HARROGATE, Tenn. — The 10th-ranked Railsplitters churned out a 29-6 run to open the second half and senior Chance Jones chalked up a career-high 30 points to headline an 88-60 win over Mars Hil on Wednesday.
It’s the 10th straight win for Lincoln Memorial (14-1 overall, 10-1 in SAC play). Mars Hill falls to 3-13 and 1-10 in the South Atlantic Conference.
After a shaky first half in which the Railsplitters scored only 27 points on 11-for-27 shooting (40.7 percent), Lincoln Memorial caught fire in the second half. The ‘Splitters broke away from a 27-27 halftime stalemate with a 29-6 run in the first 7:48 of the second stanza. Jones poured in 12 points during that flurry, including back-to-back three-pointers at the tail end of the run, to send the Railsplitters scampering out to a 56-33 lead.
That nearly eight-minute stretch was only a piece of what was a brilliant overall performance by the Knoxville native. Jones finished with a career-high 30 points on 10-for-13 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Jones, a graduate of Austin-East High School, scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half to lead the Railsplitters to their third-highest scoring half of the season. Jones has reached double figures in six of his last eight games.
After steamrolling in front with that huge second-half run, the Railsplitters never led by less than 18 points for the remainder of the contest. The final score matched LMU’s biggest lead, as they closed with jumpers by Curtis McMillion and Tim Pierce to finish in front by 28 at 88-60.
All told, the Railsplitters logged a 33-for-63 clip in the contest for a 52.4 percent mark from the field. LMU knocked down seven of its 20 three-point attempts while going 15-for-23 at the charity stripe. Along with Jones’ career-best effort, Lorenza Ross pitched in 13 points and five assists, while Keenan Peterson and Pierce contributed 10 points apiece. Vincent Bailey struggled from the floor, going 4-for-13 for 11 points, but the senior led LMU to a 50-34 advantage on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds. McMillion tallied eight points, six rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes off the bench.
The Lions shot 30.8 percent in the game, accumulating a 20-for-65 overall mark and a 3-for-17 tally from beyond the three-point arc. Carter Wright and Devonte Williams paced Mars Hill with 12 points apiece, while Will White scored 10 points in 23 productive minutes off the bench. Isaiah Cuthbertson pitched in with eight points and four rebounds. Thomas Anderson led the Lions on the glass with nine rebounds in 28 minutes.
Fouls played a pivotal role in the action on the court, as the two teams combined to draw 43 whistles and shoot 52 free throws. Five different players fouled out of the game.
The Railsplitters dominated play in the paint, outscoring the Lions 46-28 inside the square. Lincoln Memorial corralled 12 offensive rebounds which accounted for 17 second-chance points. The Railsplitters did, however, commit 18 turnovers — second-most in 2013-14 — to contribute to 22 points for the Lions.
Lincoln Memorial gained some separation in the conference standings after Carson-Newman and Wingate suffered losses on Wednesday to fall to 7-4 in league play. Newberry remains two games back of the Railsplitters following a narrow win at Coker.
LMU returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Salisbury, N.C., for a 4 p.m. battle against the Catawba College Indians.