HARROGATE, TN -- The second-seeded and 17th ranked Railsplitters shot 56 percent from the as they advanced past the Pioneers of Tusculum College, 72-58, into the semi-finals of the 2012 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament. Lincoln Memorial University moves to 25-4 on the season. Tusculum College ends their season with an 11-16 mark.
Kevin Vest led the Pioneers with 19 points on 6-11 shooting from the field. Justin Steigerwald and Nicholas Spinks added ten points apiece to round out the double-digit performances for Tusculum College.
The Railsplitters were led by Desmond Johnson's 19 points and 11 rebounds. Johnson filled out the stat sheet in the contest as he notched two blocks and two steals in 33 minutes.
CJ Wakeley and Lorenza Ross each poured in 15 points on a combined 12-19 shooting from the field.
LMU nearly doubled up the Pioneers in the battle of the boards as they won by a margin of 32-19 while limiting the TC to 44 percent from the field.
The game stayed tight in the opening minutes of play as the Railsplitters held an 8-5 advantage with 17:27 minutes in the half as CJ Wakeley shot out of the gates with five points. By the fifteen minute mark, Wally Jones' trey capped a 6-2 run as the Railsplitters doubled up the Pioneers, 14-7.
With 10:41 left in the half, the Pioneers cut it back to a five point deficit with a layup from Kevin Vest but the Railsplitters quickly pushed it back to 22-14 in the next few possessions.
LMU was holding a 32-23 lead with 3:52 left in the first stanza before opening up an 8-2 run to grab a 40-25 advantage with 53 seconds remaining. Kevin Vest's trey with 28 ticks left cut the score to 40-28 at the break.
A 10-2 run to begin the second half pushed the Railsplitters out to a 50-30 lead with 16:43 on the clock and the game would never be in question for the remainder of the contest. Desmond Johnson scored five of Railsplitters ten in that span to lead the way.
The Railsplitters would never lead by less than double-digits for the rest of the contest as the Pioneers cut it to 64-51 with 5:16 remaining. That was as close as Tusculum got as the Railsplitters pushed their lead back to 19 with just two minutes to play. The Railsplitters rolled to a 72-58 victory.
LMU will now move to Hickory, North Carolina where they will look to capture their second consecutive Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship. Play will continue on Saturday, March 3rd at Catawba Valley Community College. The Railsplitters will take on Wingate University, who advanced past Carson-Newman College, at 2:30 p.m.