The Lander Bearcats closed a 12-point second half deficit to a single point late, but could not complete the comeback as they fell to Peach Belt Conference rival Flagler College 62-59 Saturday afternoon at Horne Arena.
Lander fell to 6-10 overall and 1-8 in the PBC. The Saints improved to 9-8 overall and 5-5 in the league.
Jareal Smith paced the Bearcats with 15 points, Darius Carrier posted a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, Mario Pendarvis scored 11 points, and David Pruett added 10 points, all in the second half. Jareal Smith paced Lander with eight assists.
Richard Brown led Flagler with 15 points, Ante Gospic posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Adam Jones had 13 points on six of seven shooting from the floor as well as eight rebounds and seven blocked shots. Matt Clark added 10 points.
Lander made 22 of 67 shots from the floor (33 percent), 12 of 20 free throws (60 percent) and three of 14 from 3-point range (21 percent).
The Saints hit 24 of 56 shots (43 percent), only 11 of 26 free throws (42 percent) and three of 13 from behind the arc (23 percent).
Lander out-rebounded Flagler 51-39.
The first half was close as neither team had more than a four-point lead. Brown's three-point play gave Flagler at 22-18 lead with 1:26 until halftime. Jareal Smith scored at the 1:12 mark to pull Lander within two, and the Saints maintained its 22-20 lead into halftime.
The game was tied at 22, 24 and 26 early in the second half. But Flagler went on a run spurred by Clark's 3 that gave the Saints a 30-26 advantage with 16:45 left in the game.
After Darius Carrier scored for Lander, Brown hit two free throws and Jones scored to give Flagler its largest lead of the game to that point at 34-28 with 15 minutes left.
Jareal Smith's three-point play pulled the Bearcats within 34-33 at the 14:24 mark.
Flagler extended its lead to 43-35 with 11:49 to go on a Jones layup.
The Saints took their first double digit lead at 47-37 when Brown scored with 10:52 left, and he scored again on Flagler's next possession to extend the advantage to its largest of the game at 12.
Lander got back within single digits when Pruett hit a pair of free throws to cut its deficit to 49-41 with 8:31 left.
The Bearcats pulled closer with Pruett at the free-throw line again, where he made the first two of three free throws with 6:41 left that made it 51-43. And after he missed the third attempt, Lander's Dermaine Smith got an offensive rebound and Chidozie Omile hit a 3 to close the deficit to 51-46.
Jones answered for Flagler, but Jareal Smith drove in for a basket then passed to Dermaine Smith for a dunk as the Bearcats were within 53-50 with 5:16 to go, capping a 9-2 run.
Clark's 3 extended Flagler's lead to 56-50 and Gospic's free throw upped the margin to seven.
But Dermaine Smith made a layup and Pruett's first 3 of the game pulled the Bearcats within 57-55 with 3:09 to go.
Jones scored on a reverse layup to give the Saints a 59-55 lead at the 2:21 mark. But Pruett buried his second consecutive 3 to pull Lander within 59-58 with 2:10 left.
The Bearcats had a chance to take the lead after Flagler missed a free throw. Pruett took a 3 from the top of the key but missed. Omile saved the offensive rebound and Jareal Smith drove inside, but his shot was blocked.
After Flagler added a free throw for a 60-58 lead, Lander had another opportunity. Jareal Smith took advantage, getting fouled and drilling a free throw to close the gap to one. But he missed the second and the Saints rebounded.
Flagler's Brown hit two free throws, extending the lead to 62-59 with 26 seconds left. The Bearcats had chances to tie but missed 3-point attempts as the clock expired.