HARROGATE, Tenn. - In just the 15th all-time meeting between the nation's No. 1 and 2 ranked teams in the history of NCAA Division II men's basketball, the No. 1 Railsplitters stopped No. 2 Queens Royals (26-2, 18-2 SAC) with an 80-65 win on Saturday, Feb 24 at Tex Turner Arena in front of a national television audience. Lincoln Memorial (27-1, 20-0 SAC) led wire-to-wire to cap the regular season by clinching the outright South Atlantic Conference title and the second unbeaten SAC season in league history.
The Railsplitters opened the game with head-spinning 13-2 run and then absorbed multiple runs for the remainder of game with a gritty defensive effort and some timely runs of their own to snap the Royals' 10-game winning streak. The victory gave Lincoln Memorial its sixth straight SAC title and first outright championship since the 2015-16 campaign. It also marked just the second perfect conference season in SAC and program history, following in the footsteps of the 2015-16 team as well. In addition to all that, the Railsplitters extended their SAC-record winning streak to 34 games and their home winning streak to 22. "I thought we played with two things you need in a big game like this," LMU head coach Josh Schertz said. "Everybody is going to play hard with the stakes this high, but we played with an unbelievable amount of toughness and poise. We didn't play very poised at Queens, but I thought we really stayed poised and played with great physicality. First half at their place they knocked us around. This game I thought from the jump we were the more physical, more aggressive team."
Cornelius Taylor paced the Railsplitters with a dazzling 24-point performance to go along with five assists. The sophomore guard scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half to send Lincoln Memorial into the break with a 43-29 lead. Dorian Pinson added 21 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in the final regular-season game of his career at Tex Turner Arena, while Emanuel Terry also had a monster game with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Josh Odem added eight points, 10 boards and five assists, while the team's fourth and final senior Trevon Shaw produced five points and five rebounds on an off-shooting night (2-for-13).
Now the Railsplitters direct their attention to postseason play, which begins on Wednesday, February 28 with the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Championship. The Railsplitters will host Anderson for the first round of the SAC Championship at Tex Turner Arena while the semifinals and final will take place at Furman's Timmons Arena. Looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament, the Railsplitters' win over the Royals all but assured that Lincoln Memorial will serve as the host site of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional for the third time in the past four seasons. They entered Saturday's contest ranked ahead of Queens in the regional rankings and with a win over the Royals already this season.
LMU Women Win
After trailing a very determined but short-handed Queens team for three quarters, the LMU women's basketball team clawed their way back from a 12-point third quarter deficit to force overtime, where they outlasted the Royals 66-58 Saturday afternoon, Feb. 24. The game was nationally televised as the NCAA DII Showcase on ESPN3 along with the men's game, and was also senior day for Shea Coker, Ross Mathis and Karsen Sims. With the win, LMU (17-10, 12-8 SAC) earns the four-seed in the upcoming South Atlantic Conference Tournament and will host a quarterfinal round game vs. Catawba Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. Jordan Brightwell and Emily Griffith led LMU with 13 points apiece, while Griffith led the team with nine rebounds and seven steals. Ross Mathis had 10 points and four assists.
LMU Athletics Photo