GREENWOOD – Senior Breshay Johnson scored 19 points as the No. 15-ranked Lander Bearcats outlasted Limestone College 69-65 Saturday afternoon at Horne Arena.
The attendance of 671 fans was one of the largest ever to attend a Lander women's basketball home opener.
The Bearcats improved to 2-1. Limestone, ranked No. 28, fell to 2-1.
Mylea McKenith added 13 points, six steals and four assists for Lander while Christal Williams contributed 10 points. Johnson led the Bearcats with six rebounds and was clutch at the free-throw line, making seven of eight.
Jasmine Richardson paced the Saints with 19 points, Taylour Hunter scored 18 points, and Keidra Smith added a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
McKenith made a 3-pointer and a jump shot during a 9-0 run, staking Lander to an early 11-4 advantage. The Bearcats would lead 19-13 after one quarter.
After Limestone scored the first basket of the second period, Lander scored the game's next 11 points to build a 30-15 lead. McKenith found Johnson open under the basket for a layup, McKenith stole the ball along the baseline and laid it in, Alexius High nailed two free throws, Ariana Sanders stole a pass in the paint and drove to the opposite end for a basket, Destinee Langford hit one of two free throws, and Sanders made a jumper for a 15-point Bearcats advantage.
But Hunter and Smith each converted three-point plays as the Saints closed the first half with a 10-2 run, pulling within 32-25 at the break.
Lea Petit scored to give Lander a 39-31 lead with 5:37 left in the third quarter. Limestone rallied on baskets by Taylor, Cameron Martin and Smith to close within 39-37 approaching the three-minute mark.
Johnson converted a three-point play and added two free throws, and Langford hit two more free throws after being fouled on a driving layup attempt with three seconds left for a 48-39 Bearcats lead.
But Jayla Moore launched a 3-point attempt one step across midcourt and it was nothing but net at the buzzer, pulling the Saints within 48-42 going into the final quarter.
Lander responded with the first six points of the fourth period. McKenith nailed a long jumper from the left side, Williams collected a steal and converted it into points by hitting a jump shot in the paint, and McKenith added a back-court steal and layup extending the Bearcats lead to 54-42.
Langford scored consecutive baskets, giving the Bearcats their largest lead of the second half at 13 points, 58-45, with 8:36 to go. Chelsea Mitchell's basket matched the biggest lead making it 60-47 with 7:33 left.
But Limestone stormed back. The Saints went on a 14-3 run with Taylor scoring five points and Richardson hitting a pair of layups, and then Richardson converted two free throws that cut Lander's lead to only 63-61 with 1:47 to go.
Johnson came through with another clutch basket, scoring off a pass from McKenith to extend the Bearcat lead to 65-61 at the 1:28 mark. Just a few seconds later, Limestone lost the ball out of bounds in front of the Lander bench.
McKenith milked the clock and was fouled at the shot-clock buzzer and nailed both free throws for a 67-61 advantage with 29 seconds left.
Richardson's two free throws pulled the Saints within 67-63 and then they collected a back-court steal but couldn't convert into points. After Mitchell made one of two free throws for Lander, Richardson's layup cut Limestone's deficit to 68-65 with six seconds to go. But Williams made one of two free throws to ice the victory.