No. 1 LMU advances to SAC semifinals with beatdown of Anderson
Published 1:26 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018
HARROGATE, Tenn. — The No. 1 nationally ranked and top-seeded Railsplitters (28-1) advanced to the semifinal round of the South Atlantic Conference Championship with a 90-62 destruction of the eight-seeded Anderson Trojans (10-19) on Wednesday night at Tex Turner Arena.
Lincoln Memorial, who pushed its winning streak to 17 games with the 28-point victory, will face fourth-seeded Wingate in the SAC semifinals at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Timmons Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Bulldogs booked their spot trip to the SAC semis with a 76-75 overtime win over Coker on Wednesday. The Railsplitters are on their way to the SAC semifinals for the ninth consecutive season.
Riding a 22-game home winning streak into Wednesday night’s contest, it didn’t take long for Lincoln Memorial to bury the Trojans in an insurmountable hole.
The Railsplitters started slow at the onset, missing three of their first four shots as Anderson raced out to a 7-2 lead. However, Lincoln Memorial shook out of that funk abruptly with a defensively-fueled 27-4 run that consumed more than nine minutes of game time and put the nation’s No. 1 team in front 29-11 with 7:25 left in the half.
Lincoln Memorial then used another 11-0 run as the half moved to the finish line, extending the lead to 48-17 with 1:18 left. The Railsplitters would carry a 50-19 lead into the half to end the game right then and there for all intents and purposes.
“We really guarded in the first half. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from three but our defense was terrific and that really fueled everything on the offensive end,” said LMU head coach Josh Schertz. “We were able to get stops and rebounds and get out in transition for some easy baskets. We played a really good half of basketball.”
The Railsplitters shot 50 percent from the field in the first half despite a 4-for-18 effort from three. On the other end of the spectrum, they held the Trojans to a dreadful 8-for-30 shooting over that same span to take a 31-point lead into the break.
Lincoln Memorial’s lead shot to as many as 42 points with 10:35 left in regulation. Anderson used an 11-0 run to trim the deficit down to 31 and eventually outscored the Railsplitters 43-40 in total in the second half to cut the final margin to 28.
“We will have to play better than we did in the second half,” Schertz said when looking ahead to Saturday’s SAC semifinal matchup. “At this point you’re just trying to max out, stay committed to the process and make sure you’re doing all the right things. You have to put your best foot forward and try to win the next game. We will have a difficult challenge down in Greenville but we are looking forward to these next two days of preparation.”
Dorian Pinson paced the Railsplitters with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and two assists. Cornelius Taylor added 14 points and four assists, while Trevon Shaw scored 12 points.
With Emanuel Terry drawing two fouls early in the first half, Rhondi Hacket and Kamaran Calhoun were called upon to provide minutes off the bench. Hackett scored a career-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, while Calhoun added seven points in 15 minutes of work. Terry scored six points in just 12 minutes of action.
The Railsplitters finished with a 50 percent clip and a 10-for-32 mark from three. Anderson, meanwhile, shot 37 percent and went 5-of-17 from three.
Gage Ellis and Randall Shaw led the Trojans with 12 points apiece, while Jeremy Bouton and Rakish Taylor chipped in nine points each, as Anderson’s season ended with the loss.
Lincoln Memorial topped Anderson for the 11th consecutive time with the victory. It also marked the Railsplitters’ second win over the Trojans in the SAC tournament and first since beating Anderson in the 2014 SAC Championship title game.
Lincoln Memorial aims to book its sixth consecutive trip to the SAC Championship title game when they face fourth-seeded Wingate on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Greenville. It will mark the sixth postseason meeting between the Railsplitters and Bulldogs and first since the quarterfinals of the 2016 SAC tournament.