No. 2 LMU batters Bears 103-59
Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018
HARROGATE, Tenn. — Behind another routinely virtuoso performance, the No. 2 Railsplitters (19-1, 13-0 SAC) dismantled the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears (8-11, 6-7 SAC) 103-59 on Saturday evening at Tex Turner Arena.
Lincoln Memorial never trailed and led outright for all but six seconds to extend its home winning streak to 18 as well as its South Atlantic Conference winning streak to 27.
The Railsplitters, who entered Saturday’s contest absurdly leading the country in field-goal percentage offense, field-goal percentage defense and scoring margin, put on a master class of basketball, notching their 10th win of the season by at least 30 points.
Lincoln Memorial shot 61 percent from the floor, buried 14 3-pointers and turned the ball over just nine times while holding the visiting Bears to 36 percent shooting, including a dreadful 2-for-15 mark from three-point range.
“I thought it was a terrific effort by our guys,” LMU head coach Josh Schertz said. “Outside of a five-minute stretch at the end of the first half where we lost a little bit of steam, for 35 minutes we defended, executed well offensively and took care of the ball. That was a big point of emphasis for us coming into this week, the possession game. With the talent we have, if we are equal or better in the possession game we are going to be hard to beat.”
The Railsplitters also defeated Lenoir-Rhyne for the 17th consecutive time, extending a dominant stretch that dates back to January 2011.
The win continued an absolutely blistering and mind-numbing run of late for the Railsplitters, who have now won their last four games by margins of 44, 33, 29 and 39.
“Obviously we aren’t going to win every game like this,” Schertz said. “Every game isn’t going to be a 30 or 40 point game. But as long as we continue to work hard and play hard and together, that gives us a great chance to have success moving forward.”
Cornelius Taylor led the Railsplitters with a game-high 23 points on a 5-of-9 effort from three to go along with five assists. Taylor scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half. Dorian Pinson added 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Emanuel Terry chipped in 14 points and six boards.
Lincoln Memorial’s bench also made a solid contribution with some extended minutes, combining for 35 points. Alex Dahling, who is now 7-for-8 from three-point territory in his last two appearances, scored nine, while Deshawn Patterson pitched in eight. Romeao Ferguson and Rhondi Hackett added seven apiece.
“That’s the big key for those guys,” Schertz said. “Our reserves are young and inexperienced so anytime you get them out in the game they settle down. We really like our young guys but they just haven’t played enough to get comfortable, and they are starting to get comfortable. Games like this allow you to play them because there’s not as much game pressure.”
Djibril Diallo led Lenoir-Rhyne with 18 points but he was the only Bear to finish in double figures. Emmanuel Wembi and Darius Simmons were the team’s next-highest scorers with nine points apiece.
The Railsplitters took command right out of the gate, using an early 10-0 run to pull ahead 13-2 after just four minutes of game time. After a pair of free throws from Diallo briefly closed the gap to nine points, Lincoln Memorial churned out another 10-2 flurry highlighted by threes from Pinson and Taylor to extend the lead to 23-6 at the 12:33 mark.
The Railsplitters would push the lead to as many as 24 points in the half, but the Bears scored the last seven points of the frame to trim LMU’s halftime lead to 43-27.
Lincoln Memorial crushed any hope of a comeback early in the second half as a 7-0 spurt capped by a bucket from Pinson pushed the lead back to 52-31 with 16:31 left in regulation.
The Bears would never trail by less than 19 after that, while the Railsplitters methodically extended their lead. A 3-pointer by Dahling made it a 30-point game at 74-44 with 9:30 left, while an old-fashioned three-point play from Ferguson ballooned the lead to 40 at 90-50 with six minutes remaining.
All told, LMU outscored the Bears 60-32 in the second half, recording its sixth 60-point half of the season.
“It was a really good team win,” Schertz added. “For 35 minutes we played about as well as we could on both ends of the floor. When we do that with the talent we have we are pretty hard to handle.”
The Railsplitters hit the road on Wednesday to face the Mars Hill Lions in SAC action. The last time those two teams met, LMU broke the SAC record for points and 3-pointers made in a 156-69 obliteration of the Lions, who are in last place in the SAC with a 3-16 overall record.
With a win, Lincoln Memorial would hit the 20-win mark for the ninth consecutive season.