AMERICUS, Ga. – The Lander men's basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half, but could not hold on over the final four minutes as Georgia Southwestern stormed back to claim a 76-74 win on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats (5-6, 1-4 PBC) trailed 45-35 less than five minutes into the second half, but fought back to build a 67-58 advantage with 4:18 remaining following a pair of Rahu Purdie free throws. However, the Hurricanes (5-3, 1-3 PBC) outscored Lander 18-7 down the stretch, aided by six Bearcat turnovers, to earn their first Peach Belt Conference win of the season.
Nicklas Jonsson led the Bearcats with 17 points, while Purdie added 14 on the afternoon. Chris Tate and Sidney Robinson each posted 10 points off the bench. Srdjan Ivic led the team with seven rebounds.
A back-and-forth first half ended with a 6-0 Hurricane run before Robinson's layup in the waning seconds cut the Lander deficit to 34-29 at intermission. Jonsson netted 10 of his 17 points in the first half.
After Georgia Southwestern built its largest lead of the day at the 17:53 mark of the second half, the Bearcats rallied, taking their first lead of the half on a Purdie jumper with 10:30 to go. After a pair of Hurricane free throws, the teams traded layups before Jonsson connected from deep to give Lander a 56-54 advantage. Back-to-back buckets from Tate increased the lead to six points and Purdie's free throws with 4:18 to play put Lander up by nine.
The Hurricane defense took over, turning six Lander turnovers into 10 points as Georgia Southwestern fought back. A three-pointer from Jason Weaver with 49 seconds left put the Hurricanes up 73-71 and following a missed three from Purdie, Quentin Taylor sealed the game with a pair of free throws. The Bearcats missed four consecutive shots from the field before Tate's buzzer-beating three made the final score 76-74.
Lander returns home Wednesday, Jan. 3, to face UNC Pembroke in Horne Arena at 7:30 p.m.