Third-ranked Railsplitters extend nation’s longest winning streak
NEWBERRY, S.C. — Redshirt junior guard Devin Whitfield scored a season-best 32 points as the Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball team extended the nation’s longest winning streak with an 87-61 South Atlantic Conference victory over Newberry inside Eleazer Arena late Saturday afternoon. The Railsplitters (13-1, 6-0) remained unblemished in league play and won their 13th consecutive game behind 48.5 percent (32-of-66) shooting and 12 made three pointers.
Despite being short-handed, LMU led for all but the opening 1:48 of play and limited the Wolves (7-5, 3-3) to 37.3 percent (22-of-59) shooting for its fifth road triumph of the season.
Allowing the hosts to score only two points in the opening five minutes of the contest, the Railsplitters capped a 16-0 run with a 3-pointer from junior guard Alex Dahling to pull ahead 16-2 just over five minutes in. After Newberry went on a 6-0 run in the following minute of play, the Railsplitters outscored the Wolves 11-3 in just over four minutes to go back up by 16 at 27-11 with 9:41 to go in the half.
Leading 29-17 at the 6:42 mark of the opening half, Whitfield scored 10 of the LMU’s next 12 points as the Railsplitters went on a 12-3 run to take a 21-point advantage (41-20) with 3:16 remaining before the break. The 6-foot-5 swingman would hit two more layups in the half to take 21 points into the locker room with LMU holding an 18-point, 47-29 lead.
The Railsplitters connected on 54.5 percent (18-of-33) of their first-half shots and went 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from beyond the arc. Defensively, LMU held Newberry to 11 first-half field goals as the Wolves went 11-for-30 (36.7%) from the floor and 5-for-13 (38.5%) from deep.
Back-to-back Whitfield treys put the Railsplitters in front by 24 at 53-29 90 seconds into the second half. From there, Newberry would go on a 11-3 run over the next 3:45 of on-court action to chisel LMU’s lead down to 16 at 56-40 after five minutes of second-half play. However, sophomore guard Courvoisier McCauley connected on a three pointer to put the Railsplitters back up by 21 at 66-45 with 11:15 to play.
A pair of free throws by Whitfield capped a 14-3 LMU run over a 6:11 span and gave the Blue and Gray a 27-point, 80-53 lead with just four minutes to go. The Railsplitters took their largest lead of the day at 85-57 on a layup from redshirt junior forward Shaquille Rombley with 1:27 remaining. Freshman guard Jeremiah Keene scored LMU’s final points of the game on a jumper in the paint with just over 35 second left.
All told, the Railsplitters outscored the Wolves 38-22 in the paint and 12-2 on the fastbreak as LMU went 12-for-34 (35.3%) from outside and 11-for-13 (84.6%) at the foul line. Newberry shot 40 percent (10-of-25) from three-point land and went 7-for-9 (77.8%) on free throws.
Whitfield was 11-for-18 from the field and 5-for-10 from deep in his best performance as a Railsplitter, adding four rebounds and a pair of assists. Dahling finished with four three pointers and 16 points, in addition to six rebounds, while redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Henry pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and dished out a career-best eight assists. McCauley scored 12 and grabbed six rebounds as sophomore guard Julius Brown collected eight points, tied his career high in rebounds with five and handed out five assists.
The Wolves got a team-high 11 points from QuanDaveon McCollum and 10 points from Marshall Lange. Luke Gibson scored nine and Newberry’s leading scorer and rebounder Angelo Sales, Jr. was held to just eight points and a trio of rebounds.
The Railsplitters return to the comforts of Harrogate where they will enjoy a three-game homestand beginning with UVa-Wise this upcoming Wednesday, Jan. 8. Tip-off from inside Tex Turner Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with the game sponsored by Powell Valley National Bank. Next weekend, LMU will host Catawba Saturday, Jan. 11 before welcoming Mars Hill Wednesday, Jan. 15.