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No. 20 Railsplitters escape Brevard with 73-71 Win

BREVARD, NC -- The 20th-ranked Railsplitters staved off a second-half surge by Brevard College and escaped with a 73-71 win over the Tornados in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action on Wednesday evening in Brevard, North Carolina. With the win, Lincoln Memorial University (17-4, 10-3 SAC) rebounded from their loss to Newberry on Saturday and swept the season-series against Brevard, while the Tornados fell to 2-11 in league play and 3-18 overall.

The Railsplitters led by as many as 13 points in the game but were outscored 41-32 in the second half, as they were able to narrowly hold out for a 73-71 win on the road. Much like Saturday's contest against Newberry, the Railsplitters were met by a hot-shooting foe, as the Tornados drained 14 of their 28 three-point attempts to keep the game within reach throughout the closing stretch of regulation.

Lincoln Memorial finished the game with a 26-for-53 mark from the field, good for a 49.1% clip. The Railsplitters saw four players cross the double-digit scoring plateau, headlined by Vincent Bailey's game-high 21 points. Bailey went an unblemished six-for-six from the field and netted nine of his 11 free-throw attempts to accumulate his game-high mark. Wally Jones was also stellar in tonight's contest, compiling 15 points on six-of-nine shooting, highlighted by a three-for-four effort from deep. Jones reigned in five rebounds as well. Jake Troyli struggled from the field, tallying 12 points on five-of-15 shooting, however, he spearheaded a 35-23 advantage on the glass for Lincoln Memorial with a game-high 16 boards to notch a double-double performance. Cam Carden aided that effort on the boards with eight rebounds despite only chiming in with three points. Lorenza Ross poured in 10 points in 36 minutes of action.

The Railsplitters won the turnover battle, edging the Tornados 13-16 in that statistical category. The difference came in the paint, as the combination of Bailey and Troyli paced the Railsplitters to an eye-popping 42-12 disparity on points inside the square. Lincoln Memorial assisted on 10 of their 26 buckets with Carden leading the way in that area with four assists.

Despite a stellar mark from deep, the Tornados only netted 10 of their 28 efforts from inside the three-point arc to finish with a 42.9% clip for the game. Miles Leathers and Dominique Pickett were the story of the contest for Brevard, as those two combined for 37 of Brevard's 71 points. Leathers nearly matched Bailey's game-high figure with 20 points, with 15 coming in the second half, on a five-for-nine effort from long range, while Pickett tallied a three-for-seven mark from the three en route to a 17-point performance. Leathers also led the Tornados with seven rebounds in 37 minutes on the floor. Manzey Miller chimed in with 12 points and headlined a 19-assist effort for Brevard with a game-high eight assists. Alex Moe chipped in 11 points, with more than half of those points coming on a two-for-three mark from three.

The Railsplitters also saw dividends from the free throw line, as they finished 17-for-24 from the charity stripe while the Tornados were held to nearly half of that mark with a nine-for-15 effort on the freebies.

After two minutes and forty-eight seconds of action, the Railsplitters and Tornados met in a 6-6 stalemate following a three-point bucket by Dominique Pickett. The Tornados briefly gained the lead as Gerel Simmons drained another three at the 15:32 mark to put Brevard on top, 9-6. From that juncture, the Railsplitters implemented an 8-0 run, capped with a layup by Dustin Craig, to assume a 14-9 advantage with 12:24 left in the first stanza.

Manzey Miller answered that layup with a bucket in the next Tornado possession, however, the Railsplitters poured in three-straight jumpers to shoot out on top 20-11 as the half neared the midway point. Dominique Pickett cut into the deficit by halting that scoring rally with a three-pointer, yet, the Railsplitters notched a layup by Wally Jones and a flush from Dustin Craig to extend their lead to 10 at the 8:46 mark of the period.

The two teams traded punches over the next several minutes until the Railsplitters moved back out to a 31-21 advantage on Lorenza Ross' jumper with 5:21 left in the half. The Tornados poured in three-pointers by Alex Moe and Miles Leathers in back-to-back possessions to cut into LMU's lead, however, the Railsplitters closed on a 10-3 run to go into the break leading 41-30, their largest lead of the half.

Vincent Bailey notched the first score of the second half to send LMU out to a 43-30 advantage, however, the Tornados chipped away at that lead, cutting it to 45-38 on yet another Miles Leathers' three at the 16-minute mark. LMU's Troyli and Brevard's Miller traded jumpers in consecutive possessions before Lincoln Memorial score four-straight points to drive their lead back out to double-digits at 51-40 with 13:28 left to play.

Once again, the Tornados answered from long range with back-to-back threes from Miles Leathers to bring the score back to 51-46 at the 12:35 mark, however, LMU notched four-straight free throws from Vincent Bailey to counter that attack.

The Railsplitters continued to cling to as much as a nine-point advantage over the ensuing minutes until the Tornados begin to drive back into the game over the final minutes. Bailey put LMU on top 63-55 with a jumper at the 5:30 mark and Brevard answered with a 6-0 run over the next 1:57 to make it 63-61 with only 3:33 left in regulation. The Railsplitters never relinquished the lead but the Tornados drove within one on a three-pointer by Gerel Simmons with 1:18 left on the clock. Cam Carden pushed the lead back to four with his only three-point bucket of the game in the next possession and Chance Jones countered Leathers' one free throw with a pair to give LMU a 73-68 advantage with only 30 ticks left on the clock.

With 22 seconds left, Dominique Pickett was sent to the line and nailed one of his two attempts, which was followed by a Leather's offensive rebound and a jumper to propel the Tornados to within two with only 19 seconds left. The Railsplitters successfully in bounded the ball and Chance Jones was quickly fouled. At the free throw line, Jones uncharacteristically missed both attempts and the Tornados corralled the rebound to garner a last-second attempt to tie or win the game. However, Manzey Miller's three-point effort as time expired clanged off the back iron and let the Railsplitters escape with a 73-71 victory in Brevard, North Carolina.

The Railsplitters will now direct their attention towards the Anderson University Trojans, who are currently tied atop the South Atlantic Conference standings. Lincoln Memorial aims to avenge a heartbreaking 67-66 loss to the Trojans from back on January 12th. That game is slated to tip at 4 p.m. on February 16th in Anderson, South Carolina.

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