DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Lander men's basketball team rallied from an 18-point first half deficit behind a career-high 30 points from Rahu Purdie, scoring 65 second half points to knock off North Georgia, 110-106, on Wednesday night.
The 110-106 win marked the second-highest scoring game in program history, surpassed only by a 116-102 win over Limestone on Feb. 24, 1979. The 110 points by the Bearcats (7-11, 3-9 PBC) were the most in a game since a 111-67 win over Hiwassee on Dec. 29, 2010, and the most ever against a Peach Belt Conference opponent.
All 110 of Lander's points came from just six players, as Purdie led the pack with 30. Sergio Smith added 23 and Jordan Dingle finished with 21, both career highs. Shaquan Cantrell led North Georgia (8-9, 6-5 PBC) with 28 points.
The Nighthawks built an 18-point lead late in the first half and 59-45 at halftime. A three-point play from Smith pulled the Bearcats within nine points at the 17:04 mark and a Jordan Dingle layup capped an 8-3 Bearcat spurt and narrowed the deficit to 78-76 with 10:00 left to play.
North Georgia built a 96-88 lead with 4:55 to go, but Lander launched another furious rally. After a pair of Purdie free throws, Dingle knocked down a three-pointer to pull the Bearcats to 96-93. Cantrell answered with a layup at the other end, but Purdie brought Lander back to within two with another three-pointer. A missed jumper led to a game-tying layup by Purdie and the Bearcats took their first lead, 100-98, on a Zane Rankin layup with 2:45 remaining.
After the Nighthawks answered to tie the game, Purdie drew a foul and converted a pair of free throws. North Georgia went to the line on their next possession, but a lane violation negated the second free throw, giving Lander a 102-101 advantage with 1:40 left. Purdie made two more free throws and a Nighthawk offensive rebound and putback brought the score to 104-103 with 1:23 to play.
Purdie put the Bearcats back up three with a fadeaway off the baseline, but North Georgia answered with a layup by Cantrell at the other end. Cantrell had a chance to tie the game with a free throw, but missed to keep the Lander lead at one. The Nighthawks put Purdie back on the line and the junior knocked down two more to give the Bearcats a 108-105 lead.
North Georgia missed a key free throw on its next possession and Purdie made two more from the charity stripe to ice the game with 15 seconds remaining. Purdie finished the evening 17-of-18 from the line and made 10-of-10 free throw attempts in the final 2:08.
Lander returns home on Saturday afternoon to host Augusta at 3:30 p.m.