Railsplitters storm back for gritty, 93-88 victory at C-N
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — After defeating its previous six opponents by an average of 36.2 points, the Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball team had to overcome a 16-point deficit to earn its seventh-straight victory Tuesday night at Carson-Newman. The Railsplitters (7-1, 2-0 SAC) outscored the host Eagles (2-4, 0-1 SAC) 53-42 in the second half on 61.5 percent (16-of-26) shooting and overcame a nine-rebound deficit on the glass inside Holt Fieldhouse.
Despite being outscored 40-38 in the paint and 17-2 in second-chance points due to a 18-3 disadvantage on the offensive boards, LMU got key contributions late from redshirt senior guard/forward Kamaran Calhoun, redshirt junior guard Devin Whitfield and redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Henry. Sophomore guard Courvoisier McCauley scored 19 second-half points on 3-for-5 three-point shooting and went 4-for-5 at the foul line.
Carson-Newman started the game red-hot, racing out to a seven-point, 15-8 lead after just over three and a half minutes of play. A trey by Eagles guard Tripp Davis capped a 13-3 Carson-Newman run and put the home team up 24-11 after just over 6:30 of on-court action. The Eagles would then extend their lead to 16 on a three by center Dmitrii Bykov at the 5:43 mark of the half.
A minute of play later a Carson-Newman dunk made it a 44-28 game, but the Railsplitters would dominate for the final 4:43 of the first half. LMU went on a 12-2 run over the final 4:30 of the half, holding the Eagles scoreless for the final four minutes as Carson-Newman went 0-for-11 from the field. A free throw by junior guard Alex Dahling made it a six-point game at 46-40 with 48 ticks left in the half.
The Railsplitters shot 45.2 percent (14-of-31) in the first half and went 3-for-10 (30%) from deep, while the Eagles went 17-for-50 (34%) from the floor and hit seven three-pointers. Carson-Newman’s 29-23 advantage on the glass and 12 offensive boards led to 29 more field goal attempts than LMU in the first 20 minutes of play.
Another long ball by the Eagles’ big man Bykov put Carson-Newman back up by 11 at 53-42 after two minutes of second-half action. Moments later, Tripp hit another trey to give the home team a 56-44 lead. The Railsplitters chipped away and trimmed the deficit to six with a conventional three-point play from Henry almost six minutes in. However, a quick four-point spurt by the Eagles increased the margin back out to 10.
Down 64-54 at the 13:18 mark of the second half, LMU went on a 16-4 tear over the next 3:45. A driving layup by senior guard Anthony Brown gave the Railsplitters their first lead of the night at 70-68 with 9:34 remaining. LMU would not trail for the rest of the affair as the two teams would tie five times. McCauley scored eight consecutive points during the Railsplitters’ run, while both Brown and Whitfield connected on back-to-back three-pointers.
Unable to separate itself from Carson-Newman, a McCauley layup with three and a half minutes remaining broke the seventh and final tie of the night at 84 apiece. Strong defensive play by LMU ensued for the next two minutes of play before Calhoun was able to draw a foul on an offensive rebound. Calhoun sunk both free throws with 1:37 to go to put the Railsplitters ahead 88-84.
An Eagle layup by Tripp quickly made it a two-point game but he would miss his free throw on the possible three-point opportunity. After an empty possession, LMU got a defensive stop with a Calhoun rebound and a left-wing three from Whitfield proved to be the dagger as it gave the Railsplitters a five-point lead at 91-86 with just 48 seconds left.
Carson-Newman knocked down a pair of free throws with under 30 seconds remaining, but Henry sealed the win with two made free throws of his own at the 20 second mark.
Going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc in the second half, LMU ended the night 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the floor and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from outside. The Eagles took 24 more shot attempts, going 33-for-81 (40.7%) from the field and 9-for-32 (28.1%) from long range.
McCauley finished with a team-best 21 points and five rebounds as Henry provided 19 points, a team-high nine rebounds and a game-high five assists. He went a perfect 9-for-9 at the free-throw line to lead the Railsplitters to a 24-of-29 (82.8%) outing at the charity stripe. Whitfield scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, while Anthony Brown collected 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Redshirt senior forward Rhondi Hackett also reached double figures with 11 points and was 3-for-3 at the foul line.
Carson-Newman got a game-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting and seven rebounds from forward EJ Bush and a double-double performance of 18 points and 10 rebounds from Tripp. Eagles guard Reece Anderson tallied 13 points and seven boards as Bykov finished with 15 points and six rebounds on 6-for-10 shooting.
The Railsplitters wrap up their three-game SAC road trip this weekend when they travel to Hartsville, S.C., Saturday to face the Cobras of Coker. Tip-off from inside the DeLoach Center is scheduled for 4 p.m. LMU will then return to the friendly confines of B. Frank “Tex” Turner Arena for a three-game homestand beginning next weekend with nationally-ranked Queens on Dec. 7.