Ashleigh Zandi, Lea Saunders and Briana Wade keyed a trio of big scoring runs as Lander built a 25-point lead and held off Peach Belt Conference rival UNC Pembroke 63-51 Wednesday night at Horne Arena.
The Lady Bearcats, who won 77-68 at Pembroke earlier this season, improved to 6-8 overall and 3-4 in the PBC. The Braves fell to 8-8 overall, 2-5 in the conference.
Lander had a 48-23 lead with 16:34 left in the game before Pembroke cut that 25-point deficit to 10 on two occasions late in the contest.
Zandi led Lander with 16 points, Precious Elkins scored 15 points, and Saunders added 12 points.
Aarika Judge added nine points, eight assists and four steals for the Lady Bearcats, Wade also scored nine points, and Jade Forest led Lander with eight rebounds.
Taylor Gallentine paced Pembroke with 15 points, Amelia Partin scored 12 points, and Kierra Haney was the game's top rebounder with 11.
"We just swept a pretty good club," Lander head coach Kevin Pederson said. "A game like this is huge for us. We've got to find a way to get into that top four (in the PBC's East Division) to get into the tournament."
Lander made 23 of 65 shots from the floor (35 percent), six of nine free throws (67 percent) and 11 of 36 from 3-point range (31 percent).
Pembroke hit 17 of 48 shots (35 percent), 13 of 18 free throws (72 percent) and four of 12 from behind the arc (33 percent).
The Lady Bearcats had a 39-38 edge on the boards and committed 11 turnovers to Pembroke's 18.
Four minutes into the game, the Lady Bearcats were holding a slim 7-6 lead. Then Zandi fueled a 13-4 run with a pair of 3s and another basket, and Judge capped the run with a 3 to give Lander a 20-10 advantage with 10 minutes left.
Pembroke rallied within 20-17 on Partin's 3 and baskets by Jazmine Kemp and Chandrica Fuller to close within 20-17 with 7:28 to go. But Zandi answered with her third trey of the half to make it 23-17 at the 5:30 mark.
After the Braves closed within 23-20 on Gallentine's free throw with 4:20 to go, Saunders carried Lander the rest of the half. She helped the Lady Bearcats close the half with a 13-0 run, hitting three 3s and one jumper inside the arc as Lander built a 36-20 halftime lead.
The Lady Bearcats made eight 3-pointers in the first half to just one for Pembroke.
After Kemp opened the second half with a pair of free throws for the Braves, Lander went on another tear, this one being a 12-1 run. Wade scored inside and nailed a 3 on consecutive possessions, Jade Forest made a nice entry pass to Elkins for a wide-open layup, Judge hit a 3, and Saunders found Elkins inside for another basket for a 48-23 lead with 16:34 left. Wade also had a steal and blocked shot during the run.
Gallentine's 3 cut Pembroke's deficit back to 20, 48-28, with 15:13 to go. But Zandi hit a trey to end Lander's three-plus minute scoring drought, making it 51-28 at the 13-minute mark.
Gallentine drove in for a layup, closing the Braves within 53-36 with 10:04 left. But the Lady Bearcats, whose scoring pace had slowed down dramatically, got an Elkins layup off Judge's steal and long pass for a 55-36 advantage at the 8:17 mark.
Partin's long 3 pulled Pembroke within 16 - matching its halftime deficit - at 55-39 with 7:27 to go. After Fuller's free throw cut the deficit to 15, the Braves were trying to pull even closer when Lander's Jamie Shaw blocked a shot inside.
But the Lady Bearcats continued to struggle offensively as their scoreless drought extended past four minutes. Then Gallentine hit a 3 from the top of the key to pull Pembroke within 55-43 with 3:57 left.
Haney's free throws closed the Braves within 55-45 at the 3:29 mark.
Lander's scoreless streak extended past six minutes as Judge missed a 3 from the left corner, but Elkins grabbed the offensive rebound as the Lady Bearcats were able to wind the clock down under two minutes. Wade ended the 6:18 scoring drought with a pair of free throws, extending Lander's lead to 57-45 with 1:59 left.
Partin's steal and layup pulled Pembroke back within 10 with 1:23 to go. But Zandi made two free throws, and Elkins scored Lander's first field goal in over seven minutes to extend the lead to 61-47 inside the one minute mark.