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Offensive struggles doom No. 10 Railsplitters, fall 73-63 At Catawba

SALISBURY, NC -- The 10th-ranked Railsplitters held a 31-30 halftime lead but the Catawba College Indians used a second-half surge to upend LMU, 73-63, in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon in Salisbury, North Carolina. With the loss, Lincoln Memorial University (15-3, 8-2 SAC) fell for the first time since January 12th. With the win, Catawba (6-12, 3-7 SAC) snapped a four-game losing skid to Lincoln Memorial dating back to December 14, 2010.

After facing a 31-30 deficit at the conclusion of the first half, Catawba opened the second frame with a bucket by Tyrece Little to regain the lead. The Indians would never trail for the remainder of the contest, breaking away late with a nine-for-ten effort from the charity stripe in the final 1:29 to pull out a 73-63 victory over the Railsplitters.

The 'Splitters continued to struggle on the offensive end of the court, as they capped the game with a 40.4% effort from the field, marked by a 10-28 effort in the second stanza. The back court was a high point of the Railsplitters' attack in the contest with the trio of Lorenza Ross, Tim Pierce and Chance Jones combining for 36 of the 63 points. Ross poured in 18 points while dishing out three assists and grabbing four rebounds without a turnover to his credit in 37 minutes of action. Turnovers plagued the Railsplitters on the afternoon as they committed 19 blunders with 13 coming in the first half. Junior Chance Jones tallied 15 points in only 22 minutes on the court for the Railsplitters to lead the team to a 21-0 advantage over the Indians in bench production. Tim Pierce added 13 points with a three-for-four effort from long range.

The inside-duo of Vincent Bailey and Jake Troyli was limited to only six combined points and 10 rebounds, as Bailey recorded all six of those points and reigned in six boards. Troyli finished scoreless for the first time all season and notched four rebounds. Dustin Craig added six points and six rebounds off the bench to help lead the 'Splitters to a 39-32 advantage on the glass.

Catawba was led almost exclusively by the three-headed attack of Elon Edwards, Tyrece Little and Lee Martin, as that trio combined to pour in 61 of the Indians' 73 points. Edwards was the story of the afternoon for the Indians with a game-high 27 points compiled on an 11-18 effort from the field while playing all 40 minutes. Little was nearly as effective in the contest with 21 points to go along with nine rebounds in 39 minutes on the floor. Lee Martin capped that group's stellar performance with 13 points and matched Little's game-high effort on the boards with nine rebounds.

The Indians finished with a 47.5% effort from the floor, highlighted by a 14-28 mark in the second half en route to obtaining the victory. Catawba finished the game with only six turnovers, as they used the Railsplitters' 19 turnovers to capitalize with 22 points.

Catawba came out firing early in the first half by opening up a 6-0 lead following a jumper by Tyrece Little at the 17:13 mark of the first frame. Tim Pierce put LMU on the board with a three-pointer in the next possession, however, Vismantas Marijosius and Little drained back-to-back jumpers to push the Indians out to a 10-3 lead with 15:04 on the clock. The Railsplitters responded with a 5-0 rally to cut it back to a two-point deficit and went on to knot the game at 16-16 with a three-ball from Tim Pierce at the 9:50 mark. Following a Lee Martin jumper, Lincoln Memorial used consecutive threes by Pierce and Lorenza Ross to storm into the lead at 22-18 with 8:01 on the clock.

After nearly a three-minute scoring drought for both teams, the Railsplitters and Indians traded punches before Elon Edwards drained a layup to tie the game at 24-24 with 3:39 to play. Catawba held sway over the next minutes, running back out to a four-point lead on a layup by Marijosius with 2:22 left in the frame. Facing a 30-26 deficit, Lincoln Memorial closed the final 1:30 on a 5-0 run, capped by Lorenza Ross' buzzer-beating three to go into the half leading 31-30.

The Indians came out of the break with back-to-back jumpers from Tyrece Little to regain the lead at 34-31 with 18:14 left in regulation. From that juncture, LMU would push to within one point on three occasions, with the final meeting coming after a layup by Dustin Craig made it a 39-38 game with 14:36 on the clock. Following a jumper by Little and a free throw by Dustin Craig, LMU trailed 41-39 with 13:53 to play before the Indians seized command with an 8-0 run over the ensuing 4:22. Martin capped that run with a jumper at the 9:31 mark to give the Indians a 51-41 lead.

The Railsplitters were able to push within five on two different occasions, however, by the 5:12 mark of regulation, Reggie Perkins pushed Catawba back out to a 60-51 advantage with a three-point basket. LMU answered that deficit with a three-pointer by Chance Jones and a free throw by Craig to move back to within five at 60-55 with 3:11 remaining. After a Tyrece Little jumper increased the Indians lead to seven with 2:51 to play, LMU countered with a 7-2 run, concluded with a three-ball by Lorenza Ross with 1:29 left in regulation, to drive within two at 64-62.

The Railsplitters would be unable to trek any closer down the stretch, as they only mustered one point over the final minute and a half, while the Indians went nine-for-ten over that same span to ice the game.

Lincoln Memorial looks to rebound this upcoming week with a pair of South Atlantic Conference contests within the friendly confines of Tex Turner Arena. The Railsplitters play host to Mars Hill on Wednesday, February 6th before welcoming Newberry to town on Saturday, February 9th. Both of those games are slated to tip at 8 pm in Harrogate, Tennessee.

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