Four Lander players finished in double figures and forward Deon Berrien scored a career-high 25 points Wednesday as Lander defeated Francis Marion 90-79 for its second consecutive Peach Belt Conference win.
“I thought we played unselfish basketball against a really talented team,” first-year Lander coach Omar Wattad said. “We really sat down and guarded. When we play unselfish and don’t get rattled, this team can be dynamite.”
After both teams traded blows early and were tied at 26-26 midway through the first half, Lander scored the game’s next 12 points and used a 25-6 run to gain all the separation it needed.
The Bearcats led 51-35 at halftime and scored 90 points for the second consecutive game.
“I thought we were able to blow the game up midway through that first half by sitting down and guarding for large spurts and then running in transition,” Wattad said. “It felt like they were sitting on 26 points for an hour.”
Wattad said the Bearcats’ rotation is finally starting to take shape as the team begins conference play.
Lander guard Sidney Robinson, who returned to the rotation after missing the last three games, scored 15 points off the bench. Jared Sherfield, one of the team’s top recruits, also returned to action for the first time since an exhibition game against UT-Chattanooga.
“The rotation has been unique, to say the least,” Wattad said. “Sid had been out three games, and Jared Sherfield is one of our best players, and he hasn’t played since November. He’s only had one real practice, but that kid’s a stud and we expect him to get more comfortable as time goes on.
“We’re getting pieces back into the mix and we’re starting to figure it out. We’ve got great depth. If we stay mentally locked in and perform night in and night out, we can be special, but we’ve still got a ways to go to where we want to be.”