GREENEVILLE, TN -- The 12th-ranked Railsplitters outlasted the Tusculum College Pioneers to take an 83-70 victory in the South Atlantic Conference opener and remain unbeaten on the season on Wednesday evening in Greeneville, Tennesee. The win extends Lincoln Memorial University's winning-streak to five to open the season, as they moved to 5-0 on the year and 1-0 in league play. The loss drops the Pioneers to 1-5 on the season and 0-1 in SAC play.
In a physical battle that saw the two teams combine for 56 fouls with four Pioneers fouling out of the contest, the Railsplitters used a balanced offensive attack to outlast Tusculum en route to victory. Four players notched double-figure scoring for Lincoln Memorial as the squad finished with a 46.2% mark from the field.
Senior Cam Carden (Clearwater, FL) turned in his best performance of the season with a game-high 17 points, adding four rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes of action to his ledger. Carden went 5-12 from the floor with a 3-7 clip from three. Sophomore Lorenza Ross (Savannah, GA) continued his strong play this season with a 16-point effort despite struggling from the field (4-10). Ross also tallied a goose egg in the turnover column.
Wally Jones (Greensboro, NC) was steady in the Railsplitter backcourt tonight with 12 points, four boards, an assist and a steal in 35 minutes of action. Junior Vincent Bailey (Jennings, FL) returned from injury to spark the Railsplitters off the bench with 10 points and five rebounds despite playing only 15 minutes. CJ Wakeley (Alachua, FL) and Curtis McMillion (Fayetteville, NC) added nine points apiece off of the bench to aid the offensive attack for LMU.
Senior Dustin Craig (Knoxville, TN) helped lead the Railsplitters to a 39-33 advantage on the glass with a game-high seven rebounds, while also leading all players with three blocks in the contest. The Railsplitters grabbed nine offensive boards to compile 13 second-chance points and took advantage of 11 Pioneer miscues to tally 15 points.
The Railsplitters stingy defense was at work again in tonight's triumphant effort, as they limited Tusculum to 41.7% shooting from the field marked by a 30.8% effort in the first frame. Neal Spinks paced the Pioneers with 13 points despite a 4-11 effort from the field. Darius Carter notched 12 points, while Devin Call and Addison Flynn tallied 11 points apiece. Keith Jumper headlined the Pioneers' effort on the boards by reigning in six rebounds.
LMU held sway early by running out to a 10-5 advantage thanks to a jumper from Cam Carden with 12:43 left in the opening half. The Pioneers responded with a 10-2 run behind seven points from Neal Spinks over that span to establish a 15-12 lead by the 11 -minute mark. That lead was quickly erased following a pair of free throws from CJ Wakeley and a layup from Vincent Bailey, as the Railsplitters took a 16-15 lead by the nine-minute mark of the half.
The Railsplitters would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the contest, running out to as large as a seven-point advantage in the final stretch of the first 20 minutes of play. The Pioneers closed to within one with a score by Keith Jumper with 2:07 to play, however, the Railsplitters implements a 5-0 rally, capped with a buzzer-beating jumper by Wakeley to go into the break leading 31-25.
Coming out of the locker room, Lincoln Memorial pushed their lead to double-digits with a pair of free throws from Jake Troyli (Largo, FL) with 15:12 remaining in regulation and never led by less than eight down the stretch. The Railsplitters amassed as large as a 14-point advantage on three different occasions.
The Railsplitters look to continue their winning ways this weekend, as they travel to Newberry, South Carolina for a South Atlantic Conference showdown with the Wolves of Newberry College. The Wolves are off to a 3-3 start this season. That game is set to tip at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 2nd.