HARROGATE, Tenn. — For the fourth-consecutive season a 20-game winner resides in Harrogate, as the 19th-ranked Railsplitters pulled away late in the second half to take a 73-64 victory of Lenoir-Rhyne in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Saturday. Lincoln Memorial University (20-4, 13-3 SAC) grabbed their fourth-straight win and clung to a share of the top spot in the SAC standings with the win, while the Bears were dropped to 17-7 overall and 10-6 in league play.
The Railsplitters amassed as large as a 15-point advantage in the contest, meeting that mark with a three-point play by Curtis McMillion with 9:41 left in the opening frame. However, the Bears fought back into the contest, pushing to within one point at 46-45 on a jumper by Allan Jones with 12:08 left in regulation.
At the 9:15 mark, the Bears continued to hold closely, as R.J. McClure buried a couple of free throws to make it 52-50. Yet, the Railsplitters answered with a 5-0 run, paced entirely by Vincent Bailey to assume command of the game. From that juncture, Lenoir-Rhyne was never able to cut the score to within a single possession with Lincoln Memorial extending their lead to as many as 10 over that stretch en route to the 73-64 victory.
Junior Vincent Bailey scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final nine minutes of the contest, spearheading a 21-14 run by the Railsplitters to secure the victory. Bailey nailed nine of his 11 attempts while pacing Lincoln Memorial to a 40-29 advantage on the glass with another game-high figure of eight rebounds. The Jennings, Florida native compiled those numbers in only 20 minutes of action. Sophomore Lorenza Ross chimed in with 15 points and headlined a 16-assist effort for the Railsplitters with six assists. Wally Jones also made his impact felt with 11 points in 21 minutes of work.
The Railsplitters’ second unit played a pivotal role in tonight’s contest, as that group was led by Dustin Craig, who tallied seven points, five rebounds and two blocks. Curtis McMillion got into the act with six points and two boards.
Denzel Dillingham headlined the Bears’ offensive attack with 19 points despite struggling with a seven-for-16 effor from the floor. Allan Jones came off the bench to provide L-R with 14 points, while R.J. McClure chipped in with 13 points and six boards.
By earning their 20th win of the season, the Railsplitters’ eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the fourth-consecutive season, moving their record over that stretch to 93-22. Seniors Wally Jones, Cam Carden and Dustin Craig are the winningest players in the history of Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball, as those three have been along for the ride for the past four seasons, surpassing the previous mark of 89 wins in a four-year stretch.
The Railsplitters visit Wingate on Wednesday with a share of the South Atlantic Conference regular-season title on the line. That game is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m.