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LMU, Queens win

Four teams remained March 11 in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate. The semi-final rounds looked to be very interesting as UNC Pembroke was set to battle Queens and the hosting LMU Railsplitters tipped off against Clayton State during the second game.

After an initial feeling out period, game one began with Mike Davis hitting a three that got the Royals on track. Pembroke got on track with Brandon Watt and narrowed the deficit to three points as the clock was approaching the 11 minute mark. Nigel Grant stayed busy under the rim while the Braves defense got some key stops. Davis’ three point shooting gave Queens the boost needed to stay out front. Watts hit a three and Todd Withers countered with one for the Royals. At the half the Braves enjoyed a five point advantage at 30-25 but for Braves fans it did not feel safe.

After the break, it seemed like each time the Braves were ready to take the lead Withers and Mike Davis hit a shot that took away the momentum. The Braves gave a great effort trying to stay with the Royals but in the end Queens punched their ticket to the Southeast Regional finals March 13. The final score was 75-63. Leading Queens in scoring was Alexander and Davis both with 18. Leading the Braves was Watt with a 22 point effort.

With one finalist already moved into the championship game Tuesday all that was left was to see if LMU could punch their ticket into the final. Standing in their way was a Clayton State team that knocked off Carson Neman to get in round two. With the crowd still filing in Tex Turner Arena the ball was thrown up in the air to get the game started.

LMU raced off behind Dorian Pinson to a 12-3 lead. Just seconds later the score was 17-3 after another fast LMU run which forced a time out by the Lakers. Trevon Shaw kept the scoreboard moving and LMU’s effort after loose balls helped them move out to 21-6. Emanuel Terry made his presence felt with a dunk followed by another athletic move that wowed the crowd as he literally jumped up and threw one down through the rim from the middle of the paint. The ‘Splitters were now enjoying a 31-16 advantage and were on fire as a team. Their unselfish play allowed them to pull even farther away as Shaw was fed the ball and in return he hit LMU’s sixth, seventh, eight and ninth three. At the half, LMU led 56-25.

Compared to the first half, LMU started slower but were still able to move the scoreboard. Terry did the work down in the paint and with 11:52 left the score was 75-37. The ‘Splitters struck again with two threes and with the score 81-48 with 6:49 remaining the crowd started leaving. LMU finished the game off strong winning 87-61. Shaw led LMU with 26 points and Terry had 20 points with 13 boards. Pinson’s fast start helped him to score 19 and Cornelius Taylor netted 14. Not to be overlooked was Dontez Bennamon’s 16 point effort for Clayton State. Jaylen Taylor also had a great night for State as he had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

After the game LMU Head Coach Josh Schertz was asked about how he will prepare his team for yet another meeting with Queens, “Honestly, we know their sets and they know ours. We have lots of respect for them and they have a chance to be national champs too and it’s a shame only one of us will go to the Elite Eight.”

The Railsplitters will now battle Queens for the fourth time this season with the Elite Eight trip on the line. The game is scheduled for March 13 at 7 p.m. in Tex Turner Arena.