GREENWOOD – Georgia College didn’t take its first lead of the night until 2:10 was left in the game and survived Rahu Purdie‘s missed shot in the final seconds to outlast the Lander Bearcats 68-67 in the Peach Belt Conference opener for both teams Monday at Horne Arena.
Lander fell to 2-2 overall, 0-1 in the PBC. The Bobcats improved to 3-2, 1-0.
Nicklas Jonsson led Lander with 15 points while Srdjan Ivic added a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Purdie and Sergio Smith added 11 points apiece for the Bearcats.
Chapin Rierson paced Georgia College with 15 points, making six of 10 shots from the floor. Isaac Thomas added 12 points while leading the Bobcats with eight rebounds. Kohl Roberts scored 10 points, Andrew Prestwood and Garrick DeBowles added nine apiece, and Austin Dukes led Georgia College with six assists.
Purdie opened the game with a 3 and Ivic also hit a trey, staking Lander to a 9-0 lead at the 18:31 mark. But Georgia College pulled within 15-11 with 14:16 left in the opening half when Isaac Thomas drove in and dunked.
Leading 17-13, the Bearcats went on a 12-4 run with Jordan Dingle making a jump shot, Jarryd Coleman knocking down a 3 from the right corner, Chris Tate tipping in an offensive rebound, Jonsson draining a 3 from the left side, and Coleman hitting a fast-break layup for a 29-17 advantage with 6:10 to go.
Ivic found Jonsson open in the left corner for a 3, giving Lander a 37-25 lead with 35 seconds until halftime and the hosts were up 37-27 at the break.
The Bobcats scored the first six points of the second half including a pair of Thomas baskets in the paint to pull the visitors within 37-33. But Lander responded with a 9-0 run, with Smith scoring three times and Jonsson converting a three-point play building the lead to 46-33 at the 16-minute mark.
Rierson made a pair of 3s and Roberts added a basket during an 8-0 run as Georgia College pulled within 46-41 with 13:21 to go. After Lander freshman Zane Rankin made a 3 and Smith dunked off a back-door pass from Ivic, the Bobcats got within 51-48 at the 11-minute mark on Prestwood’s 3.
Georgia College closed within two points on three occasions, including a DeBowles layup making it 57-55 with seven minutes to go.
Jonsson’s driving shot off the glass put the Bearcats back up 62-55 with five minutes left. But Roberts scored back-to-back layups, the last off a lob pass from Dukes to tie the game at 64 with 2:49 to go.
The Bobcats took their first lead of the night with 2:10 left in the game, 66-65, when DeBowles made a pair of free throws.
Lander regained the lead at 67-66 with 2:02 to go when Purdie made two free throws. Georgia College went back ahead on Jordan Thomas’s layup, making it 68-67 at the 1:05 mark.
The Bearcats turned the ball over with 49 seconds left. Georgia College ran some clock and drove toward the basket but also lost the ball with 23 seconds to go. Purdie was credited with the steal and got to ball to Jonsson under the basket, but Jonsson’s shot was blocked by Rierson.
Lander had yet another chance when Dukes missed the front end of a one-and-one that was rebounded by Ivic with 15.5 seconds to go. Ivic got the ball to Purdie, who dribbled to the right side with the clock winding down. Purdie attempted a deep 3-point attempt with three seconds left but it bounced off the rim.