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Washington leads Lander to upset of Clayton State

JR Washington scored 30 points to lead Lander to an upset over Clayton State in the PBC Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday night (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)
JR Washington scored 30 points to lead Lander to an upset over Clayton State in the PBC Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday night (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)

MORROW, Ga. – JR Washington scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Lander Bearcats upset the Western Division champion Clayton State Lakers on Saturday night to advance to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season.

Lander improved to 12-17 overall, while the Lakers ended their season at 16-13.

The Bearcats are the first No. 4 seed out of the East to beat the West's top seed since the tournament switched to the current format in 2010.

Lander will face the East's second-seed, UNC Pembroke, in Horne Arena on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in the semifinals. 

Washington's double-double led the Bearcats, while Clenzo Ross and Nicklas Jonsson each added 13 points. Ross, Srdjan Ivic and Chris Tate each grabbed five rebounds. 

Clayton State's Maurice White led the Lakers with 27 points, while Dantez Bennamon netted 17. 

Lander trailed 41-34 with 15:57 remaining, but tied the score at 43-43 with a 9-2 run capped by a three-point play from Washington. 

The Bearcats took the lead at 46-45 on a Jonsson three-pointer at the 11:39 mark. The lead then swung back and forth four times before a 7-0 Lander run made it 57-50 Bearcats with 7:33 to play. 

Neither team made a field goal over the final 3:50 and a pair of free throws from Bennamon tied the game at 67-67 with 12 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. 

In the first overtime with the game tied at 73-73, Purdied connected on a three-pointer to Lander ahead by three with 2:25 to go. After a layup from Alfonso Davis cut the lead to one, Washington stole the ball from Kyle Kincey for a breakway layup that gave the Bearcats a 78-75 lead with 49 seconds to play. 

Davis then found Nathan Powell for a game-tying three with 31 seconds left on the clock to force a second overtime period. 

The lead switched hands seven times in the first four minutes of double-overtime before a pair of free throws from Ross put Lander up 87-85 with 56 seconds remaining. Jaumonee Byrd missed a game-tying layup and Ivic secured the rebound before Ross was fouled again, this time with 12 seconds to go. 

The junior drained two more free throws to give the Bearcats an 89-85 advantage. 

Clayton State had chances to rally in the closing seconds, but the Lakers went 1-for-4 from the charity stripe in the final eight seconds, securing the upset for the Bearcats.