CHARLOTTE, NC - The 11th-ranked Railsplitters overcame a rough start and senior Vincent Bailey (Jennings, FL) knocked down the eventual game-winning shot with 56 seconds left to escape Queens University with a 72-71 victory in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lincoln Memorial University wins its ninth-straight game to improve to 9-1 in SAC play and 13-1 overall, while the Queens Royals fall to 7-7 overall and 5-5 in the league with the loss.
The Railsplitters complete the regular-season sweep of SAC newcomer Queens with Saturday's victory, building on a narrow 61-56 triumph over the Royals at Tex Turner Arena on November 23. Lincoln Memorial and Queens had never met prior to the 2013-14 season, as the Railsplitters get out to a 2-0 start in the all-time head-to-head series.
Queens opened the game on a 21-9 run, and Josh Clyburn carried that early flurry with eight of the Royals' 21 points over that stretch. The Railsplitters regained their footing after that early blitzkrieg, rolling in a steady stream of buckets to close the gap to 29-26 on a Curtis McMillion (Fayetteville, NC) lay-up at the 4:05 mark of the first frame. Brent Evans and Jarrett Stokes kept LMU at bay with back-to-back jumpers to extend Queens' cushion to 33-26, but the Railsplitters closed on an 8-2 run, capped with two Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) free throws to take a 35-34 deficit into the halftime locker room.
Lincoln Memorial gained its first lead since 51 seconds into the game on a Vincent Bailey lay-up with 18 minutes remaining in regulation. The two teams traded the lead once more before LMU collected the lead once and for all following a Keenan Peterson (College Park, GA) lay-up at the 16:47 mark. A steady flow of free throws and lay-ups helped the Railsplitters saunter out to a 52-44 advantage, and Curtis Webb (Spartanburg, SC) drained a three-pointer with just over 11 minutes showing on the clock to push that advantage to nine.
The Royals, once again, responded, rolling off an 8-2 run in less than three minutes to clip the LMU lead back to 57-56. Webb halted that run and stopped the bleeding with a three and a lay-up in back-to-back possessions to give LMU some breathing room at 62-56 with 7:32 on the clock.
The Railsplitters held onto a two-possession lead for the ensuing passage of play until the Royals logged an 8-2 run from the 4:03 mark until the 1:26 clip, capped with a Josh Clyburn lay-up to give Queens a 71-70 lead. Lincoln Memorial did not trail for long, as Bailey collected a missed three-pointer on the offensive end and knocked down the put back to propel LMU back in front 72-71 with only 56 ticks remaining. Over that final stretch, LMU survived three missed shots by Queens, including a last-second potential game-winning shot attempt from Jarrett Stokes. However, Stokes' attempt went begging as LMU claimed a one-point victory - its narrowest of the season - in Queens' Curry Arena.
The Railsplitters overcame their third-worst shooting performance of the season, as they went 24-for-56 from the field for a 42.9 percent mark. LMU finished 4-for-12 from long range and 20-for-30 at the charity stripe, while collecting a 40-39 advantage on the boards.
Senior Chance Jones went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line on his way to netting a team-leading 17 points. Jones added two rebounds and two assists to his stat ledger. Redshirt-freshman Curtis Webb recorded a career-high 15 points - 10 in the second half - and narrowly missed out on a double-double with eight rebounds and two assists in 23 productive minutes off the bench. Vincent Bailey's streak of four-straight games with 20 points or more came to an end, but the senior forward did contribute 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting and seven rebounds in 28 foul-plagued minutes. Lorenza Ross (Savannah, GA) added 12 points despite a cold-shooting night (6-for-13) while dishing out a team-high three assists.
Josh Clyburn and Jarrett Stokes carried the Queens' attack with 22 and 20 points respectively, as that duo launched 30 of the team's 53 shots in the contest. Clyburn went 6-for-12 from the field but accumulated his point total with a 10-for-11 clip at the charity stripe while adding a game-high 12 rebounds. Nkosi Ali and Brent Evans chipped in with 10 points apiece, and Joby Glymph posted seven points, five rebounds and seven assists before fouling out after 28 minutes of action.
The Railsplitters and Royals were dead even in the paint, as both teams accounted for 34 of their points inside the square. LMU converted 16 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points including Bailey's eventual game-winner with under a minute to play. Behind Curtis Webb's 15-point outburst, the Railsplitters' bench outscored the Royals 21-2.
Lincoln Memorial returns to Tex Turner Arena on Wednesday, January 22 for an 8 p.m. South Atlantic Conference bout to square off against the Mars Hill University Lions. The Railsplitters are aiming to sweep the season series against the Lions after topping Mars Hill in North Carolina, 110-71, on November 20 in the SAC opener.