MORROW, Ga. – The Lander men's basketball team placed five players in double figures but fell short 72-68 to Peach Belt Conference rival Clayton State Wednesday night at the Clayton State Athletics and Fitness Center.
The Bearcats fell to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the PBC. The Lakers improved to 4-5, 1-2.
Lander pulled within a single point with 17 seconds left but couldn't finish the rally in the team's final game of the calendar year.
Marquel Wiggins paced the Bearcats with 15 points and eight rebounds. DeShundre Rucker added 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high four assists. Rahu Purdie contributed 12 points for Lander while Jordan Dingle added 10 points and seven boards.
Kyle Kincey led Clayton State with 15 points while sharing game-high honors with eight rebounds. JaCarl Owens added 12 points, eight boards and a game-high five assists for the Lakers. Jaylin Taylor scored 10 points for Clayton State.
Lander took a 26-25 lead on Robinson's layup with 6:12 left in the opening half. But the Lakers closed the first half on a 14-5 run, building a 40-30 halftime advantage.
Clayton State led 51-40 on a layup by Ricardo Saams with 13:30 to go. But Dingle made a three-pointer and converted a three-point play, and Robinson made consecutive baskets to pull the Bearcats within 51-50 inside the 10-minute mark.
Lander had a chance to take the lead with nine minutes left but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Justin Tuckson's layup gave the Lakers a 62-56 advantage just inside the four-minute mark. Christoff Nairn's three increased Clayton State's lead to 65-58 with 3:21 to go.
Purdie's three-pointer from the left corner pulled Lander within 65-63 with 2:03 left. But Taylor's dunk extended the Laker lead to four with 1:43 to go.
Wiggins made a pair of free throws and the Bearcats were within 67-65 with 1:02 left.
After Taylor made one of two free throws to make it 68-65, Purdie's two free throws closed Lander within 68-67 with 17 seconds remaining.
The Bearcats fouled Kincey in the back-court and he went two-for-two from the line to make it 70-67 with 15 seconds to go.
Lander's Robinson made one of two free throws with 11 seconds left to pull the visitors within two. Nairn rebounded Robinson's miss, was fouled and hit both free throws giving the Lakers a 72-68 advantage at the nine-second mark. The Bearcats immediately turned the ball over and the hosts were able to run out the clock.