Aiken, S.C. – The No. 15-ranked Lander women’s basketball team got 10 or more points from four different sources on Friday night as the Bearcats notched a crucial non-conference win against No. 24-ranked Lincoln Memorial. Junior center Lea Petit recorded a team-high 14 points and three blocks to help Lander to the 65-60 season opening win.
The two teams traded the lead seven times in the opening three minutes of the first quarter. Lincoln Memorial finally gained the momentum after the team’s third straight fast break bucket to take an 11-7 advantage with 5:56 remaining.
With 4:27 remaining, the Railsplitters mounted an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 21-10. Junior guard Christal Williams converted on a three-point play with five seconds remaining to cut the Lincoln Memorial lead to 25-15 ahead of the second quarter.
The Lander offense came to life in the second quarter as the Bearcats opened the period with a 15-5 run in the first six minutes. Senior Mylea McKenith and junior Victoria Baldwin found their range with two straight threes to make the score 30-27 in favor of Lander.
The two sides struggled late in the second quarter as the Railsplitters scored just five points during the last three minutes, while the Bearcats got only four. Lincoln Memorial guard Rachel Griffith connected on a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to tie the score at 34 before the half.
The Bearcats climbed out to a six-point advantage midway through the third quarter. The run was sparked by senior Breshay Johnson who asserted her will with two rebounds, two steals and four made free throws to give Lander a 45-39 lead with 4:35 left. Williams registered the team’s final five points of the period as the team headed into the fourth quarter with a 50-43 advantage.
Johnson found another field goal in the paint with 5:43 remaining in regulation to give Lander its largest lead of the game at 58-49. The Bearcats kept Lincoln Memorial at arm’s length down the stretch as the Railsplitters failed to cut the Lander lead to any less than five points. Sophomore Jessica Harris made three free throws and Williams added two more to seal off a 65-60 win for the Bearcats on opening day.
Johnson came just one rebound shy of her 28th career double-double. Lander notched a field goal percentage of 38.5 while shooting 31.3 percent from distance. The Bearcats overcame a Lincoln Memorial offense that compiled 7 more points off the bench, 9 more points off second chances and 10 more points on fast breaks.