GREENWOOD – JR Washington scored 24 points but the Lander Bearcats fell short in their final non-conference game of the season, losing to Limestone College 83-81 Thursday night at Horne Arena.
Lander fell to 3-7 on the season. The Saints improved to 10-2.
The Bearcats host Clayton State Wednesday, Jan. 4, as part of a Peach Belt Conference double-header. Lander's men are 0-2 in the PBC.
Washington is fifth on Lander's all-time scoring list and has scored in double figures in each of his last 48 games. The senior is 11 points shy of tying Alonzo Harrison for fourth on the school's all-time scoring list.
Limestone's Shaun Stewart led all scorers with 30 points, making 12 of 19 shots from the floor. Shaq Dance added a double-double with 24 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Saints, and Teron Wallace contributed 14 points. Stewart added a game-high nine assists.
Clenzo Ross added 15 points for the Bearcats, Rahu Purdie scored 13 points, and Chris Tate added 12 points on five of five shooting from the floor while leading Lander with eight rebounds. Washington and Tate added seven rebounds apiece, and Washington paced the Bearcats with five assists.
It was Lander's first home game since Dec. 1 when the Bearcats beat Erskine. They have since lost at Wingate, Montevallo and North Georgia before falling in a nationally-televised game at the University of South Carolina Tuesday night despite outscoring the Gamecocks in the second half.
Limestone made six of its first seven shots from the floor including Wallace's second 3-pointer in a row, giving the visitors a 15-3 lead with 16:26 left in the opening half.
The Bearcats twice pulled within four with Washington's jumper cutting the deficit to 17-13 at the 11:38 mark and Jarryd Coleman's first 3 of the night closing them within 20-16 with 11:05 to go. Coleman's second trey pulled Lander within 22-19 just inside the 10-minute mark.
After Dance's 3 gave the Saints a 34-26 lead, Jordan Dingle and Ross hit treys as Lander was within 34-32 with 3:18 left. Ross made one of two free throws to pull the Bearcats within 36-35 at the 2:21 mark.
Stewart swished consecutive 3s, giving Limestone a 44-37 lead inside the one-minute mark. Washington's first 3 of the night pulled the Bearcats within 44-40 at halftime.
Washington scored Lander's first five points of the second half, then slid a no-look pass to Telvin Gabriel for a layup that gave the Bearcats their first lead of the game at 47-46 with 17:33 to go.
Tate followed up a block shot on one end with a driving basket at the other, giving Lander a 51-48 advantage at the 15:35 mark.
Dance made two free throws, putting the Saints back on top 54-53 with 12:53 left.
Tate's layup ended Limestone's 11-0 run, closing Lander within 59-55 inside the 12-minute mark.
Tate broke down the lane and delivered a left-handed dunk, pulling the Bearcats within 67-65 with 6:25 left. But Stewart answered with his third 3 of the game for a five-point Limestone lead at the six-minute mark.
Dingle's basket pulled Lander within 72-71 with 4:28 to go. But Kenny Hairston stole an errant Bearcats pass and made a driving layup, extending Limestone's lead to 76-71 with 2:29 left.
Washington's driving layup cut Lander's deficit to 78-75 with 1:32 to go. And after Stewart scored for Limestone, Purdie nailed a 3 as the Bearcats were within 80-78 with 43 seconds left.
But as Stewart was squeezed by a double team just inside the 3-point arc, he made a nifty pass under the basket to Macoumba Kane for a layup and an 82-78 lead with 24 seconds to go.
Lander's last comeback attempt ended on a missed 3-pointer and a turnover on consecutive possessions.