HARROGATE, TN -- The 11th-ranked and top-billed Railsplitters cruised past the Tusculum Pioneers, 82-53, in the the quarterfinals of the 2013 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Championship on Wednesday evening in Tex Turner Arena. With the win, Lincoln Memorial University (23-4) advances to the semifinals of the SAC Championship where they will face fourth-seeded Carson-Newman University, who eked out a 58-54 win over Lenoir-Rhyne, on Saturday, March 9th in Greenville, South Carolina. For the third-straight season, LMU eliminated Tusculum College (6-21) from the SAC Championship.
The game was never in question for Lincoln Memorial, as they rolled out to an early 7-0 advantage and led wire-to-wire to claim the victory. The Pioneers did not reach double-figures until the 8:53 mark of the first half and the Railsplitters canned 18 of their 29 field goal attempts in the first stanza to mount a 42-21 advantage after one frame. The Railsplitters continued their offensive assault in the second period, notching a 48.4% clip over the final 20 minutes of action to cap an 82-53 victory. LMU never led by less than 16 in the second half and amassed as large as a 33-point advantage before bringing home a 29-point triumph.
The Railsplitters finished with a 55.0% mark from the field, draining 33 of their 60 shot attempts for the game, while limiting the Pioneers to only a 33.3% effort from the floor. Five different players scored at least nine points in the game with Cam Carden spearheading the offensive attack with 17 points on a seven-for-11 clip for the contest. Carden also reigned in five rebounds and three assists to fill out his stat sheet for the contest. Jake Troyli poured in 16 points to go along with six rebounds and a block in 23 minutes of action, while Vincent Bailey collected 12 points and eight rebounds.
Lorenza Ross and Chance Jones bolstered the LMU back court with nine points apiece and combined for seven rebounds and eight assists to pace the Railsplitters to 14 assists for the game. Dustin Craig chimed in with eight points and led Lincoln Memorial to a commanding 41-28 advantage on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds. Craig also left his mark on the game defensively with two blocks and a steal in 21 minutes of work.
Lincoln Memorial created 11 turnovers in the contest which were made into 21 points, while also dominating the paint with a 44-24 disparity inside the square. LMU's second unit outscored the Pioneers' bench, 19-14, in the game. Along with Craig, Tim Pierce and Tristan Hicks lifted that group with a combined 10 points.
Addison Flynn was the lone Pioneer to cross the double-digit scoring plateau, as he paced Tusculum with 11 points despite struggling from the field (5-11). Neal Spinks, Darius Carter and Nick Spinks chipped in with eight points apiece for the Pioneers.
With the quarterfinal win in the books, the Railsplitters direct their attention towards fourth-seeded Carson-Newman, as Lincoln Memorial is set to duel the Eagles on Saturday, March 9th with a spot in the championship game of the 2013 Food Lion SAC Championship on the line. The Railsplitters and Eagles are scheduled to square off in Greenville, South Carolina at 5:30 p.m. in Furman University's Timmons Arena.