GREENWOOD – The Lander women's basketball team received a career-high 16 points from freshman Sarah Crews and got its usual production from Jessica Harris and Mylea McKenith, beating Peach Belt Conference rival UNC Pembroke 77-55 Wednesday night at Horne Arena.
The first-place Bearcats (16-5, 13-2 PBC) earned their seventh consecutive victory and have won 12 of their last 13 games.
Lander led 38-35 midway through the third quarter but outscored the Braves 39-20 the rest of the way.
Lander hosts second-place Flagler (11-3 PBC) on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats have won 11 of their last 13 in the all-time series against UNC Pembroke (7-13, 6-8 PBC), which fell to 1-7 on the road this season. Lander won 84-49 at Pembroke, N.C., on Jan. 8.
"We've been in the position a lot where it's a close game at half," said head coach Kevin Pederson. "We believe if we come out and work hard and do our thing in the second half, we tend to get a little separation. I thought we needed more production from our bench and Sarah's offense in the second half made a big difference."
Harris paced the Bearcats with 21 points and five steals. She made eight of eight free throws, all in the second half.
McKenith added 18 points for Lander, all from three-point range where she hit six out of eight.
The 16 points for Crews surpassed her previous collegiate career high set Dec. 13 at Young Harris. Crews added four steals.
Tee Graham led the Braves with 21 points on eight of 12 shooting from the floor, including three of four from behind the arc.
Melanie Horne added a double-double for UNC Pembroke with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, all on the defensive end.
The Braves scored the final six points of the first quarter to pull into a 17-all tie.
McKenith made two three-pointers and Crews added one trey to help Lander build a 26-20 lead midway through the second. But Danielle Heath hit a pair of baskets to pull UNC Pembroke back into a tie at 26 with 1:27 left.
A layup by Harris and two free throws from Melvins gave the Bearcats a 30-26 halftime advantage.
Melvins made two more free throws, Harris intercepted a back-court pass and drove in for a layup, and Melvins put back a teammate's missed three-point attempt to give Lander a 38-31 lead with 7:27 left in the third.
Graham's three-pointer cut the Braves deficit to 38-35 with 6:09 to go. But the Bearcats closed the third quarter with a 13-3 run to lead 51-38 going into the fourth. All of the points came from the free-throw line with the exception of McKenith's fifth three of the night and Harris's steal and layup.
Lander's lead grew to 58-45 with 6:08 left in the fourth when Crews swished a three from the left side.
Wright added a late three while Crews, Wright and Melvins added baskets to help Lander continue to pull away.