GREENWOOD – The Lander Bearcats cruised to a season-opening 70-53 victory over Brevard College Friday night in the opening round of the Bearcat Classic at Horne Arena.
Preseason All Peach Belt senior guard JR Washington, freshman guard Nicklas Jonsson, junior guard Jarryd Coleman and sophomore guard Rahu Purdie all scored in double figures as Lander opened the season at 1-0.
Washington led Lander with 19 points, Jonsson added 15, Coleman recorded 11 and Purdie chipped in 10. Washington paced the Bearcats with six assists.
Omar El diraoui and Steve Williams led the Brevard Tornados (0-1) with 14 points and nine rebounds apiece.
Lander will meet Carson-Newman Saturday at 3 o'clock in its final game of the Bearcat Classic at Horne Arena, followed by Brevard versus Southern Wesleyan at 5 p.m.
Down 10-9 at around the 12-minute mark, Lander would not trail again as Coleman's 3 from the left corner and Washington's steal and breakaway dunk made it 14-10 at the midway point of the first half.
Although Brevard did tie the game at 18-all, the Bearcats took the lead for good on reverse layups by Jonsson and Washington, followed by Washington's first 3 of the season to make it 25-18 at the five-minute mark.
Lander took its first double-digit lead on Washington's three-point play, putting the hosts up 31-21 with 2:12 left. Taylor Buffkin hit a 3 in the final 30 seconds of the first half, helping stake the Bearcats to a 36-24 lead at the break.
Purdie grabbed an offensive rebound, tip-toed just inbounds and hit a baseline jumper to increase Lander's lead to 40-26 with just over 17 minutes left.
Williams hit a short floater in the lane to pull the Tornados within 42-32 at around the 15-minute mark. But the Bearcats were back up by 14 on Purdie's driving layup off a pass from Jordan Dingle, matching the team's biggest lead at 46-32.
Lander extended its lead to 53-36 on Coleman's 3-pointer, Sergio Smith's put-back, and Washington's driving layup through a crowd in the lane with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Washington's long 3 from in front of the Bearcats bench increased the home team's lead to 56-41 with 7:13 to go.
Coleman's third 3 of the game gave Lander a 63-48 advantage with 2:10 left. Jonsson drove inside for a layup and Coleman added a pair of free throws, making it 67-50 with 1:07 to go. Jonsson added a 3-pointer in the final minute.