ANDERSON, S.C. – Miriam Recante made three free throws with 17 seconds remaining and Lander held on for a 64-61 upset of top-seeded Anderson in the second round of the NCAA Southeast Regional Saturday night at the Abney Center.
Lander, 24-8, will face North Georgia, a 76-53 victor over Wingate in the first semifinal, Monday at 7 p.m. for the Southeast Region championship and a trip to the Elite Eight in Columbus, Ohio.
The two schools from the Peach Belt have split two meetings this season. Anderson finishes its season at 30-3.
Symone Starks led Lander with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. Mylea McKenith added 14 and Amiaya Melvins tallied 11 for the Bearcats. The Trojans were led by Alexy Mollenhauer with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. She was followed by Madison Baggett with 14, Ace Easter with 13, and Erika Martin with 10. Baggett was 4-for-9 from behind the arc and also had 10 assists.
Lander forced 17 turnovers, 12 in the second half, and scored 15 points off of the Anderson turnovers. The Bearcats shot 40 percent from the field and made 10-of-16 free throw attempts.
Anderson dominated the glass, 48-34. Lander was plus-14 in points in the paint and plus 10 in bench scoring.
Tied at 54, Lander got consecutive baskets from Melvins and Starks to take a 58-54 lead with 5:35 remaining. A 3-point basket by Baggett with 5:06 to play made it 58-57 in favor of Lander. After a basket by Starks, Anderson got a 3-pointer from Baggett to tie the game at 60 with 2:45 left. Martin made one of two free throws to give Anderson its final lead of the game - 60-61 - with 1:17 to play.
Anderson had a chance to extend its lead, but a traveling violation under the basket gave the ball back to Lander with 22.4 left. On the next Bearcat possession, Recante was fouled on a trey attempt and she stepped to the line and buried all three free throws. After a timeout, Anderson put the ball in play but could find nothing. Another timeout with 10.1 to play ended with an offensive foul call on Mollenhauer with 7.8 left. When the ball was put in play, Jessica Harris was fouled immediately by the Trojans and made one free throw for the final margin.
Lander scored on five straight possessions to turn a 52-45 deficit into a 54-52 lead at the 6:29 mark. Two free throws by Easter with 14.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter pushed Anderson's lead to 50-43 with one quarter to play. The Trojans managed to survive a scoring drought late in the second quarter to hang on to a 32-28 at the break.
Both teams shot less than 40 percent from the field in the first half. Anderson extended its' lead to 28-16 before Lander answered with an 8-0 to slice the Anderson lead to 28-24. Ariana Sanders made two of the four baskets during the Bearcat run. After moving out to a 12-point lead four minutes into the second quarter, Anderson missed nine of its next 10 shots.
With the game tied at 16, Anderson got a 3-point basket from Baggett, a short baseline jumper from Easter, and an inside bucket from Martin to take a 23-16 lead with 7:34 left in the second quarter. Both teams went cold late in the first quarter. Anderson missed its last five shots of the period, while Lander missed its last three and had two offensive fouls called on Melvins.
The game was tied four times in the first five minutes with neither team holding more than at two-point lead.