GREENWOOD – The Lander men's basketball team got 29 points from Marquel Wiggins but could not complete its comeback attempt, falling 93-83 to Francis Marion in Peach Belt Conference action Wednesday night at Horne Arena.
The Bearcats cut a 14-point second half deficit down to three. But the Patriots regained their double-digit lead inside the five-minute mark.
Lander fell to 5-10 overall, 4-5 in the PBC. Francis Marion improved to 10-2, 6-1.
Wiggins made 12 of 18 shots from the floor, including several dunks, to lead all scorers. Wiggins fell one point shy of his season-high for points in a game.
DeShundre Rucker added 17 points for the Bearcats on seven of 13 shooting. Elijah Alston added nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Lander. Morris Robinson Jr. had eight points and a team-high four assists while Sidney Robinson added eight points, three steals and three assists.
Brandon Parker led the Patriots with 22 points, including nine made free throws. Ryan Davis added 21 points while leading Francis Marion with nine rebounds. Kailex Stephens scored 17 points for the visitors while Je'Quan Perry contributed 13 points.
Rahu Purdie's long three-pointer from the left side pulled Lander within 19-17 with 10:33 to go in the first half. Wiggins drove the right baseline and dunked, cutting the Bearcat deficit to 26-21 with 8:27 left.
Rucker drove the lane and put down a one-handed dunk as Lander continued to stay close, pulling within 31-28 at the six-minute mark. Wiggins added a driving dunk as the Bearcats were within 41-38 with 1:40 to go.
Wiggins had another dunk off a pass from Jordan Dingle to cut it to 41-40. But Francis Marion closed the half on a 5-0 run including a Davis three-pointer with two seconds left for a 46-40 halftime lead.
Stephens hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and added a driving lay-in as the Patriots built their lead to 62-48 with 16:18 to go. The Bearcats twice got back within nine, but Francis Marion's lead grew back to 14 on a Parker three, making it 72-58 with 12:14 left.
Lander fought back again, closing within 76-70 inside the eight-minute mark on consecutive baskets by Wiggins, including a dunk off a pass from Morris Robinson Jr., and a short-range basket off the glass.
A fade-away jumper by Purdie and a basket by Wiggins pulled the Bearcats within 77-74 with 6:32 to go, completing a 16-5 run.
The Patriots scored seven unanswered points, capped by Perry's three-pointer from the right corner for an 84-74 advantage with 4:20 left.
Wiggins made a pair of free throws, pulling Lander within 88-81 with 1:23 to go. The Patriots missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Bearcats a chance to further cut into the deficit. But Parker stole a Lander pass, was fouled and made one of two free throws for an 89-81 advantage with 50 seconds left.
Sidney Robinson's free throws pulled Lander within six. But Francis Marion clinched the victory with four more free throws.