double-digit scoring efforts. Justin Vallejo tallied 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting while Marquise Lanier and Taylor Mills each finished with 13 points. Elijah Alston was strong on the boards with a game-high seven rebounds.
Maryville (18-5, 13-1 USA South) was paced by Dante Hoppa's game-high 21 points. The junior went 7-for-8 from the floor that included a 3-for-4 effort from long distance. Emier Bowman dropped 15 points while grabbing a team-high five boards.
The win is Maryville's fourth in a row. The Scots will host Huntingdon and LaGrange this weekend to conclude their USA South regular season schedule.
Since joining the USA South in the 2012-13 season, Coach Randy Lambert's squads have captured three USA South regular-season crowns. They won the title in 2013-14 before claiming their first ever back-to-back league championships in 2016-17 and 2017-18. In Coach Lambert's 38-year tenure, this is the 13th league title won under his guidance.
Maryville will host an upcoming USA South Tournament first-round matchup on Tuesday, February 20th. The time and opponent have yet to be determined.