WINGATE, N.C. — The 23rd-ranked Railsplitters (8-2, 4-1 SAC) built a 15-point lead at the break and withstood a second-half run to defeat the Wingate Bulldogs (3-7, 1-4 SAC) 84-72 in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Wednesday night in Wingate, North Carolina.
After an eight-day layoff, Lincoln Memorial started slow, but used a 24-6 run to establish a 21-point cushion at the tail end of the first half. The Bulldogs rallied to cut the deficit to as little as six points in the second half, but the Railsplitters stiff-armed that run to win their fifth straight game and improve to 19-9 all-time against Wingate. It also marked Lincoln Memorial’s ninth consecutive win over the Bulldogs.
“It was a hard-fought game and I thought we played really well the first 16 minutes,” LMU head coach Josh Schertz said. “I don’t think we matched their aggressiveness and competitiveness the rest of the game. Hopefully we learn from the experience. You can’t afford to lose your edge against good teams and that’s what happened tonight.”
Dorian Pinson led all players with 21 points on 4-of-8 shooting and an 11-for-16 mark at the free-throw line to go along with 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Emanuel Terry also finished with a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds and five blocks.
Luquon Choice played all 40 minutes and scored 19 points on a 6-for-14 mark from 3-point range. Cornelius Taylor chipped in 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 33 minutes of work.
LMU’s second-leading scorer Chris Perry drew his second foul less than two minutes into the game and was forced to take a seat for the remainder of the first half. However, Perry was pivotal in the second half, scoring 16 points on a near perfect 8-for-9 line. He also finished with five rebounds and two blocks in the contest.
The Railsplitters shot 49.1 percent from the field, including a 14-for-28 effort in the first half. Lincoln Memorial also buried 10 3-pointers on a 41.7 percent mark. However, a poor effort from the free-throw line derailed an otherwise solid offensive performance, as the Railsplitters went 18-for-31 at the charity stripe.
Wingate scored the first five points of the game, but the Railsplitters responded with an 11-2 run, a stretch paced by three consecutive 3-pointers which put the visiting team ahead 11-7 with 16:10 still to go in the half.
A lay-up from Pinson increased the Railsplitters’ lead to 20-13 at the 13:27 mark, but a four-point play on the other side of the floor closed the gap to three points.
That’s when the Railsplitters took over as Lincoln Memorial ripped off a 24-6 run that consumed more than 10 minutes. Terry kick-started that flurry with a bucket, while Choice bagged three 3-pointers to put LMU ahead 34-21 with a little over eight minutes remaining in the half.
Josh Dominguez stopped the bleeding with a bucket at the 7:12 mark, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t score again for more than four minutes of game time. During that stretch, Lincoln Memorial scored 10 unanswered points to build a commanding 44-23 lead. The Bulldogs ended the half with a minor 6-0 spurt to trim the Railsplitters’ lead to 44-29 at the break.
Terry opened the second half with a dunk to extend the Railsplitters’ lead back to 17 points, but an 11-5 Wingate run closed the gap to 51-40 with 16:51 to play. A dunk from Perry gave Lincoln Memorial a little more breathing room, but the Bulldogs used a 7-0 run to pull within six points at 59-53 with 11 minutes left.
That’s as close as it would get as back-to-back buckets by Perry and a pair of free throws from Terry increased the Railsplitters’ cushion to 69-55 with eight and half minutes to go.
The LMU lead was never less than 12 points after that, while a 3-pointer from Pinson at the 3:38 mark pushed it back to 17 points, allowing the Railsplitters to cruise to the final buzzer.
Mike Baez and Zeriq Lolar led the Bulldogs with 20 points apiece on a combined 13-for-34 effort from the field. That tandem also combined for 12 rebounds, led by Lolar’s team-high seven boards. Anthanee Doyle chipped in 18 points, while no other Wingate player accounted for more than five points in the contest.
The Railsplitters completely stymied the Bulldogs’ offensive attack, as Wingate shot 32.9 percent in the contest despite a 10-for-22 effort (45.5 percent) from the arc.
The Railsplitters return to Tex Turner Arena to host the Newberry Wolves for a SAC showdown at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Wolves are sitting at 2-3 in league play after defeating Mars Hill 98-85 on Wednesday night.