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Bearcats outlast Young Harris in highest-scoring game in PBC history

Bearcats outlast Young Harris in highest-scoring game in PBC history

GREENWOOD – The Lander men's basketball team had an astonishing eight double-figure scorers and survived Young Harris College's 24 made three-pointers, outlasting the Mountain Lions 128-121 Wednesday afternoon in the highest scoring game in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball history.

Lander scored its third-highest total in school history, the tops being 134 against Francis Marion in the 1971-72 season.

Lander's 118-103 loss at Young Harris on Dec. 13 had been the highest-scoring game in school history until Wednesday when the Bearcats avenged that loss.

Lander improved to 3-8 overall, 2-3 in the PBC. Young Harris suffered its 13th consecutive Peach Belt road loss, falling to 4-7 overall and 2-3 in the league.

"We tried to tell our guys, 'just stay the course, do what we do,'" said assistant coach Ryan Hilburn. "Our offensive philosophy has always been to space the floor, so take what they give you. We want to play as fast as the defense allows us or as slow as the defense allows us. I thought we did a really good job of staying the course for the full 40 minutes." 

The Bearcats shot 61 percent from the floor, making 41 of 67. Lander fell behind by 13 in the first half, led by five at halftime, upped its lead to 20 in the second half before Young Harris cut it to two points late.

The Bearcats put the game away at the free-throw line where they made 38 of 51 (75 percent).

The Mountain Lions stayed in the game by making an amazing 24 of 48 shots from behind the three-point line. The 24 made three-pointers and 121 points were both Young Harris school records. 

Marquel Wiggins led Lander's eight double-figure scoring parade with a career-high 30 points, making seven of 13 field goals and 16 of 19 from the line. It was his 10th consecutive double-figure scoring game.

Sidney Robinson added 14 points on six of nine shooting while pacing the Bearcats with 12 assists. Morris Robinson Jr. also scored 14 points, most of them late, making four of five from the floor and five of six from the line.

Elijah Alston added 13 points while leading Lander with nine rebounds. Jordan Dingle also scored 13 points, hitting seven of eight free throws.

Justin Holliday added 12 points for the Bearcats on five of six shooting. DeShundre Rucker made four of five shots for 10 points while Rahu Purdie was 3-for-4 from the floor and also scored 10.

Justin Jones had a big day for Young Harris, leading all scorers with 37 points. He made 12 of 22 shots, including seven of 14 from behind the arc.

Paul Miller was six for 10 from three-point range, adding 23 points for the Mountain Lions. Seth McCoy made five three-pointers and finished with 15 points for the visitors, Ryle Owens scored 14 points, and Brian Harper added 10 points and 13 assists. James Laput led Young Harris with seven rebounds.

Wiggins converted a three-point play to pull Lander within 18-16 with 13:53 left in the first half. But Jones made a three-pointer and then hit another three, was fouled and converted a rare four-point play to give the Mountain Lions a 25-16 lead. The advantage grew to 33-20 on McCoy's three-pointer with 9:38 left until halftime.

The Bearcats came storming back from their 13-point deficit, going on a 21-1 run to take a 41-34 advantage with 4:30 left. Holliday made a three-pointer and converted a three-point play during the run, Wiggins scored six points, and TJ Knight had a trey.

The Bearcats led by as many as eight and were up 53-48 at the intermission.

Lander built its lead to 68-56 with 16:28 left when Sidney Robinson drove toward the basket and dished off to Wiggins coming across the baseline for a dunk.

The Bearcats advantage grew to 80-61 at the 13:35 mark when Warren Goulbourne grabbed an offensive board and laid it in. Rucker's dunk gave Lander an 86-67 lead with 11:52 to go.

The Bearcats passed the century mark when Sidney Robinson's three-pointer bounced off the rim and rolled in, making it 101-80 with 7:54 left.

Young Harris mounted a big comeback, however, cutting a 20-point deficit to five, 106-101, on a layup by Jones with 4:20 left. After Purdie made a three for Lander, the Mountain Lions responded with a Harper three and a Jones layup to close within 109-106 at the three-minute mark.

Morris Robinson Jr.'s layup upped the Bearcats lead back up to five. But Miller's three cut it to 111-109 with 2:06 left.

But Wiggins made his 13th and 14th free throws of the game and Robinson Jr. added a driving layup high off the glass to extend Lander's lead to 115-109.

Robinson Jr. made a pair of free throws and Purdie nailed a three-pointer with four seconds left on the shot clock to give the Bearcats a 120-109 cushion with 44 seconds left.

Young Harris continued to fire away, hitting three more threes to pull within 126-121 with eight seconds to go. Lander's Dingle made two free throws for the game's final points.