GREENWOOD – The Lander women's basketball team got 21 points from Tabitha Dailey as the No. 21 ranked Bearcats opened their season with a 92-65 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne in the opening game of the PBC/SAC Challenge Friday evening at Horne Arena.
Lander, which beat Clemson in an exhibition game last week, is 1-0 on the season. The Bears are 0-1.
"It was our first real game and we just wanted to get better," said head coach Kevin Pederson. [Those exhibition games] don't mean anything, all those were geared towards getting ready for this game. So it was nice to see us come out and shoot the ball very well in the first half."
Lander shot almost 60 percent from the floor, making 38 of 64 (59.4 percent) attempts from the floor.
The Bearcats will face Carson-Newman Saturday at 3 p.m. in the third game of the PBC/SAC Challenge, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne vs. USC Aiken. Carson-Newman met USC Aiken in Friday's second game.
Lander beat Carson-Newman in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
Amiaya Melvins scored 14 points on seven of eight shooting from the floor for Lander Friday while contributing nine rebounds.
Reigning Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year Jessica Harris scored 11 of her 13 points in the first half while pacing the Bearcats with five assists.
Makaila Cange was among several Lander freshmen who had strong debuts. Cange scored 10 points on five of six shooting while grabbing eight boards. Zamiya Passmore added nine points, Jakiyah Parker scored eight, and Aniaya Jester had two points and three fourth-quarter assists.
Kennedy Weigt and Madeline Hardy led Lenoir-Rhyne with 12 points apiece while Ashley Woodroffe added 11 points while pacing her team with three assists. Karlie Bearden scored eight points while leading the team with five rebounds.
Lander dominated inside, outscoring Lenoir-Rhyne 64-32 in the paint. The Bearcats had a 37-24 edge on the boards.
Lander had a tremendous first quarter, building a 28-8 lead with eight different players scoring. The Bearcats made 10 of 16 shots in the period, including four of six from behind the arc. They held Lenoir-Rhyne to four of 19 shooting.
Lander extended a 5-4 lead to 13-4 with an 8-0 run and then finished the quarter with 12 consecutive points capped by Quin'De'Ja Hamilton's 3. Harris was the Bearcats' leading scorer in the opening period with seven points.
Lander still had a big lead at halftime, 46-29, despite being outscored 21-18 in the second period.
Dailey dominated in the paint in the third quarter and her two free throws extended the Bearcat lead to 60-38 with 4:32 left in the period. Dailey scored 14 of her 22 points in the third quarter when she made five of six shots from the floor and all four free throws.
Lander finished the third quarter strong with Melvins driving the length of the floor and splitting two defenders for a layup and then rebounding a teammate's missed 3 and laying it in as the lead grew to 75-44 going into the fourth.
Passmore's layup upped the Bearcat advantage to 83-48 inside the eight-minute mark. Lander's biggest lead of the game was 37 points, 85-48, on a layup by Melvins with 7:25 to go. Freshman Cierra Revelle's 3 from the right side pushed Lander's lead to 92-63 with 1:35 left.
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