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Lady Railsplitters break out offensively to defeat Mars Hill, 67-65

HARROGATE, TN -- The Lady Railsplitters notched four double-digit scorers and withstood a late rally to capture a 67-65 victory over the Lions of Mars Hill College in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action on Wednesday evening in Tex Turner Arena. With the win, Lincoln Memorial University (11-10, 4-7 SAC) earned their third win over the past four games, while Mars Hill fell to 4-15 on the season and 1-10 in league play with the loss.

The Lady Railsplitters opened quickly, running out to an early 6-0 advantage following back-to-back three-pointers by Ralissa Nelson to start the game. However, the Lions responded with a 10-0 run, capped by Erica Warren's three-point play at the 16:30 mark of the first half. In the next Lady Railsplitter possession, Elliotte Roberts moved LMU to within one with a three-point play of her own, but the Lions scored four-straight to jump back out on top by five.

Trailing 14-9 at the 14:57 mark, the Lady Railsplitters grabbed control of the contest on the wings of a 13-0 run, with Kelsey Bradford headlining that rally with six points over that stretch. For the remainder of the half, the Lady Railsplitters would never lead by less than four. The Lions cut it to four for the final time at the 2:29 mark with a jumper by Ansley Ricker, however, Eliotte Roberts cashed in with a jumper at the 1:02 mark to send LMU into the break leading 37-31.

The Lions boasted jumpers by Kelsey Espinosa and four points by Armeka Booker to open the second frame to knot the game at 37-37 by the 16:47 mark of regulation. With a jumper by Bradford and another three-point bucket from Ralissa Nelson, Lincoln Memorial re-established a two-possession advantage at 42-37 with 15:41 left on the clock. Over the next two minutes, Mars Hill battled tough, moving to within two with a pair of free throws by Armeka Booker. Once again, the Lady 'Splitters had an answer, as they were catapulted back out to a 50-43 lead with a layup by Kalasia Green and a Ralissa Nelson three-pointer in consecutive possessions.

By the 8:08 mark of the second half, the Lady Railsplitters pressed their lead out to double-digits, grabbing command of the board at 56-45 on a jumper from Bradford. Lincoln Memorial continued to hold sway to the tone of a 63-54 advantage at the 2:10 mark of regulation, however, Ansley Ricker drained a three and Cadence Wilmoth notched a jumper in back-to-back possessions to drive the Lions within four with 1:40 remaining. After a pair of free throws from Bradford, Autumn Ward cut the deficit to only three with a three-point play with only 50 ticks left. In the next Lady Railsplitter possession, Kelsey Bradford drained a running jumper as the shot clock expired to push the lead back to 67-62. Taylor Tate poured in a last second three but it was too little, too late, as LMU held on to take a 67-65 win over the Lions.

The Lady Railsplitters were bolstered by their best all-around offensive performance of the season, as the four-headed attack of Ralissa Nelson, Kelsey Bradford, MaRanda Boddie and Kalasia Green poured in 53 of the team's 67 points. Nelson matched a game-high mark with 17 points headlined by a 4-7 effort from long range. She also reigned in five boards in 30 minutes of action. Bradford capped her night with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block, while Boddie and Green tallied 10 points apiece.

Lincoln Memorial finished the game with a 46.2% mark from the floor, highlighted by a 13-26 effort in the opening frame. However, turnovers plagued the Lady Railsplitters as they committed 25 blunders which were limited to only 13 points for the Lions. LMU took a narrow victory on the boards, edging Mars Hill 39-38. Aside from Bradford, Mariah Richardson led the Lady Railsplitters with six boards.

On the other end, the Lady Railsplitters limited the Lions to only a 39.4% effort from the field. Ansley Ricker matched Nelson's mark with 17 points despite an 8-18 mark. Armeka Booker notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in only 17 minutes of play after sitting nearly all of the first half due to foul trouble. Autumn Ward chimed in with 11 points to round out the double-figure performances for the Lions.

Lincoln Memorial used 18 blunders by Mars Hill to score 20 points to win the battle of points off turnovers, however, they were narrowly outscored in the paint, as the Lions scored 30 to the Lady Railsplitters' 26 points inside the square.

The Lady Railsplitters will be back in action on Saturday, February 9th, as they are poised to host the Wolves of Newberry College in a South Atlantic Conference battle. That night will also serve as the annual Play 4Kay benefit with a night full of promotions geared towards raising funds for the Kay Yow Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at raising breast cancer awareness and seeking out a cure. The Lady Railsplitters and Wolves are set to duke it out at 6 pm in Tex Turner Arena.

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