GREENWOOD – Lander freshman Sidney Robinson came off the bench to score 17 points while the Bearcats made 11 of 16 shots from 3-point range, beating Peach Belt Conference rival Columbus State University 86-76 Saturday afternoon in front of more than 1,000 fans at Horne Arena for Homecoming.
Lander improved to 9-14 overall, 5-12 in the Peach Belt. The Cougars fell to 6-14, 6-11.
The Bearcats avenged a 98-63 loss at Columbus State on Dec. 2.
"I'm just really proud of our guys," said head coach Steve Roberts. "They're a three-point shooting team and we held them to six for the game and then we came out and played really well offensively. It's great to be able to win on Homecoming in front of the alumni. As an alum, I don't always get to relax much on Homecoming, so it was nice to get a win today."
Lander was up by four with a minute left in the first half but then went on a 26-7 run over the next eight minutes to lead 63-40 with 13 minutes to go.
Another Lander freshman, Zane Rankin, added 13 points on five of seven shooting including three of three from behind the arc while adding five assists and three steals.
Sergio Smith was the team's fifth double-figure scorer with 10 points while adding nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Srdjan Ivic scored six points while pacing the Bearcats with 11 rebounds and seven assists. Freshman DeShundre Rucker added five points, six rebounds and a team-high four blocked shots off the Lander bench.
Jalen Thomas made a pair of late 3-pointers and wound up Columbus State's leading scorer with 18 points. Two other Cougars posted double-doubles. Rudy Winter scored 15 points and grabbed 11 boards. Teammate Marcus Dixon scored 10 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.
Robinson came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to break a tie, giving Lander the lead for good at 14-11 with 12:15 left in the opening half. The freshman hit another 3 from the top of the key at the midway point of the first half for a 19-13 advantage.
Nicklas Jonsson made a 3 from the left corner, Robinson went the length of the floor for a layup, and Robinson added a steal and layup giving the Bearcats a 26-15 lead at the 8:10 mark.
Columbus State rallied with a 10-2 run, pulling within 28-25 with 5:35 left on Dixon's breakaway, two-handed dunk.
Lander used a 7-0 run over the final minute of the first half, extending a 37-33 lead to 44-33 at the break. Smith started the run with a twisting layup and added two free throws on the team's next possession, and Dingle closed the half with a driving basket off Rankin's steal and completed a three-point play with one second left.
After Vic Ellis made a 3 from the right side to pull Columbus State within eight to start the second half, the Bearcats went on a 9-0 run. Rucker scored twice, added a free throw and blocked two shots during the run, Purdie scored on a driving layup, and Smith was credited with a basket on goal-tending for a 53-36 advantage with 16:34 to go.
Dingle made a contested 3 from the left wing to start a 10-0 run, Rankin added a 3 from the left corner, Rankin hit another 3 from the right side, and Dingle added one free throw to make it 63-40 at the 13-minute mark.
The 7-0, 9-0 and 10-0 runs were part of a 26-7 run from the last minute of the first half through the first seven minutes of the second half.
Darius Joell's 3-pointer closed the Cougars within 66-52 with 9:33 to go.
But Robinson made a couple more big plays, first throwing an inbounds pass nearly the length of the floor to Smith for a layup, then breaking free from a trap near the sideline and driving inside for a basket high off the glass that made it 75-56 with 7:06 left.
Smith missed a dunk but rebounded it himself and laid it in for a 78-60 lead with 4:50 to go. Lander made 84-69 on Purdie's driving layup with 2:06 left.
Thomas made a pair of 3s and Karl Ivey added a put-back to pull the Cougars within 84-74 with 1:15 remaining, but that was as close as the score would get.