GREENWOOD – The Lander women's basketball team got 21 points from Symone Starks as the Bearcats opened the new calendar year with an 88-56 Peach Belt Conference victory over Young Harris Wednesday afternoon at Horne Arena.
Lander improved to 7-4 overall, 4-1 in the Peach Belt with its seventh consecutive victory over the Mountain Lions. Young Harris fell to 3-8, 1-4.
The Bearcats improved to 6-0 this season when scoring 85 or more points, including their 85-66 victory at Young Harris, Ga., Dec. 13, 2018.
"It's really nice to come out and get the year off to a good start," said head coach Kevin Pederson. "It was great to see your starters come out and have four of them in double figures and get some bench production, which we've sorely needed."
Starks made eight of 12 shots from the floor on her way to a game-high 21 points while leading Lander's defense with four steals. The Bearcats collected 14 steals and forced 28 Young Harris turnovers.
Lander's Tabitha Dailey and Mylea McKenith each scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. Dailey had 15 points on six of eight shooting from the floor while sharing team-high honors with eight rebounds. McKenith also scored 15 points.
Reigning Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week Jessica Harris added 12 points while leading the Bearcats with five assists. Amiaya Melvins was Lander's fifth double-figure scorer, adding 11 points and eight rebounds.
Pamela Diokpara, Sarah Woghiren and Grace Isakson paced the Mountain Lions with eight points apiece. Diokpara was the game's top rebounder with nine.
Lander jumped out to an 11-2 lead behind Starks, who converted her steal into a layup and added a three-pointer. The Bearcats led 24-13 after one quarter.
Dee Dee McLane's free throws pulled Young Harris within 26-20 with 7:39 left in the second period. But Lander closed the half on a 21-10 run, led 47-30 at the break and was never threatened the rest of the way.
The Bearcats took their first 20-point lead in the opening minute of the third quarter on another Starks three-pointer, making it 50-30. McKenith hit one from behind the arc, building Lander's advantage to 60-35 at the 6:25 mark.
The lead grew past 30 points on a Harris three-pointer that made it 74-42 with 2:55 left in the third. The Bearcats were up 79-47 going into the final period and were shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
Each team scored just nine points in the fourth quarter.