LMU Railsplitters advance to Final Four with 74-61 win over Chico State
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Redshirt-senior guard Luquon Choice (pictured) scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as the Railsplitters used a late 15-1 run to defeat the Chico State Wildcats 74-61 and advance to the national semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday night, March 22 at Sanford Pentagon.
Lincoln Memorial (30-5) is on to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and will face No. 1 nationally-ranked and No. 2 seed Northwest Missouri State at 9:30 p.m. (ET) on Thursday for the right to play in the national championship game. Chico State ends its season with a 26-8 mark. "They (Chico State) gave us fits with their size and their athleticism," LMU head coach Josh Schertz said. "We played much better in the second half for the most part... ball moved better, bodies moved better and we were able to get some good looks. I thought we guarded them fairly well and competed well on the backboards. "This game kind of epitomizes our season. It's not always a thing of beauty. We have two freshman point guards and we lost our two leading scorers from last year. We've evolved into a tough and gritty group and rode the backs of our defense and rebounding. To get a 13-point win when we were maybe not at our best shows some of the intangible stuff I'm talking about." The Railsplitters and Wildcats were mired in a defensive struggle for the majority of the contest, as neither team shot above 45 percent for the game. The first half was particularly ugly for both sides, as Lincoln Memorial shot 33.3 percent and went 1-for-9 from deep, while Chico State posted a 34.4 percent clip and a 2-of-6 mark from three over that same span. The game featured 15 ties and 16 lead changes, but the Railsplitters eventually broke through and pulled away in the second half. Lincoln Memorial went 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) from the field over the final 20 minutes while holding the Wildcats to 12-for-35 (34.3 percent) shooting. Choice's individual performance was a microcosm of the Railsplitters' game as a whole. The All-American had just five points on 2-of-11 shooting in the first half, but went 5-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three to score 17 points in the second half. He finished with a game-high 22 points to go along with five rebounds. "Second half I just had to let it come to me," Choice said. "In the first half, I was kind of forcing bad shots so I just had to let the game come to me and I started making shots." Paul Woodson added 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds to notch just his second double-double of the season. The redshirt-senior sparked the Railsplitters early in the second stanza, scoring the Railsplitters' first seven points of the half. "I was just playing within myself and playing within our offense," Woodson said. "We have a good motion offense so it gets me open shots and I felt comfortable taking them and I was making them." Emanuel Terry and Chris Perry both battled foul trouble and combined to play only 40 minutes, but that duo made an impact on the outcome. Perry had 10 points and eight rebounds while drawing numerous fouls on Chico State's low-post threats Marvin Timothy and Justin Briggs. Terry contributed eight points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. Chico State was paced by Robert Duncan's 18 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Isaiah Ellis had 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting to go along with a team-leading 10 rebounds. Corey Silverstrom was the only other Wildcat player to finish in double figures with 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting. The win moved Lincoln Memorial to 20-1 in its last 21 games, and also gave the Railsplitters their third consecutive 30-win season. Prior to this stretch, the LMU men's basketball program had just one 30-win season in its history -- the 1976-77 campaign.
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