GREENWOOD – Junior guard Rahu Purdie scored 22 points as the Lander Bearcats used an 18-6 run in the second half to pull away from Wingate University 76-59 Tuesday night in Lander's home opener at Horne Arena.
The Bearcats improved to 2-1 on the season while Wingate fell to 2-3.
"Defensively, we were really good tonight," said head coach Steve Roberts. "I felt that they kind of found a rhythm in the second half, but that's just the coach in you. They cut it to 12 or 14 in the second half and I wanted to make sure we got a 'dub' because this win can help us. We wouldn't have had much turkey on Thanksgiving if we would have lost this game."
Purdie made six of 11 shots from the floor and all 10 free throws to lead all scorers while also pacing Lander with five assists.
Chris Tate added a fine all-round game for the Bearcats, scoring 12 points including a pair of dunks and a 3-pointer while adding two blocked shots.
Nicklas Jonsson also scored 12 points for Lander while adding four assists. Srdjan Ivic paced the Bearcats with five rebounds.
Ten Bearcats scored in the game.
Defensively, Lander held Wingate to just 34 percent shooting from the floor (19 of 56) including only 15 percent from behind the 3-point line (four of 27).
The Bearcats attempted the same number of shots, hitting 27 of 56 (48 percent) including five of 16 (31 percent) from behind the arc.
Zeriq Lolar paced the Bulldogs with 11 points, Marco Haskins scored 10 points, Kerigan Farley added 10 points and five assists, and Quantra Taylor contributed nine points while being the game's top rebounder with eight.
Lander used an 11-0 run to break an early 8-all tie. Purdie gave the Bearcats the lead for good when he banked a floater off the glass, Sergio Smith scored inside, Tate flushed a breakaway dunk off a Zane Rankin steal, Rankin swished a 3 from the left corner, and Purdie got a friendly bounce on his fall-away jumper for a 19-8 lead at the midway point of the opening half.
Ivic made a layup off a nice interior pass from Jonsson, increasing the Bearcat lead to 23-10 inside the six-minute mark. The lead doubled to 28-14 with under four minutes left on Kade Marra's 3 from the left side.
TJ Knight made a layup off a long pass from Sidney Robinson, giving Lander a 33-16 advantage with 1:37 to go.
Tate capped a strong Bearcats defensive effort in the first half when he leaped across the lane and blocked a Wingate shot out of bounds.
Lander led 33-18 at the break, making 12 of 32 shots from the floor (44 percent) while holding the Bulldogs to only six of 22 shooting (27 percent).
Wingate made a mild comeback, scoring the first five points of the second half pulling within 33-23 on a Haskins 3-pointer with 18:46 left.
But the Bearcats extended their lead with an impressive 18-6 run. The final 14 points included Purdie's three-point play off a sprint to the basket, Jordan Dingle's 3 from the right corner, Jonsson's three-point play on another drive to the hole, a 3 by Jonsson from the left corner off a turnover, and Tate's strong, left-handed dunk off a pass into the paint from Jonsson making it 51-29 at the 14:29 mark.
Charlie Hovasse's 3 pulled the Bulldogs within 57-45 at the eight-minute mark. But Dingle drove and scored off the glass, increasing Lander's lead to 62-47 with six minutes to go.
The Bearcat advantage grew back to 20 when Tate swished a 3 from the left wing, making it 71-51 at the 4:19 mark. Tate added two free throws for a 73-53 lead with 2:20 left.
After Haskins hit a 3 for Wingate, Purdie got those points back when he was fouled behind the arc and capped his perfect night from the line by swishing all three free throws to make it 76-56 with 1:48 to go.