Lander forward Mike Lee (12) is fouled as he goes up for a layup Monday night against UNC Pembroke.
(JORDAN ANDERS | INDEX-JOURNAL)
A weary-eyed Jeff Burkhamer didn't try to conceal his frustration and disappointment after his team's 83-72 loss Monday night against UNC Pembroke.
After all, the game's finish was another chapter in a book the Lander University men's basketball coach is desperate to rewrite.
Trailing the Braves 71-70 with 3:24 left, the Bearcats suddenly went cold from the floor and allowed Pembroke to hit clutch shots late in the game as they were outscored 13-2 en route to falling to 0-2 in Peach Belt Conference play.
It was yet another disappointing late-game meltdown for Lander (5-4 overall, 0-2 PBC). Dec. 7 against Georgia Regents, the Bearcats trailed 65-62 with 3:07 to play before allowing the Jaguars to pull away and win by eight points.
"We've got to find a way to win games against good teams like that," a dejected Burkhamer said. "We've been in two conference games against two of the better teams in the league, and we've been right there with them until the final couple of minutes of the game. We have to find a way to win one of those, so that we can learn how to win one of them. Whether it be a big play offensively, a big rebound or a big defensive stop, we've got to find a way to break through and win one of those games."
Lander hung with the Braves (9-1, 1-1) all night, shooting 48 percent in the first half to build a lead as large as 11 points. Pembroke started the second half hot and took the lead, but Lander never trailed by more than five and cut the deficit to one with a jumper by Ricardo Martin.
But after that, the lid closed on the Lander basket, as the Bearcats had multiple opportunities to cut into the lead, but missed their next nine shots, including four that came on second-chance opportunities. The only basket the Bearcats made in the final 3:24 was a meaningless layup by Michael Panaggio with five seconds remaining, when the game was already out of reach.
"You've got to make layups and you've got to make putbacks," Burkhamer said. "We missed 10 or 12
of those that could have changed the game, or at least could have changed the flow of the game."
FOR MORE OF THE STORY READ THE INDEX JOURNAL