ANDERSON, SC -- The 20th-ranked Railsplitters rode a stifling defensive effort and a workman-like effort on the offensive end to a 61-52 victory over the Anderson University Trojans in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon in Anderson, South Carolina. Lincoln Memorial University (18-4, 11-3 SAC) snapped a five-game losing streak to the Trojans with the victory and remained locked in a three-way tie for second in the league standings with Carson-Newman and Anderson. The Trojans fell to 15-7 on the season and 11-3 in the league race with the loss.
Both teams struggled mightily from the floor in the opening half of play with a combined 40 points between the Railsplitters and Trojans. Lincoln Memorial went into the break with a 22-18 advantage and extended that lead to as many as 16 in the second stanza. The Trojans cut the deficit to five in the waning minutes of regulation, however, the Railsplitters capped a wire-to-wire victory at the charity stripe in the final minute of play.
The combination of Jake Troyli and Vincent Bailey paced Lincoln Memorial to a dominating 28-10 advantage over the Trojans in the paint, as those two combined for 26 points in the triumphant effort. Troyli (Largo, FL) led all players in the contest with 16 points on six-of-13 shooting from the field. He also grabbed six rebounds to round out his stat ledger. Bailey (Jennings, FL) nailed five of his six shot attempts to compile 10 points in the game and pitched in on the glass with four rebounds. Wally Jones (Greensboro, NC) also posted a strong outing in the LMU back court with 12 points on four-of-nine shooting.
Cam Carden and Lorenza Ross got in on the act with seven and six points respectively, with Carden matching Troyli's rebound number with six in the contest. Despite only scoring four points, senior Dustin Craig spearheaded a 39-25 margin of victory on the glass with a game-high nine rebounds in only 18 minutes of action.
The Railsplitters also grabbed nine offensive rebounds which accounted for 10 points in the contest. Lincoln Memorial answered a 38.5% shooting effort in the first half by nailing 12 of their 22 shot attempts in the second frame to cap the game with a 45.8% mark from the field.
On the defensive end, Lincoln Memorial limited the Trojans to only a 35.4% mark from the field with a dismal 21.7% effort in the opening half of play. The Railsplitters also forced the Trojans into committing 15 turnovers which led to 10 points.
Chandler Hash paced Anderson with 13 points marked by a three-for-five effort from long range. Denzail Jones and Bo Holston tallied 10 points apiece as the only other players to cross the double-digit scoring plateau for Anderson on the afternoon. The Railsplitters held Anderson to only an eight-for-22 effort from deep in the contest.
The game started slowly on the offensive side for both teams, but LMU took advantage of that pace by riding out to an early 8-0 advantage catapulted by four points apiece from Jake Troyli and Vincent Bailey over that span. The Trojans cut the deficit back to four with a 4-0 run over the next few minutes of play, however, Wally Jones gave the Railsplitters a 12-5 lead with a layup at the 12:06 mark of the half. Over the next seven minutes and nine seconds, the two teams went dormant on the offensive end and combined for only eight points, as the Trojans held a slight advantage over that stretch and drove the score to 14-11 in LMU's favor with a free throw by Bo Holston at the 4:57 mark of the period. The Railsplitters pushed their lead back to six, however, two free throws from Chandler Hash and a three-pointer by DJ McGowan made it 17-16 with 2:02 to play in the first. The two teams traded baskets before Wally Jones closed the half with a three-pointer to send LMU into the br eak leading 22-18.
The Railsplitters opened the first 6:15 of the second half by running out a 14-6 rally to assume their largest lead of the game at 36-24 with only 13:45 left in regulation. Lincoln Memorial continued to build on their lead, driving out to a 45-29 advantage on a pair of free throws from Chance Jones at the 11:07 mark. The Railsplitters continued to cling to a 15-point lead with a layup from Chance Jones at the 9:09 mark, however, the Trojans answered with a 9-0 run on the wings of three-consecutive three-pointers to cut the deficit to 47-41 with 6:44 to play.
Despite cutting into the lead, the Railsplitters found a way to keep the Trojans at bay over the final six minutes of basketball. Vincent Bailey nailed a jumper at the 4:41 mark and Cam Carden followed with a pair of free throws with 3:48 left on the clock to extend the 'Splitters' lead back to 10. The Trojans made one last attempt to move back into the game, as Bo Holston canned two free throws and Chandler Hash followed that with a three-pointer to make it 55-50 with only 1:11 to play. However, Vincent Bailey slammed one home to end that Trojan run and the Railsplitters went a perfect four-for-four from the charity stripe in the final minute to ice a 61-52 victory on the road.
The Railsplitters are set to return to the friendly confines of Tex Turner Arena for a pair of South Atlantic Conference contests next week, beginning on Wednesday evening, as they welcome in-state rival Carson-Newman to town. That game is set to tip at 8 p.m. on February 20th in Harrogate, Tennessee.