AIKEN, S.C. — Montevallo took control with a late 10-0 run and the Falcons hit 12 of 14 free throws down the stretch as they knocked off the Railsplitters 98-86 in the semifinals of the NCAA Southest Regional on Sunday.
Lincoln Memorial limited Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year Troran Brown to a relatively off night as he finished with 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting, but Orlando Brazier more than picked up the slack. Brazier posted a game-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting while adding a game-high 11 rebounds. Ryan May chipped in with 17 points bolstered by a 9-for-10 mark at the free-throw line.
Senior Chance Jones put on a show in his final game for the Railsplitters, racking up 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in just under 40 minutes of action. Jones’ classmate and Southeast Region Player of the Year Vincent Bailey added 20 points and eight rebounds. Keenan Peterson contributed 13 points and six rebounds before fouling out, while Lorenza Ross finished with 10 points and three assists.
The sixth-ranked Railsplitters and No. 18 Falcons battled closely for the first 35 minute as neither team led by more than five points. The contest appeared poised for a dramatic finish after Luquon Choice drained a trey with 5:20 left to give LMU a 78-76 lead, but Montevallo made the largest and most important run of the game over the next 3:11. The Falcons scored 10-unanswered points, capped with a Silas Mills jumper, to take an 86-78 advantage.
Jones halted the Falcon flurry with a pair of free throws in the ensuing LMU possession, but Montevallo went 12-for-14 from the charity stripe in the final 1:30 to hold on for the 12-point win.
The Railsplitters (28-3) complete their season in the semifinal round of the NCAA Southeast Regional for the third consecutive season, but it was another banner year for Lincoln Memorial as the program set the South Atlantic Conference single-season record for wins while capturing the league’s regular season and tournament titles. Montevallo (26-5) advances to Tuesday’s regional final to take on the winner of top-seeded USC Aiken and No.4 GRU Augusta.
Turnovers proved vital as the Railsplitters committed 13 miscues that were converted into 23 points for the Falcons. Inversely, Montevallo only turned the rock over nine times and the Railsplitters scored eight points on those opportunities. Despite being outsized, the Railsplitters logged a 39-34 advantage on the glass. The Falcons posted a 32-for-40 mark at the charity stripe, while Lincoln Memorial was 13-for-18, a nearly 20-point disparity.
Seniors Bailey and Jones leave Lincoln Memorial as the program’s all-time winningest players as that duo racked up 106 wins with only 18 losses. Bailey and Jones have a hand in three South Atlantic Conference regular season and two tournament titles hanging in the Tex Turner Arena rafters.
LMU advanced to the semifinals with a 76-65 win over Carson-Newman on Saturday.
Sophomore guard Tim Pierce hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points to lead the way for the Railsplitters in that one.
Lincoln Memorial trailed 32-31 at the half after the Eagles closed the first period with a 6-0 run. It was just the fifth time all season that LMU trailed at halftime.
Carson-Newman freshman forward Sawyer Williams was the key to the Eagles’ first-half success as he scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in the first 20 minutes. In the two regular-season meetings with the Railsplitters, Williams’ high game was 12 points.
The Railsplitters quickly evaporated the Eagles’ lead, opening the second half on a 16-4 run behind eight quick points from Pierce. That frenzy propelled Lincoln Memorial to a 47-36 lead. Carson-Newson scored the next seven points to close the gap back to 47-43 with 11:45 to play.
LMU then held the Eagles without a field goal over the next 5:15 and used a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 57-43 with 6:15 to play.
While Bailey was limited to only a 5-for-7 mark from the field, he knocked down 11 of his 14 free-throw attempts to rack up 21 points. Bailey drained eight freebies in the final two minutes and the Eagles never got closer than seven points down the stretch. Bailey added 10 rebounds to log his 16th double-double of the season.
Peterson added 10 points, 10 boards and four blocks in 23 minutes.