HICKORY, N.C. — Paced by Jake Troyli’s 26-point outburst, the 18th-ranked Railsplitters handed the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne University an 82-72 loss in an overtime thriller in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Saturday. Lincoln Memorial (12-2, 5-1 SAC) notched their second-consecutive win in league play with the victory and placed themselves firmly in second in the SAC standings following Carson-Newman’s loss to Anderson earlier in the day. For Lenoir-Rhyne (10-4, 3-3 SAC), the loss was their first in Shuford Gymnasium this season.
Four players reached double-figure scoring for the Railsplitters, headlined by Troyli’s career-high tying 26 points on an outstanding 10-13 effort from the field. The senior forward also tallied six rebounds in 43 minutes of action. Wally Jones provided 16 points and narrowly missed recording a double-double with nine boards. Jones drilled seven of his 10 free throw attempts, marked by a 5-6 effort in the overtime, to lead the LMU back court.
Vincent Bailey was also a force down low for Lincoln Memorial, as the junior forward compiled 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Bailey was the catalyst for a dominating 43-26 margin of victory on the glass for LMU on the night. Cam Carden poured in 10 points and grabbed five rebounds to round out the double-digit scoring performers for Lincoln Memorial. The Railsplitters assisted on 17 of their 30 baskets with Wally Jones leading in that category with six dimes on the night.
The Railsplitters’ bench out-paced the Bears 15-11 on the night. Tim Pierce scored nine crutch-time points, while Chance Jones made his impact felt with six points in 23 minutes of action.
R.J. McClure was the spark offensively for the Bears, as he led the team with 23 points, highlighted by an 11-12 effort at the charity stripe. B.J. Beasley recorded a 13-point, 10-rebound outing for the Bears, while Jarvis Perry tallied 10 points. The Railsplitters were able to limit their leading scoring this season, Denzel Dillingham, to eight points on the night on 4-14 shooting.
The game was a physical contest as the two teams were whistled for a combined 42 fouls.
Lenoir-Rhyne led by as many as nine points early in the first half, but LMU put together an 8-2 run, capped by Troyli’s second three of the half, to knot the game at 29-29 with 2:07 left. The Bears scored on two-straight possessions but LMU replied with a Troyli dunk and a buzzer-beating layup by Pierce to go into the half all square at 33-33.
It was 37-37 with 16:05 left in regulation. However, over the next four minutes, Lincoln Memorial stifled the Bears defensively and found their rhythm on the offensive end which led to a 9-0 run. Wally Jones scored seven of the Railsplitters’ points over that stretch. Later in the game LMU used an 8-0 spurt capped by a Bailey jumper at the 7:33 mark to assume a commanding 56-40 lead. Cam Carden answered a Jarvis Perry jumper with a three-pointer in the following Railsplitter possession to give LMU their largest lead of the game at 59-42 with only 6:51 left to play.
In a flash, the momentum of the contest swung back in the Bears’ favor, as they implemented a full-court press which led to a devastating 12-0 run, capped by a free throw by McClure at the 4:10 mark. The Railsplitters were forced into committing six turnovers over that stretch which aided the L-R comeback attempt. Wally Jones ended the LMU scoring drought at the free throw line, knocking down one of his two attempts to extend LMU’s lead to 60-54 with only 3:19 remaining.
A layup from Pierce and another free throw from Jones had the Railsplitters up 65-58 with 1:10 to play. The Bears raced back into the game with a pair of free throws by McClure, a layup by Trez Shuford and a jumper by Dillingham to make it a one-point game with 17 ticks left in regulation.
With nine seconds left, LMU broke the L-R pressure and Chance Jones was sent to the line where he drained both attempts to give LMU a three-point cushion. However, McClure was fouled on late his three-point attempt and drained all three of his free throw attempts to send the game into overtime with the teams square at 67 apiece.
In the extra five minutes the Railsplitters never trailed. Lincoln Memorial rolled out to a 79-70 lead behind a 10-1 run, paced by Troyli’s four points. Lenoir-Rhyne hit just 2-of-7 shots in OT as LMU went on to the 82-72 victory.
The Railsplitters travel to Jefferson City, Tenn., Wednesday to take on arch-rival Carson-Newman at 8 p.m