GREENWOOD – In a game in which both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor, Columbus State maintained a double-digit lead most of the way and held off the Lander Bearcats 85-77 Thursday night at Horne Arena.
The Cougars improved to 8-9 overall and evened their Peach Belt Conference record at 4-4.
Lander, which cut a 19-point deficit to seven in the final minutes, fell to 7-10 overall, 1-9 in the PBC.
Lamar Williams led five Columbus double-figure scorers with 16 points, Darius McKnight added 15 points, Jarmarquis Steverson 13, Steve Peterson 11, and Donta Ridley 10. Steverson paced the Cougars with seven assists while Peterson had a team-high six rebounds.
Tovi Bailey led the Bearcats with 13 points, David Pruett scored 11, and Darion Canty led a strong Lander bench effort with 10 points. Jermel Kennedy and Canty paced the Bearcats with seven rebounds apiece while Mac Mitchell came off the bench to lead the team with four assists.
Both teams shot sizzling percentages in the first half, especially Columbus which made 21 of 33 shots from the floor (64 percent). Lander hit 15 of 26 (58 percent) in the opening half.
Overall, Columbus finished 33 of 62 from the floor (53 percent), 16 of 22 from the free-throw line (73 percent), and three of 11 from 3-point range (27 percent).
The Bearcats hit 29 of 53 shots (55 percent), 14 of 17 free throws (82 percent), and five of 10 from behind the arc (50 percent).
But Lander committed 20 turnovers to only seven by the Cougars. The Bearcats had a 32-25 edge on the boards.
Columbus grabbed an 11-4 lead, but Lander closed within 16-12 on Pruett's jumper just inside the 3-point line with 12:53 left in the opening half.
The Cougars, however, responded with the game's next nine points to start a 14-3 run. Steverson found Paul Darkwa inside for a dunk to start the run, Peterson hit a 3-pointer, and Andrew Houts and Jonathan Murphy scored to increase Columbus's lead to 25-12.
Bailey ended the run with a 3-pointer, pulling the Bearcats within 10 at the halfway point of the first half. But Williams responded with a 3-pointer of his own and Ridley made a basket to double the score to 30-15.
Pruett made three of three free throws to end the Cougar run, and Kennedy's dunk pulled Lander within 34-24 with 5:48 left.
But the lead grew back to 15, 41-26, on Peterson's jumper at the 4:22 mark. Darius Carrier's basket cut the Bearcat deficit to single digits, completing a 6-0 run that closed the gap to 41-32 with 2:48 left.
After the Cougars went back up by 13, Bailey drove to the basket for a layup with one second left in the half to cut Lander's deficit to 47-36 at the break.
Ridley knifed inside for a layup to increase Columbus's lead back to 15, 53-38, with 16:50 left and McKnight's put-back gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game to that point at 17.
The Bearcats put in their second-team at the 16:08 mark of the second half and they showed some life. Canty and Bastian laid in put-backs, Canty hit a mid-range jumper, and Bastian scored inside off a nice pass from Canty to pull Lander within 13 points, 59-46, with 12:22 to go.
Although Columbus built its lead back to 17, the Bearcats continued to battle. Bastian made a tough layup to end a sequence of about four Lander offensive rebounds at the 11-minute mark, and Tabasevic's 3-pointer from the left corner cut the deficit to 12, 63-51, with 9:45 to go.
Waterworth's second 3-pointer of the season closed the gap to 11, 65-54, at the 9:20 mark.
But the Cougar lead grew back to 15 once again when Ridley hit a short jumper to make it 71-56 with 6:51 left. Ridley would give Columbus its largest lead of the game at 19 points with another jumper, increasing the advantage to 75-56 with 5:12 to go.
Waterworth hit another 3-pointer as Lander pulled within 77-63 with 3:45 left and Tabasevic's reverse layup cut the Bearcat deficit to 12, 77-65, at the 2:50 mark. Broughton's layup off a nice pass from Mitchell continued the team's nice run from the bench.
Canty made two free throws with 59 seconds left as Lander had its smallest deficit of the second half at 80-70. And the rally would continue.
Broughton made his first 3-point shot attempt of the season – from the top of the key - and the Bearcats were finally within single digits, 84-75, with 24 seconds left. And after a Columbus turnover, Canty's put-back sliced the deficit to seven.