Lander celebrates Homecoming with fourth consecutive home win

Lander celebrates Homecoming with fourth consecutive home win

GREENWOOD – The Lander men's basketball team extended its home-court winning streak to four, beating Peach Belt Conference rival Flagler 72-66 Saturday afternoon in front of 1,338 fans during Homecoming at Horne Arena.

The Bearcats won for the seventh time in their last eight home games, improving to 9-13 overall and 8-8 in the PBC.

Lander swept its two games this season over the Saints, who fell to 7-14, 4-11. Flagler has lost five consecutive games.

The Bearcats began the day a half game behind Georgia College for the sixth spot in the PBC standings.

"Our guys are battle-tested," said interim head coach Ryan Hilburn, "and I'm proud of our guys for finishing. That's something new for us to work on, finishing close games late."

Sidney Robinson led Lander with 15 points in just 16 minutes of action. He made five of seven shots from the floor.

Morris Robinson Jr. added 11 points for the Bearcats, including five crucial points late in the game.

Rahu Purdie scored 11 points while leading Lander with three assists. Elijah Alston added eight points while pacing the Bearcats with nine rebounds. Justin Holliday added eight boards for Lander.

Gedi Juozapaitas led Flagler with a double-double, with game highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Vaughn McCall added 13 points.

Jordan Dingle hit a long jumper just inside the arc, Robinson made a driving layup, and Codrin Cobzaru scored off a nifty interior pass from Robinson during a 6-0 run to give Lander a 19-10 lead midway through the opening half.

Damerit Brown and Juozapaitis made back-to-back three-pointers from opposite corners, giving Flagler a 23-22 advantage with 4:49 to go.

Trailing 25-24, the Bearcats ended the half with seven unanswered points. Robinson made a transition three from the right side, Robinson tapped Justin Holliday's alley-oop pass off the glass for a basket, and Cobzaru and Robinson each added a free throw for a 31-25 lead at the break.

Lander led 36-30 when it went on a 15-6 run to make it 51-36 midway through the second half. Alston led the way with eight of those points on a three-pointer, a layup, and three free throws when he was fouled behind the arc.

But the Saints used a 10-2 run, pulling within 53-46 with 8:19 left on Jeffercy Jean's three.

Marquel Wiggins made a put-back to give Lander a 64-53 advantage with 4:24 left. But McCall hit consecutive threes and Flagler was within 64-59 with 3:43 to go.

Demari Davis scored to cut the Saint deficit to 64-61 with 3:03 left and the visitors had a chance to tie one minute later but Jean's three-point attempt hit the rim. Robinson Jr. grabbed the defensive rebound and made a driving layup, was fouled, and converted the three-point play to give the Bearcats a 67-61 advantage at the two-minute mark.

Juozapaitis made a three-pointer and then Lander's Deshundre Rucker and Flagler's Jean exchanged layups, leaving the visitors within 69-66 with 38 seconds to go.

Robinson Jr. made two free throws, giving the Bearcats a 71-66 lead with 30 seconds left. Flagler missed a three, Holliday grabbed the rebound, and Purdie was fouled. Purdie added one of two free throws for the game's final point.