Washington hits winning 3 as Lander rallies past Fleet


GREENWOOD – JR Washington hit a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left as the Lander Bearcats outscored Erskine 24-9 over the game’s final nine minutes, outlasting their rival Flying Fleet 67-64 Thursday night at Horne Arena.

Lander beat Erskine for the fifth straight time, improving to 3-3 on the season. The Fleet from nearby Due West, S.C., fell to 3-4.

The two schools met for the 80th time, with Lander now holding a 48-32 overall lead in the series.

Rahu Purdie made some key plays down the stretch and led the Bearcats with 22 points and seven rebounds. Washington added 13 points and four assists.

Joby Glymph had a big second half for the Flying Fleet, finishing with 26 points on nine of 13 shooting from the floor while also leading his team with six rebounds and five assists. Thomas Nolan added 13 points and Nelson Spence contributed 10 points.

Erskine used a 26-6 run at the start of the second half to erase a six-point halftime deficit and led 55-41 with 9:09 left. But the Flying Fleet would fall behind before tying the game with a minute to go.

The Bearcats dribbled around, looking for a good shot. Washington wanted the ball and got it from Purdie and hit the 3 just to the left of the top of the key with an Erskine player guarding him closely, giving Lander a 67-64 lead.

Erskine’s Glymph made a layup with nine seconds left. Purdie was fouled on the inbounds pass and made both free throws for a 67-64 lead with 8.9 seconds to go.

The Flying Fleet dribbled up the court, called a timeout, and then attempted a long 3 from the left side with about two seconds left that bounced off the back of the rim, and Lander escaped with the victory.

Nicklas Jonsson‘s 3 from the right corner pulled Lander into a 15-all tie with 11:46 left in the opening half. Taylor Buffkin‘s driving layup gave the Bearcats a 17-15 lead with 10:50 to go.

Zezmon Steeple’s 3 put Erskine back on top, 19-17, with eight minutes left. But Lander scored six unanswered points on buckets by Clenzo Ross, Chris Tate and Washington for a 23-19 advantage inside the seven-minute mark.

Jarryd Coleman drained a 3 from the right corner, giving the Bearcats a 29-23 lead with 2:18 left. But one minute later, Erskine’s Nolan answered with a 3 of his own pulling the visitors within 29-26.

Lander led 32-26 at halftime.

The Bearcats opened the second half with Telvin Gabriel getting open under the basket, taking a pass from Jonsson and dunking.

But Glymph’s three-point play, Spence’s driving basket, Glymph’s baseline jumper, Spence’s layup off an inbounds pass, and Glymph’s long 3 gave Erskine 12 unanswered points and a 40-34 lead at the 16-minute mark.

Glymph made two free throws, giving the Flying Fleet its first double-digit lead at 46-36 with 13 minutes left. Glymph scored again on a long jumper for a 52-38 advantage with 10:56 to go, extending Erskine’s second-half run to 26-6.

Nolan’s 3 off a nifty pass from Glymph gave Erskine a 55-43 lead at the 9:09 mark.

Purdie’s pull-up jumper cut Lander’s deficit into single digits at 55-47 with 7:57 left, and he added a 3 closing the gap to 57-50 at the seven-minute mark. Tate’s short jumper cut it to 57-52 with 5:55 left.

Nolan hit a big 3 from the top of the key, upping the Fleet’s lead to 60-52 at the 5:32 mark. But Erskine would not score again for more than four minutes.

Jordan Dingle‘s basket in the paint pulled Lander within 60-56 inside four minutes to go and Gabriel hit one of two free throws to cut it to three with 2:47 left.

Purdie drove strong to the basket, made a layup, was fouled, and completed a three-point play to tie the game at 60-all with 1:54 to go.

Dingle’s put-back gave Lander a 62-60 lead with 1:15 left. But Nolan’s layup tied it at 62 with one minute to go, setting the stage for Washington’s heroics.

For the game, the Bearcats hit 20 of 54 shots from the floor (37 percent), 19 of 25 free throws (76 percent) and eight of 25 from 3-point range (32 percent) while holding a 40-35 edge on the boards.

Erskine made 25 of 57 shots (44 percent), eight of 12 free throws (75 percent) and only six of 26 from behind the arc (23 percent).

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