COLUMBIA, S.C. – Facing a Division I program that won 25 games last season, the Lander Bearcat men's basketball team shook off a rough start to outscore South Carolina 46-37 in the second half before falling to the Gamecocks by a score of 90-62 on Tuesday night in Colonial Life Arena.
The Bearcats, who were facing a Division I team for the first time since 2010, fall to 3-7 on the season, while South Carolina moves to 10-2 overall.
JR Washington paced the Bearcats with 16 points and five rebounds, moving past Hal McManus for fifth-place on Lander's all-time scoring list. The senior has scored at least 10 points in each of his last 47 games.
Rahu Purdie scored 11 points and dished three assists, while Clenzo Ross led the Bearcats with four assists, grabbed five rebounds and pumped in eight points. Chris Tate and TJ Knight each collected five rebounds and Jarryd Coleman added a pair of assists.
Rakym Felder led the Gamecocks, a Southeastern Conference team that barely missed out on a NCAA Tournament bid last season, with 20 points, making five of six shots from the beyond the arc. PJ Dozier added 15 points, while Duane Notice scored 13 points. Maik Kotsar finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Chris Silva also contributed 11 rebounds.
For the game, Lander shot 22-of-62 from the field (35.5 percent), 13-of-19 from the charity stripe (68.4 percent), and 5-of-23 from beyond the arc (21.7 percent).
South Carolina was 35-of-67 from the floor (52.2 percent), 10-of-16 at the free throw line (62.5 percent), and 10-of-21 from 3-point range (47.6 percent).
The Gamecocks had a 45-33 edge on the boards. Lander committed 13 turnovers to South Carolina's 12, while swiping seven steals.
Lander took an early 2-0 lead on a layup from Knight before South Carolina embarked on a 19-0 run to seize control of the first half and take a 53-16 lead in to the locker rooms.
With the Bearcats trailing 73-33 with 12:19 to play, Ross drilled a three-pointer to spark a 10-0 Bearcat run. Washington followed up with a three of his own and layups from Tate and Gabriel trimmed the Gameocck lead to 73-43 with 10:30 remaining.
Lander finished the night with a 7-0 run over the final 1:50, as Nicklas Jonsson netted a layup under the basket before Washington intercepted a pass and was fouled in transition, leading to a pair of made free throws. Purdie capped the scoring with a three-pointer, Lander's fifth of the half, with 16 seconds left to play.
The Bearcats return home after a four-game road stretch to take on Limestone at 7:00 p.m., on Thursday night.