GREENWOOD – Lander senior forward Srdjan Ivic posted a double-double and made a big tip-in basket in the final minute as the Bearcats recovered from blowing a 24-point second half lead and defeated Peach Belt Conference rival Flagler College 77-70 Saturday afternoon at Horne Arena.
Lander improved to 6-7 overall, 2-5 in the Peach Belt. The Saints fell to 4-6, 1-5.
The Bearcats outscored Flagler 15-0 over the final two minutes of the first half and first two minutes of the second half to build a 50-26 lead. But Flagler stormed back and eventually tied the game at 67 with two minutes to go.
Ivic contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds, 10 on the defensive end. TJ Knight scored all nine of his points in the first half for the Bearcats, Nicklas Jonsson paced Lander with four assists, and Sergio Smith had four blocked shots.
Flagler's Damerit Brown led all scorers with 25 points, making 10 of 18 shots from the floor. Vaughn McCall added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Saints as he and Brown scored 45 of their team's 70 points.
Jeffercy Jean added 12 points and five assists for Flagler while Phil Brown had three blocked shots.
Knight's first 3-pointer of the season capped a run of 10 unanswered points, giving the Bearcats a 16-10 lead with 14:44 left in the opening half. Ivic's free throw gave Lander its first double-digit lead at 25-15 with 8:25 to go.
Dingle's transition 3 gave the Bearcats a 31-22 advantage at the 6:17 mark. Jonsson found Rankin open in the right corner for a 3, extending Lander's lead to 35-24 with 3:22 to go.
The Bearcats closed the first half with an 8-0 run over the final two minutes. Ivic drove to the goal for a lay-in, Dingle made a floater in the lane, Rankin grabbed a steal and drove in for a dunk, and Purdie added two free throws for a 43-26 halftime lead.
Lander continued the run of unanswered points with seven more to start the second half. Dingle capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner, giving the Bearcats 15 consecutive points since the two-minute mark of the first half for a 50-26 lead with 18 minutes to go.
Flagler made its first run of the game with eight points in a row, with Brown's 3 from the left side pulling the visitors within 50-34. McCall's 3 closed the Saints within 52-37 at the 15-minute mark.
Jean's three-point play cut Flagler's deficit to 52-40 with 14:45 left. Brown's long jumper closed the Saints within 54-44 inside 13 minutes to go.
McCall's 3 from the right corner cut Flagler's deficit into single digits for the first time in the second half, making it 56-48 with 11:13 left. Brown's free throws sliced the score to 58-51 with 10:37 to go.
Brown's 3 pulled the Saints within 60-54 with 8:39 left. McCall's jumper cut Flagler's deficit to 65-60 at the five-minute mark.
The Saints had a chance to cut it to one possession, but Lander's Smith blocked a shot and Rankin made a lay-in on the other end for a 67-60 lead with 4:26 left.
Flagler did succeed at cutting its deficit down to a possession on Brown's driving basket making it 67-64 with 3:36 to go. Still down three, the Saints were called for traveling with three minutes left.
After an empty possession for the Bearcats, Jean drove to the basket, laid it in, was fouled and converted the free throw to tie the game at 67 at the two-minute mark.
This time, Lander responded as Rankin took a back-door pass from Purdie and made the layup putting the Bearcats back on top 69-67 with 1:48 left.
Flagler committed a turnover and after Lander missed a shot, Jonsson tapped the offensive rebound out to a teammate and the hosts ran several more seconds off the clock. Late in the shot clock, Ivic tipped in Jonsson's missed shot in the paint for a 71-67 lead with 50 seconds left.
But Chris Williams cut it to 71-70 with 28 seconds left on a three-point play for the Saints.
Purdie made a pair of free throws, giving the Bearcats a 73-70 lead with 20 seconds to go.
Brown missed a step-back 3 attempt with 10 seconds left and teammate McCall missed another 3. Ivic got the defensive rebound and was fouled with one second to go. Flagler's coach also drew a technical foul, and the game ended as Dingle hit two technical free throws and Ivic added two more.