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Gabriel leads way as Bearcats upset first-place Augusta

Telvin Gabriel recorded career-highs of 18 points and six rebounds in Lander's upset win over Augusta on Wednesday night (Photo by Joshua S. Kelly)
Telvin Gabriel recorded career-highs of 18 points and six rebounds in Lander's upset win over Augusta on Wednesday night (Photo by Joshua S. Kelly)

GREENWOOD – Telvin Gabriel scored 12 of his career-high 18 points during a key stretch in the second half, helping the Lander Bearcats pull away for a 76-65 upset victory over Peach Belt Conference-leading Augusta University Wednesday night at Horne Arena.

Lander won its third consecutive game, improving to 8-12 overall, 5-6 in the PBC.

The Jaguars, who still lead the Peach Belt East Division, fell to 16-5 overall and 9-4 in the league.

The Bearcats saw a double-digit lead shrink to 46-40 at the 14-minute mark. But over the next 11 minutes, the senior scored 12 points on five of six shooting from the floor and a pair of free throws.

Gabriel led all scorers with his 18 points on eight of 10 shooting from the floor while adding a career-high six rebounds.

JR Washington added 17 points while leading Lander with seven rebounds and four assists. The senior has scored in double figures in each of his last 56 games.

Rahu Purdie added 13 points for the Bearcats, including a key 3-pointer late in the game. Jarryd Coleman made three 3s in the first half, finishing with 11 points.

Tyvez Monroe paced Augusta with 14 points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, the conference's second-leading scorer Keshun Sherrill was held about 10 points under his per game average as he finished with just 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting including just one of five from behind the arc.

Kyle Doyle added 11 points for the Jaguars.

Lander had a big shooting advantage, making 25 of 45 shots from the floor (56 percent) to just 21 of 53 for Augusta (40 percent).

After Deane Williams made a one-handed dunk to give the Jaguars a 17-15 advantage midway through the first half, Lander took the lead for good with eight unanswered points to make it 23-17.

Gabriel hit a game-tying hook shot off the glass, Coleman swished a 3 from the right side, and Washington nailed a 3 from the top of the key to complete the 8-0 run.

Coleman hit another 3 from the right side, upping the Bearcat lead to 28-19 at the five-minute mark. His third trey of the half, this from the left corner, gave Lander a 32-21 advantage with 3:44 left.

Purdie nailed a 3, giving the Bearcats a 37-26 lead with 1:31 to go.

Lander was up 37-28 at halftime.

Washington's long 3 in the first minute of the second half matched the Bearcats' largest lead at 39-28. Then Purdie's fast-break layup off Washington's back-court steal and pass handed Lander its biggest lead of the game at 44-31.

Monroe made a 3 and Doyle scored twice during a 9-2 Augusta run as the visitors closed within 46-40 with 14 minutes left.

Gabriel hit a short jumper in the lane, scored again on a layup off a nifty pass in the paint from Nicklas Jonsson, and Jonsson made one of two free throws extending the Bearcat lead to 51-40 with 11:19 to go.

Lander went scoreless for the next three minutes before Washington's two free throws gave the hosts a 53-43 advantage with 8:02 left. Coleman's two free throws upped the lead to 56-45 at the six-minute mark.

Gabriel scored twice more on driving layups and the Bearcats led 62-50 with 4:30 to go.

Gabriel struck again less than a minute later when he flung a backdoor pass to Washington for a layup and a 64-52 advantage with 3:50 left.

Gabriel continued to make plays down the stretch, scoring on a hook shot as the shot clock was expiring, grabbing a defensive rebound and hitting one of two free throws for a 67-52 lead inside the three-minute mark.

Purdie's 3 from the right wing gave Lander a 70-54 advantage with 2:17 to go.

Srdjan Ivic's two free throws upped the lead to 18.

Monroe converted a three-point play, and Sherrill and Monroe each hit 3s to make the final score more respectable.