HARROGATE, Tenn. — Gerel Simmons scored 27 points and Luquon Choice and Jalen Steele added 24 apiece as top-seeded Lincoln Memorial University defeated Tusculum College 101-75 in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday night at Tex Turner Arena.
The Railsplitters (27-2), ranked second in the latest NABC Division II poll, won their 17th straight game and advanced to the semifinals against Newberry on Saturday afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina. LMU shot 54.2 percent (39-for-72) from the field, including 13 three-pointers, to defeat the Pioneers for the 18th consecutive meeting.
Matt Shown led the eighth-seeded Pioneers (14-15) with 18 points while Kendall Patterson added 16 points, but Tusculum shot 42.9 percent (27-for-63) from the field and was outrebounded 44-30 by Lincoln Memorial. The Pioneers have been eliminated by the Railsplitters in each of their last four trips to the SAC Tournament.
Simmons shot 10-for-18 from the field, including three three-pointers, while Choice was 10-for-17 from the floor and Steele hit five threes as part of an 8-for-17 shooting effort. Dorian Pinson also reached double figures for the Railsplitters, finishing the game with 14 points, a game-high 13 rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots.
Chase Mounce also scored in double figures as he had 11 points to go along with four rebounds and a season-high four blocked shots, while Javon Price scored 12 points and dished out four assists for the Pioneers. As a team, Tusculum shot 28.6 percent (8-for-28) from the floor in the second half in being outscored 44-30 by Lincoln Memorial after halftime.
Tusculum scored the game’s first five points on a layup by Shown and a three-pointer by Price, but a pair of three-pointers from Choice gave Lincoln Memorial the lead at 6-5 with less than a minute and a half completed. Tusculum trailed 17-12 after a three-pointer by Steele with 15:33 left in the half, only to score seven unanswered points on field goals from Shown and Darius Carter and a three-pointer by Price, the latter coming with 14:17 left in the half to give the Pioneers a 19-17 lead.
The teams were tied 26-26 after a basket from Mounce with 10:51 remaining in the half, but the Pioneers went scoreless for 2 1/2 minutes as the Railsplitters went out to a 30-26 lead. A three-pointer from Curtis Webb pushed the LMU lead to 40-30 with 6:13 remaining in the half, but the Pioneers were able to cut the deficit to 46-40 on a Carter free throw with 2:46 left in the half.
However, Steele hit a pair of three-pointers and Simmons added another to help the Railsplitters to a 57-45 lead at halftime. Simmons led all players with 20 points in the opening half, while Steele added 19 as the Railsplitters went 10-for-18 from three-point range as a team. Shown was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in the first half and finished with 14 points for the Pioneers, who shot 54.3 percent (19-for-35) from the field in the half and went 6-for-11 from three-point range.
In the second half, the Railsplitters built a 17-point lead at 63-46 before the Pioneers pulled within 11 at 66-55 on a three-pointer by Cory Fagan with 15:45 remaining. Lincoln Memorial would build its lead to 20 points at 78-58 on a jumper by Choice with 10:43 remaining, and took its largest lead of the game when Choice scored the final points with 2:18 left.
Carter finished his Tusculum career with 1,338 points (10th all-time) and as the program’s career leader in free throws made (458) and attempted (592). Carter is 10th all-time in free-throw percentage at 77.4 percent, while his 135 career steals are the fifth-most in program history and the most by a Pioneer in the last 20 years. His 162 made free throws this season are tied for the fourth-most in a single season in school history.
Shown scored 651 points for the Pioneers and finished seventh all-time in field-goal percentage (53.2 percent) and eighth in total rebounds (598). His average of 5.7 rebounds per game is the eighth-best in school history.
Price played the final two seasons of his college career at Tusculum, but in that time span was able to hit 152 three-pointers to rank 10th on the school career list. He also ranks seventh with 409 three-point attempts, and is fifth all-time in three-pointers made in a single season with 91 during the 2014-15 season.
Also concluding their Pioneer careers were forward Johnathan Knight, a two-year member of the program who appeared in 40 games and shot 53.6 percent from the field, along with guard Ben Arnold who plans to attend medical school after being a four-year member of the program and playing in 19 career games.
BY: Tusculum College