HARROGATE, Tenn. — Senior Vincent Bailey poured in 23 points in 22 minutes of action to lead the 15th-ranked Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters to a 91-66 victory over the Hiwassee Tigers in the season opener in Tex Turner Arena.
LMU jumped out to a 1-0 start in the 2013-14 campaign.
Hiwassee suffered its fifth-straight loss, falling to 1-5 on the season.
Despite only scoring three points in the first half, Vincent Bailey came out gunning in the second half, finishing with a team-leading 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting. The Jennings, Fla., native knocked down all five of his free throw attempts and added six rebounds in 22 minutes of work. Bailey’s offensive effort was backed by red-shirt freshman Luquon Choice, who canned four three-pointers in the game in route to a 15-point performance in his debut with the Railsplitters.
C.J. Wakeley posted 13 points on a four-for-six effort from the floor. The junior guard also dished out a team-leading five assists.
Chance Jones used a perfect six-for-six clip from the charity stripe to amass 11 points with five rebounds. Tim Pierce added seven points off the bench for LMU. Curtis McMillion chimed in with six points while corralling a game-high seven rebounds.
Hiwassee’s Tyler Johnson matched Bailey’s game-high effort with 23 points - carried by a 10-for-12 mark from the free throw line — to go along with a game-high seven assists. LaZerick Boyd aided the offensive effort for the Tigers with 13 points. Joel Bailey chipped in with nine points and four rebounds.
Both the Railsplitters and Tigers struggled to find offense early in the first half as Vincent Bailey broke a nearly three-minute scoring drought with a three-point play with 17:04 left in the frame to give the Railsplitters the first points of the game. The Tigers countered with four free throws from Tyler Johnson and a three-pointer by Joel Bailey to assume a 7-6 lead with 14:52 remaining.
The Railsplitters briefly jumped on top by double-digits, but Boyd canned a jumper for the Tigers with 29 seconds remaining in the half to send LMU into the locker room with a 36-28 halftime lead.
Following the first media timeout of the second half, Wakeley finished off another three-point play to extend LMU’s lead to 47-33. Tyler Johnson cut the Tigers deficit to 11 with a jumper at the 14:24 mark of the half, but Lorenza Ross knocked down a free throw and Wakeley canned a three-pointer with 13:46 left on the clock to give the Railsplitters a 53-38 cushion.
The Railsplitters held an 81-63 lead with 2:59 remaining in regulation and closed on a 10-3 run to capture a 91-66 win.
The No. 15 Railsplitters return to the court on Nov. 16, traveling to Bristol, Tenn., for a non-conference bout with the King Tornado. The ‘Splitters and Tornadoes battle at 7 p.m.