Due West, S.C. – The Lander men's basketball team (2-3, 0-1 PBC) fell short on the road against Erskine (3-5, 1-1 Conference Carolinas) by a score of 64-58 on Saturday. The Bearcats are now 2-1 against the Flying Fleet over the past three seasons.
Erskine junior Jaywaun Washington opened up the scoring for the Flying Fleet in the first half. Washington converted on two field goals and assisted on another to give Erskine an early 6-0 advantage with 18:18 remaining.
Junior forward Kade Marra got things going for Lander after the team fell behind in the early going. The Aussie scored in six of the Bearcats' first nine points to even the score at 9-9 with 13:11 to go in the half.
Both teams struggled to find baskets after two straight 3-pointers had the score set at 15-11 in favor of the Flying Fleet with 10:57 remaining. The two sides combined for just six points in the next four minutes which kept Erskine out in front by a score of 17-15.
The Bearcats found their touch in the closing six minutes of the first half. Junior guard Rahu Purdie led the way with five points while Mara and redshirt sophomore Chris Tate combined for eight points to give Lander the 30-26 lead at the end of the first half.
Lander built its largest lead of the game at 36-28 after receiving four straight points from Purdie and senior forward Srdjan Ivic in the opening minutes of the second half. The Flying Fleet would respond though with a 12-6 run of their to own even the score at 42 with 14:02 to go.
The two teams battled closely for the next seven minutes as neither side gained an advantage greater than two points.
The Bearcats broke through with just over six minutes remaining after two consecutive 3-pointers from Purdie and freshman guard Zane Rankin made the score 57-50 in favor of Lander. However Erskine would strike right back with a seven point scoring barrage to give the Flying Fleet a 59-58 lead with 3:22 remaining.
Lander was gifted three chances on the ensuing possession to take control of the lead as a result of two offensive rebounds. However the Bearcats were unable to capitalize on the moment as Erskine gained the ball and connected on a jumper at the other end to extend the team's lead to 61-58 with 1:15 remaining.
The Bearcats quickly went the other way after the Erskine made basket. Purdie had a chance to tie the game from deep with 1:05 to go, but the attempt rimmed out. After an Erskine rebound and timeout, the Flying Fleet executed their offense and found an open layup for junior Austin Venable to make the score 63-58 with 37 seconds left.
The Bearcats failed to connect on two of their final possessions and Erskine made one of two free throws at the end to seal the game with a 64-58 victory for the Flying Fleet.
Tate finished with a productive night despite the loss. The Abbeville, S.C. native hauled in 11 rebounds while coming just short of a double-double with 8 points. Purdie led the team in scoring with 14 points and Marra added 12 points and 4 rebounds.
Lander will look to get back in the win column on Saturday as the Bearcats travel to Columbus State to take on the Cougars at 3:30 p.m.