Aarika Judge led four Lander double-figure scorers with 20 points, pacing the Lady Bearcats to their first victory of the season, 76-62, over rival Erskine College Tuesday night at Horne Arena.
Lander improved to 1-3 on the season as head coach Kevin Pederson won his first head-to-head meeting against his former assistant Russ Gregg, whose Lady Fleet team fell to 0-7.
Judge led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Precious Elkins added 16 points and shared game-high honors with nine rebounds for the Lady Bearcats, Lea Saunders had 14 points and five assists, and Jamie Shaw had a very impressive first career start including 13 points.
Shaw, a senior four-year starter of the Lander soccer team, also had nine rebounds and four steals. It was her first start since recently joining the basketball team once soccer season ended. She signed with Division I East Carolina to play basketball but was red-shirted and transferred to Lander to play soccer.
Erskine fought back from a 16 point first-half deficit and cut it to one early in the second half before the Lady Bearcats finished the game on a 34-21 run.
Andrienne Bannerman led the Lady Fleet with 18 points, Tara Potter scored 13 points, Tori Whittenberg added 11 points, Jana Dixon had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Haleigh Spaulding led Erskine with six assists.
Lander made 27 of 70 shots from the floor (39 percent), 13 of 16 free throws (81 percent), and nine of 33 from 3-point range (27 percent).
Erskine hit 21 of 47 shots (45 percent), 15 of 21 free throws (71 percent), and five of 17 from behind the arc (29 percent).
The Lady Bearcats had a 44-29 edge on the boards while forcing 28 Erskine turnovers while committing 22.
Lander led 40-32 at halftime and increased its lead to 10 on a reverse layup by Jade Forest on the opening possession of the second half.
But Erskine rallied with nine unanswered points to pull within a possession for the first time in the game. Potter and Bannerman scored inside, Whittenberg hit a 3 from the right wing, and Bannerman made a jumper to pull the Lady Fleet within 42-41 with 16:56 left. They had trailed by as many as 16 in the first half.
Judge hit a pair of free throws to end Erskine's scoring run and start a streak of 12 unanswered Lady Bearcat points. Shaw swished a long jumper and Judge made a 3 to give the Lady Bearcats a 49-41 advantage with 14:23 to go.
The run continued as Judge nailed a 3 from the top of the key to give Lander its largest lead of the second half at 52-41 at the 13-minute mark. Ashleigh Zandi added a pair of free throws to cap the 12-0 run.
Bannerman made one of two free throws to end a six-plus minute scoring drought for the Fleet. But Elkins hit a pair of free throws and Saunders got a steal and layup, matching Lander's largest lead of the game at 16 points, 58-42, at the 10-minute mark.
Erskine's first field goal in more than seven minutes – a 3 by Bannerman – cut it to 58-45 with 9:47 to go. The Lady Fleet was back within single digits, 58-49, on two free throws apiece by Sha'Niqua Whitley and Jana Dixon
But Shaw scored three times as Lander rebuilt its lead to 66-51 with 6:25 to go.
Judge hit a long 3 from the left wing as the shot clock was winding down for a 69-53 lead with 5:23 left, and added a reverse layup to make it 71-55
Saunders hit her fourth 3 of the game, giving the Lady Bearcats their largest lead of the game at 17 points, 74-57, with 2:22 to go.
Ariel Parker set the tone for the early part of the first half when she tied up an Erskine ball handler to force a turnover, leading to a game-opening basket by Forest. Shaw made a layup off a steal and Elkins drove to the basket for a layup, making it 6-0 just one minute into the game.
After Whittenberg hit a 3 for Erskine, Shaw answered with her first career 3, and Briana Wade scored off an offensive rebound to make it 11-3 inside the 17-minute mark.
The Lady Fleet drew within five, 16-11, on Potter's free throw. But Judge and Saunders hit 3s, increasing Lander's lead to 22-13 with 13:52 left.
After Powell's three-point play pulled Erskine within 22-16, the Lady Bearcats answered with seven straight points for a 29-16 lead at the 11-minute mark on Judge's fast-break layup, two Elkins free throws, and a Saunders 3.
After the Fleet's Potter hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, Elkins answered with a hustle offensive rebound and basket followed by another Saunders 3 off an inbounds pass from Shaw to extend Lander's lead to 34-18 with seven minutes left.
After Elkins scored for a 36-20 lead, Erskine ran off 10 unanswered points to get back into the game. Spaulding started the run with a basket, Powell made a free throw, Whittenberg nailed a 3, and Dixon and Bannerman scored off turnovers. Bannerman's basket pulled the Fleet within 36-30 inside the three-minute mark.
Elkins ended Erskine's run with a basket in the paint, and Zandi made a layup off a nice pass from Judge in the final seconds of the first half to give Lander a 40-32 lead at the break.