DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia women's basketball team came up short in their bid to take down the No. 2 team in the land, falling 65-55 to Lander University Saturday afternoon in Peach Belt Conference action in Memorial Hall.
The Bearcats continues their streak through the league, improving to 17-0 overall on the year and 7-0 in the Peach Belt Conference. The Lady Saints drop back-to-back games for the first time this season, falling to 10-4 overall on the season and 1-2 in the Peach Belt Conference. Lander still trails the all-time series 9-7 with North Georgia, but has now won four straight games and five of their last six over the last four seasons.
The Lady Saints' defense was on display in the opening minutes, holding the Bearcats without a field goal until the 17:45 mark when Shannon McKever broke free and knocked down a layup to give Lander a three-point lead at 5-2.
Following McKever's field goal, North Georgia answered right back with a 7-0 run, sparked by back-to-back three-pointers from Bianca O'Neal to give the Lady Saints their largest lead of the half at 9-5 with 14:22 remaining.
North Georgia held a slight lead until the 11:44 mark of the opening half when Brianna Webb came to life and drained a three-pointer, giving Lander the lead right back at 12-11.
The Bearcats slowly pulled away in the final minutes of the half, extending the lead to nine points at the 1:40 mark on a Brittni Johnson free throw, but Brooke Garmon answered right back and connected on a long ball from the top of the key, cutting the Bearcats' lead to 28-22 heading to intermission.
North Georgia quickly closed the gap to open the second half, using a layup from Tiffany Marlow and a pair of free throws from Lindsey Moss to pull the Lady Saints to within a pair at 35-33 with 15:14 remaining.
Lander responded over the next five minutes, using an 11-4 run to take over again and match their largest lead at nine points as Nardia Robbins found a three-pointer to give the Bearcats a 46-37 edge.
North Georgia never let Lander pull away down the stretch, staying within striking distance but never managing to put enough offense together to overtake the No. 2 team in the country.
The bearcats finally extended the lead to double digits in the final seconds as Mukia Myrick knocked down a pair of free throws with 29 seconds remaining, giving Lander a 62-52 lead as they remained undefeated on the year, sneaking away with a 65-55 victory when the final buzzer sounded.
McKever led all scorers with a game-high 20 points, while adding 15 rebounds for a double-double. She was 8-for-10 from the field and added three blocks to pace the Bearcats, while Webb was the only other Lander player in double figures, finishing with 17 points in 25 minutes of action.
Janyce Ealey led North Georgia with a team-high 17 points and added 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double in the last eight games. Moss tallied a double-double of her own with 13 points and as many rebounds while adding four assists.
North Georgia shot 29-percent from the field, 18-percent from long range, and 71-percent from the charity stripe, while Lander was 34-percent from the floor, 16-percent from behind the arc, and 61-percent from the free throw line.
The Lady Saints will play their second ranked opponent in the last three days on Monday evening, traveling to South Carolina to take on 18th-ranked USC Aiken. Tip-off against the Pacers is set for 5:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center.