No. 19 Lady Bearcats claim Homecoming win over FMU

Mukia Myrick

GREENWOOD – Mukia Myrick scored 22 points and Ciara Lyons added a double-double as No. 19 Lander stayed unbeaten in the Peach Belt Conference with a 96-62 victory over Francis Marion University Saturday afternoon during Homecoming at Horne Arena.

The Lady Bearcats scored 20 unanswered points, including the final 17 points of the first half, to break the game open.

Lander improved to 17-3 overall with its 11th consecutive win, and is 12-0 in the PBC.

Francis Marion fell to 6-14, 2-11.

Myrick scored 15 of her 22 points in the first half as the senior guard fell one point shy of matching her career-high of 23 points set Jan. 28 at Georgia College & State University.

Lyons added 18 points and 12 assists, tying her career-high in assists set Dec. 10, 2011, versus Southern Wesleyan.

Brittni Johnson had 16 points, five assists and three steals for the Lady Bearcats, while Kaylyn Small added 16 points on eight of 13 shooting from the floor and a team-high eight rebounds. Small matched her season-high in points.

Jasmine Judge added 12 points on four 3-pointers for Lander, extending her career PBC record to 370. Judge is the nation's leading 3-point shooter. She was honored before the game with a plaque recognizing her accomplishments.

Kristen Dickerson led the Patriots with 16 points while T.T. Belcher was the game's top rebounder with 16. Belcher, Brittany Christian and Chelsey Johnson scored eight points apiece for Francis Marion.

The Lady Bearcats made 34 of 74 shots from the floor (46 percent), 16 of 23 free throws (70 percent) and 12 of 28 from 3-point range (43 percent).

Francis Marion hit 26 of 67 shots (39 percent), six of eight free throws (75 percent), and four of 16 from behind the arc (25 percent).

Lander had a 44-41 edge on the boards and forced 22 Patriots turnovers while committing only seven.

Johnson and Myrick hit early 3s and Small made a layup, staking Lander to a 12-4 lead. After Emilee Dunton and Christian nailed 3s to pull the Patriots within 12-10 at the 15:34 mark, the Lady Bearcats quickly doubled their lead to 20-10 on Judge's long 3, a layup by Lyons off a length-of-the-court pass from Myrick, and Johnson's 3 from the left corner.

The next 10 shots were missed, including six by Lander, mostly layups, before Belcher scored off an offensive rebound to close Francis Marion within 20-12.

Small's reverse layup ended the Lady Bearcat scoring drought and Judge's 3 on Lander's next possession upped the lead to 26-14 midway through the first half.

The Lady Bearcats doubled their advantage to 32-16 on Johnson's back-court steal and layup, and to 36-18 when Small scored off a steal by Rachelle Rasley.

Francis Marion closed within 14 on Belcher's free throws and a basket by Jasmine Williams-Hayes, making it 36-22 at the 4:53 mark.

But Lander overwhelmed the Patriots with a 17-0 run to close the first half. Over the final 4:40, Francis Marion committed seven turnovers and got off only two shots, missing them both.

Myrick started the 17 unanswered points with the first six points, including a 3, a layup during a possession kept alive by two offensive rebounds, and a free throw.

Johnson made a 3, Lyons scored on a fast break, Myrick hit a jumper from the free throw line, and Johnson swished a 3 from the right corner on another possession kept alive by two offensive rebounds for a 53-22 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half.

Lander took that 31-point lead to the locker room at halftime.

The run of unanswered points continued into the second half, ending at 20 on a Lyons free throw and a Myrick layup, making it 56-22 inside the 18-minute mark.

Christian made a layup with 17:37 left, ending Francis Marion's seven-minute plus scoring drought.

Christian's 3-pointer gave the Lady Patriots three made shots in a row, but they still faced a doubled-up score deficit of 58-29 with 16:14 to go.

Judge's 3-pointer matched Lander's largest lead of the game at 34 points, 63-29, at the 16-minute mark.

With the starters taking a breather, the Lady Bearcats doubled their lead once again to 70-35 when Janyce Ealey converted a three-point play with 12:25 left.

Francis Marion went on a 16-4 run including six points by Williams-Hayes and a pair of layups by Dickerson, pulling within 74-51 on Belcher's layup at the 6:23 mark.

But Lander wasn't done, going on a 14-4 run that included Small's three baskets in the paint, two of which were reverse layups, and 3s by Lyons and Judge for an 88-55 lead with 3:49 to go. Myrick added a 3-pointer, and Ealey three more points in the final minutes.