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Lander holds off Clayton State as McKenith, Harris combine for 54 points

Lander holds off Clayton State as McKenith, Harris combine for 54 points

MORROW, Ga. – The Lander women's basketball team got a combined 54 points from Mylea McKenith and Jessica Harris, and survived a furious rally to beat Peach Belt Conference rival Clayton State 88-83 Wednesday night at the Clayton State Athletics and Fitness Center.

The Bearcats improved to 6-4 overall with their seventh consecutive win over Clayton State and are 3-1 in the Peach Belt. The Lakers fell to 4-4, 1-2.

Clayton State cut a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter down to three in the final seconds. But Harris clinched the victory with crucial free throws.

McKenith led all scorers with 28 points, making 11 of 24 shots from the floor. Harris added 26 points on seven of 14 shooting from the floor and 12 of 15 free throws while leading Lander with five assists.

Tabitha Dailey added 15 points on six of 10 shooting for the Bearcats. Symone Starks contributed nine points while Sarah Crews added seven points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

TaKwana Bland paced Clayton State with a career-high 21 points while adding four blocked shots. Taneria Wilson added 20 points for the Lakers.

Lander had slim leads of 18-17 after one quarter and 33-32 at halftime. The Bearcats had 17 offensive rebounds in the first half to Clayton State's three. But the game stayed close because Lander shot only 29 percent (13 of 34) in the opening half.

The Lakers took a short-lived 49-48 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter. But Lander went on a 25-9 run to turn a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead.

Harris converted a three-point play with under a minute to go in the third, giving the Bearcats a 55-49 advantage. McKenith's short jumper right before the buzzer upped Lander's lead to 57-52 going into the fourth.

McKenith's layup gave the Bearcats their first double-digit lead at 62-52 with 9:13 left in the game. Dailey put back a teammate's missed shot, was fouled and converted the three-point play to increase Lander's lead to 70-56 with 7:27 to go.

Crews completed a three-point play as the Bearcat lead grew to 15 points, 73-58, with 6:40 left.

Lander was up by as many as 17 and then Dailey answered a short Lakers run with a basket, giving the visitors an 81-68 lead with three minutes to go.

But Kelsie Towns scored with 48 seconds left to pull Clayton State within 83-77. Bland's three cut the deficit to 84-80 with 36 seconds to go and then the Lakers collected a quick turnover. But Wilson's trey attempt hit the front of the rim.

Harris made one of two free throws, giving Lander an 85-80 lead with 24 seconds to go. But Bland hit another three and Clayton State was within 85-83 with 16 seconds left.

Harris again made one of two free throws to give the Bearcats an 86-83 advantage with 14 seconds to go. The Lakers missed a pair of shots with Lander's Dailey grabbing the defensive rebound, and then Harris added two more free throws with one second left.