Langford's big fourth quarter leads Lander past Flagler in first-place showdown

Langford's big fourth quarter leads Lander past Flagler in first-place showdown

GREENWOOD – Sophomore guard Destinee Langford scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Lander Bearcats take over sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt Conference with a 72-68 victory over the Flagler College Saints Saturday afternoon at Horne Arena.

Lander improved to 11-2 overall, 6-1 in the Peach Belt. Flagler fell to 7-3, 5-1.

The Bearcats recorded their seventh consecutive victory over the Saints and have won 15 games in a row at Horne Arena.

Lander trailed by six points late in the third quarter before an 8-0 run in the final minute gave the hosts the lead for good. Then Langford scored 11 of the team's 19 points in the fourth quarter while also grabbing four rebounds in the final period.

The Bearcats didn't shoot well from the floor, making only 22 of 63 shots (34 percent). But they made 22 of 23 free throws (96 percent).

Flagler made 27 of 54 shots (50 percent) from the floor and 11 of 12 from the line (92 percent).

Langford shared scoring honors for Lander with 15 points and also had eight rebounds, six offensive, and four assists. Chelsea Mitchell also scored 15 for the Bearcats, making eight of eight free throws.

Breshay Johnson added a double-double for Lander with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four steals. Christal Williams added 12 points before leaving the game in the second half with an injury.

Jessica Harris contributed eight points, seven assists and four steals for the Bearcats. Ariana Sanders added eight points off the Lander bench.

Flagler's Tiffany Hodge led all scorers with 22 points, making 10 of 14 shots from the floor. Tatiyana Rock added 13 points, all coming in the second half for the Saints. Bri Roberts added 10 points while Alex Alford dished out 10 assists.

6-foot-5 center Tabitha Odabe scored six points and had nine rebounds, all on the defensive end, while also blocking three shots for Flagler. But she went to the bench with three fouls in the third quarter and her fourth in the final period, and Lander took advantage inside when she was not in the game.

Roberts hit a 3-pointer and a basket, and Hodge scored twice as Flagler built a 9-3 lead. But the Bearcats used a 14-4 run to take a 17-13 advantage with Johnson scoring twice and Williams making four of four free throws. Lander led 17-15 after one quarter.

Harris opened the second period with a rare four-point play as she was tripped on her follow-through of making a 3 and added the free throw. Langford added a layup extending the Bearcats lead to 23-15.

Odabe rallied Flagler with her pair of baskets pulling the visitors within 26-23 and 29-27. Lander led 31-27 at halftime despite shooting only 10 of 36 (28 percent) from the floor in the opening two quarters.

Odabe's layup with 6:37 left in the third quarter tied the game at 36, and Hodge and Roberts followed with baskets inside giving the Saints their first lead since the opening quarter at 40-36.

Alford's long bounce pass to Rock was converted into a layup, giving Flagler a 42-38 advantage. Sanders hit her second 3 of the afternoon, pulling Lander within 42-41 at the 3:47 mark.

The Bearcats finished the third quarter strong, using an 8-0 run over the final minute to take a 53-49 lead. Johnson made two layups in a row, Mitchell hit a pair of free throws making her eight for eight from the line, and Williams stole Flagler's inbounds pass and made a short drive for a layup.

Langford's driving, reverse lay-in gave Lander a 55-51 advantage with 8:39 left in the game and her steal and layup made it 57-54. Langford made another big play when she drew Odabe's fourth foul with 6:25 to go and made one of two free throws for a 58-56 lead.

After Rock tied the game for Flagler, the Bearcats took a four-point lead with under five minutes to go when Harris made a fast-break layup and then found Johnson breaking toward the basket for another lay-in.

Langford put back her own miss and Mitchell hit a long jumper as the shot clock was winding down, extending Lander's lead to 66-58 with 2:34 left.

Rock scored inside and added two free throws pulling the Saints within 66-62 with under two minutes to go.

After Johnson hit two free throws for the Bearcats and Hodge made two for the Saints, Alford grabbed a back-court steal and got the ball to Hodge for a layup pulling Flagler within 68-66 with 1:12 left.

Lander committed a shot clock violation turning the ball over back to the Saints with 39 seconds to go. But seven seconds later, Langford came up with another big play when she drew an offensive foul.

Langford hit a pair of free throws, extending the Bearcats lead to 70-66 with 16 seconds left.

Alford's layup closed the Saints within two with 10 seconds left, but Langford added two more free throws with nine seconds to go and then grabbed the defensive rebound on Roberts' missed 3-point attempt to end the game.