CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Railsplitters rallied from a 13-point deficit to force overtime, but the No. 3 Queens Royals ended the extra period by scoring five unanswered points to escape with a 103-101 victory on Monday night at the Levine Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Lincoln Memorial (10-4, 5-3 SAC) was buried in a 13-point hole in the first half and spent the remainder of regulation climbing out of it before eventually tying the game up with 32 seconds left.
After forcing overtime, the Railsplitters raced out to as large as a three-point lead in the extra period, but the Royals (13-0, 8-0 SAC) rallied to snap an eight-game losing streak against Lincoln Memorial and remain unbeaten.
“I am proud of our guys,” LMU head coach Josh Schertz said. “I thought we competed hard and emptied the tanks out there. At the end of day to win close games you have to defend and execute and we allowed too many baskets with angles at the rim all night, including three in overtime.”
“My proudest moments here as a coach haven’t been the championships, but it’s been when we’ve responded to great adversity and shown resiliency. We will find out a lot about ourselves on Wednesday on the road against a very good Anderson team.”
The loss overshadows heroic performances from redshirt-senior Hunter Spaw and redshirt-junior Trevon Shaw, who powered the short-handed Railsplitters against the nation’s third-ranked team.
In only the second start of his career, Spaw poured in a career-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including the game-tying basket with 32 seconds remaining in regulation. Spaw also drained two free throws with two seconds left to force overtime.
Shaw, meanwhile, scored a season-high 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, and he tallied 14 of his points in the second half and overtime.
In addition to that duo, Dorian Pinson piled up 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists over 41 minutes of action, while Chris Perry provided 18 points and nine boards before fouling out with just over a minute left in regulation. No other LMU player finished with more than eight points.
The Railsplitters shot 46.3 percent from the field, knocked down 10 3-pointers and went 17-for-23 at the free-throw line, but the Royals were ultimately just a bit more productive on that end of the floor, shooting 54.5 percent while converting 23 of their 33 free throws.
Spaw buried two 3-pointers, while Cornelius Taylor pitched in another in the early going to give the Railsplitters an 11-9 lead with 15:22 left in the first half. Lincoln Memorial continued to hold a two-point edge at 13-11 following a lay-up by Pinson at the 13-11 mark, but the Royals used back-to-back triples from Mike Davis to pull ahead 17-13 with 13 minutes remaining in the half.
After that flurry, the Royals would lead for the remainder of the first half. A Daniel Carr bucket made it 21-15 in favor of the home team at the 11:34 mark, while three free throws by Davis extended the Royals’ lead to 29-21 with just over 10 minutes left.
Queens’ first-half lead crested at 13 points as the Royals pulled ahead 35-22 with 7:49 to go on a bucket from Jalin Alexander. However, the Railsplitters prevented it from getting any worse and used a 7-0 spurt to close the gap to 35-29 on a basket from Shaw with 5:52 left.
The Royals would later push their lead back to 10 points on the wings of five consecutive points from Alexander, making it 42-32 at the 4:31 mark. Yet, the Railsplitters fought back once again and closed the half on a 9-4 run, capped by Spaw’s third 3-pointer of the half with 1:27 left, to go into the break trailing 46-41.
The second half saw the Railsplitters continually fight and claw their way back only to see Queens come up with the plays to maintain the lead.
The Royals assumed a seven-point lead at 54-47 following a jumper by Carr at 16:31, but a 7-0 run capped by a Spaw 3-pointer tied it up at 54 apiece with 14:32 left. Queens never relinquished the lead and pushed back out to a 66-59 lead on a three from Davis with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Queens continued to hold sway and led 72-64 after a Jared Hendryx free throw at 9:14, but a three by Luquon Choice followed by a Pinson jumper closed the gap to 72-69 at the seven-minute mark.
The Royals expanded the lead to seven points once again after that, but an old-fashioned three-point play from Perry with 4:01 left closed the gap to 78-77. Queens didn’t relinquish the lead after that, though, and eventually pushed back out to an 88-83 lead with 1:08 left following a three-point play by Daniel Camps.
The Railsplitters responded, as Shaw used a three-point play to cut the deficit to two points while a fast break layup from Spaw drew the game even at 88-88 with 32 seconds left. The Royals took the lead on the ensuing possession as Ike Agusi drained a tough turnaround jumper with five seconds left. However, Spaw was fouled with just two seconds left and made both free throws to force overtime.
In overtime, the two teams went back and forth from start to finish, but the Railsplitters established a three-point edge on four different occasions.
A basket from Pinson followed by a free throw from Shaw made it 101-98 in favor of LMU with 90 seconds left in overtime. However, Carr scored on back-to-back possessions to give Queens the lead, while Alexander went one-of-two at the free throw line to give the Royals a 103-101 lead.
Pinson had a look at the potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired, but his shot missed the mark.
Queens was paced by Alexander, who led all players with 28 points on a near-perfect 11-of-12 effort from the field to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Davis contributed 17 points in 38 minutes off the bench, while Agusi chipped in 15 points. Camps provided 14 points in just 17 minutes of work for the Royals.
The Railsplitters will make the quick turnaround to face the Anderson Trojans on Wednesday in the Abney Center in Anderson, South Carolina. Anderson is one of five teams currently tied for second place in the SAC along with Lincoln Memorial.