Railsplitters earn gritty 79-68 win over Lenoir-Rhyne
HARROGATE, Tenn. — A second-half surge helped the Railsplitters move into sole possession of second place in the South Atlantic Conference standings and claim their 30th consecutive regular-season home victory with a 79-68 triumph over Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday at Tex Turner Arena.
After struggling offensively in the opening half and holding just a two-point cushion at the break, Lincoln Memorial (12-4, 7-2 SAC) shot a sizzling 52 percent in the second half and authored 10-0 and 12-2 runs to snap the Bears’ (13-4, 6-3 SAC) five-game winning streak.
The win was Lincoln Memorial’s 18th straight against Lenoir-Rhyne, which has not beaten the Railsplitters since February 2009.
After posting the first 20-point performance of his career in Wednesday’s win at Mars Hill, Kamaran Calhoun continued to hold down the fort for the Railsplitters in the absence of leading scorer Cornelius Taylor. Calhoun led the way for Lincoln Memorial with a game-high 21 points to go along with nine rebounds while going 13-for-16 at the free-throw line.
Courvoisier McCauley hit double figures for the second consecutive game, scoring 15 points in 31 minutes off the bench. Anthony Brown added 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Julius Brown played a big role off the bench as well with 11 points in just 21 minutes.
Lincoln Memorial took care of business on the defensive end of the court as well, making life difficult for the Bears from start to finish. L-R finished shooting just 38 percent, including a dreadful 9-for-31 effort from three.
The Railsplitters held leading scorers Cory Thomas and Djibril Diallo mostly in check and below their season scoring averages. Thomas paced the Bears with 14 points, while Diallo was limited to 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting. R.J. Gunn was the only other Bear in double figures with 10 points.
Both teams started slow out of the gate, but a jumper and 3-pointer from Julius Brown sparked an early 7-0 run that put the Railsplitters in the lead 14-6 at the 12:42 mark.
The Bears dominated the next passage of play, though, rattling off a 15-4 flurry to jump in front 21-18 with 6:23 left in the half.
Lincoln Memorial responded after that as an Anthony Brown three kicked off another 7-0 scoring binge that gave the Railsplitters a 27-24 edge with less than two minutes left on the clock.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Calhoun ultimately served as the difference at the half as the Railsplitters took a narrow 30-28 lead into the locker room.
Lincoln Memorial took control of the game early in the second half.
After a pair of free throws gave L-R a 37-36 lead, the Railsplitters caught fire and ripped off 10 unanswered points. The run was powered by a jumper and three by Cameron Henry, who had eight points in the game, to take a 46-37 lead at the 14-minute mark.
A brief run by the Bears made it a four-point game on two separate occasions over the next stretch, but a jumper by Julius Brown and a three by McCauley pushed the lead back to nine.
Lenoir-Rhyne made its final push after that as back-to-back threes closed the gap to 55-52 with just under eight minutes to go. However, the Railsplitters allowed just two made field goals over the next five minutes, while McCauley, Julius Brown and Rhondi Hackett each buried threes to extend the lead to 71-56 with two minutes to go.
The lead ballooned to as many as 17 down the stretch before the Bears closed out the game with a 10-4 run to chop the final margin to 11.
– Despite being outsized in the inside, the Railsplitters produced a 41-32 advantage on the backboards. L-R managed just nine offensive boards. No Lenoir-Rhyne player had more than six rebounds.
– Lincoln Memorial finished shooting 46 percentage from the field and 43 percent from three. They did, however, miss 11 free throws on 35 attempts.
– With their win over Lenoir-Rhyne and losses by Catawba and Wingate, the Railsplitters moved into second place by themselves in the SAC standings. Queens sits two games ahead of LMU at 9-0.
The Railsplitters are back home on Wednesday to face the red-hot Tusculum Pioneers, who have won four straight games. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. inside of Tex Turner Arena.