HARROGATE, Tenn. -- Balanced scoring has been the calling card of Coach Josh Schertz's system since he took over the Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball program before the start of the 2008-09 season, but an individual performance the likes of which hasn't been seen at Tex Turner Arena in six seasons carried the 17th-ranked Railsplitters to victory on Tuesday night, Nov. 24.
Senior guard Gerel Simmons of Accokeek, Md., went 13-of-21 from the field, knocked down four three-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points to lead the Railsplitters (3-1, 1-0 SAC) past the Carson-Newman Eagles (2-3, 0-1 SAC) 98-82 in the South Atlantic Conference opener and the 200th all-time meeting between the two longtime rivals.
"Gerel was great. We couldn't get stops in the second half and we had to make plays," Schertz said. "Gerel just hit a bunch of shots, midrange and threes. As a team I thought we answered the bell when Carson-Newman kept coming back, which is the mark of a good team. Carson-Newman has an excellent team, but we were able to answer. Not only was Gerel fantastic offensively, but I thought he was great on defensively on Charles Clark, who is one of the best guards in our region."
Simmons was one of four starters to hit double figures for the Railsplitters, who tallied their most points against Carson-Newman since February 17, 2007, when they defeated the Eagles 120-118 in overtime. Simmons' brilliant offensive performance was the most prolific by an LMU player since three-time All-SAC forward D'Mario Curry racked up 41 points against Catawba on December 14, 2010.
Jalen Steele (Knoxville, Tenn.) added 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Dorian Pinson (Greenville, S.C.) posted 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in 21 foul-plagued minutes. Luquon Choice (Laurens, S.C.) finished with 10 points, four boards, three assists and two steals. Curtis McMillion (Fayetteville, N.C.) notched eight points and a team-leading 12 rebounds to help the Railsplitters win the battle of the boards 39-36.
The Railsplitters host the Virginia-Wise Cavaliers for a nonconference tilt at 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 28. Carson-Newman doesn't return to action until December 2, when they host Clayton State.
LMU Athletics Photo / Raymond Welch