CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The second-seeded and No. 15 Railsplitters (29-5) used a suffocating defensive performance and a 15-4 second-half run to defeat the top-seeded and No. 6 Queens Royals (30-4) 82-68 to win the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional on Tuesday night inside the Levine Center.
With the win, Lincoln Memorial books its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which is being hosted in Sioux Falls, South Dakota March 22-25.
In the previous three meetings between Lincoln Memorial and Queens this season, the two teams were separated by a total of three points.
The Royals had a 2-1 edge after defeating the Railsplitters in the Levine Center during the regular season and also pulling out a three-point win in the South Atlantic Conference Championship title game, which awarded Queens the right to host the Southeast Regional.
The fourth and final meeting, and the one with far and away the biggest stakes, played out in similar fashion with 17 lead changes and eight ties through the first 30 minutes of action.
Down the stretch, an unlikely hero emerged to carry the Railsplitters to victory, as freshman guard Deshawn Patterson scored all 16 of his team-leading points in the second half, including 10 points during a 15-4 run that put Lincoln Memorial ahead by nine points with six minutes to play.
Along with Patterson, Trevon Shaw – the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Most Outstanding Player – and Emanuel Terry scored 15 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds.
Paul Woodson racked up 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Chris Perry had eight points and eight boards. Perry was also named to the Southeast Region All-Tournament team.
As a footnote in the Railsplitters’ second straight Southeast Region title, Luquon Choice was limited to just four points on 1-of-9 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, but did become the fourth player in program history and the third in South Atlantic Conference history to reach 2,000 career points.
The 15-4 second-half run ultimately led the Railsplitters to victory, but the foundation for that was laid by an outstanding defensive effort. Carried by Woodson and Choice, Lincoln Memorial limited the Royals’ normally-efficient offensive attack to 36.8 percent shooting and a 9-for-26 mark from 3-point range.
Queens also didn’t help itself by going 17-for-31 at the charity stripe.
Mike Davis led Queens with a game-high 18 points and six rebounds, while Todd Withers went 4-for-8 from deep to score 16 points. Withers also matched the team-high mark with eight rebounds.
Ike Agusi had 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and Daniel Camps posted nine points and eight rebounds before fouling out after 22 minutes of work.
Woodson completely eliminated Jalin Alexander from the game, as he held the All-Southeast Region pick to two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
The Railsplitters outrebounded the Royals 43-37 and controlled the paint in general, accounting for a 42-22 advantage in points inside the square. Eleven offensive rebounds also led LMU to 12 second-chance points.
The first half alone featured seven ties and 13 lead changes while neither team established a lead larger than five points.
Perry and Shaw powered the Railsplitters out of the gate with 10 combined points to put Lincoln Memorial ahead 10-6 at the 15:33 mark. The Railsplitters matched their largest lead of the half at 12-7 on Terry’s layup with 15 minutes remaining, but the Royals countered with a 6-0 run on back-to-back 3-pointers from Agusi and Withers to take a 13-12 lead with 12:19 left.
The lead bounced back and forth after that until a 3-pointer from Cornelius Taylor and a free throw from Terry pushed the Railsplitters back ahead by five at 23-18 with 6:51 remaining on the clock.
Lincoln Memorial maintained that slim lead until 3-pointers from Davis and Withers put the Royals back in the lead, 26-25, at the 4:38 mark. The two teams weren’t separated by more than two points after that, while a bucket from Hunter Spaw gave LMU a 34-32 lead with 55 seconds left.
Queens held the ball for the final shot of the half, but Davis’ 3-point try missed the mark.
That theme persisted early in the second half as the Railsplitters took a 36-32 lead on a bucket from Woodson before Queens responded with back-to-back dunks from Camps to tie the game.
A 3-pointer from Shaw sent Lincoln Memorial into the under-16 media timeout with a 39-36 lead.
The Royals came out of the timeout and promptly retook the lead at 41-39 on an old-fashioned three-point play from Agusi. An offensive rebound by Woodson led to a three for Shaw, which gave the Railsplitters a 42-41 lead with 12 minutes to go, but Queens jumped back in front on a basket by Darryl White on the next possession.
Patterson then was the catalyst for the final momentum shift, scoring 10 of LMU’s 15 points during a 15-4 run. Patterson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start that flurry and later scored on back-to-back runners to give Lincoln Memorial a 55-48 lead with 7:08 left. Shaw pushed the lead to 57-48 and capped that 15-4 spurt with a bucket at the 6:25 mark.
A layup and a triple by Withers cut the Railsplitters’ lead to 57-53 with 5:28 to go, but a three-point play for Patterson and a free throw from Terry pushed the lead back to seven at 61-54 with 4:45 left.
Queens couldn’t whittle the lead to less than six points after that, while a put-back from Terry followed by two free throws for Woodson put the Railsplitters up 69-58 with less than two minutes left.
Lincoln Memorial cruised from there, as a fast-break dunk by Terry brought the LMU faithful in attendance to their feet and made it a 74-60 game.
The Railsplitters iced it at the free-throw line before Terry capped the game with a thunderous dunk with three seconds left.
Lincoln Memorial is heading back to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second straight season, where the Railsplitters will be looking to make a return trip to the National Championship game.
The Railsplitters will learn their opponent for the national quarterfinal game after the remainder of the Elite Eight participants are determined and reseeded on Wednesday.
Stay tuned to www.LMURailsplitters.com for more information regarding the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.