HARROGATE, Tenn. — Chris Perry scored a game-high 30 points to lead top-seeded Lincoln Memorial to an 88-71 win over No. 8 seed Tusculum in the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Quarterfinal at Tex Turner Arena.
LMU (25-4), ranked ninth in NCAA Division II, recorded its 12th consecutive victory and advances to Saturday’s SAC Semifinal against No. 4 seed Carson-Newman, which will be played at Timmons Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. The Pioneers (12-17), who were making their 16th SAC postseason appearance in the last 18 years, have their tournament run ended by the Railsplitters for a fifth straight time (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017).
Tusculum senior Kendall Patterson led the Pioneers with his 26-point performance as he went 10-of-17 from the floor to go along with two assists and two steals. Senior Chase Mounce tallied 13 points in his final TC game, including a career-best three 3-pointers. Freshman Trey Blevins poured in 10 points, while Ronnie Baylark tallied seven markers for the Pioneers.
LMU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, including a Perry dunk to start the game. The Pioneers answered with seven unanswered points, including a trey and dunk by Baylark as the Pioneers led 7-4 at the 18:12 mark of the period.
LMU regained the lead at 17-13 after a dunk by Emanuel Terry. But the Pioneers responded with a 10-1 run including five points from senior Vincent Brown and a three-pointer by rookie Caleb Hodnett as TC led 23-18 with 8:56 remaining in the half.
TC maintained the lead and extended it to a game-high nine points at 39-30 following a pair of free throws from senior Zach Davis with 2:31 left.
But LMU closed out the half scoring seven straight points, including a Perry jumper just before the halftime buzzer as TC led 39-37 at the intermission.
LMU’s Cornelius Taylor drained a trey to start the second half to extend the run to 10-0 as the Railsplitters regained the lead at 40-39. The team’s traded buckets as Perry was hitting two-pointers, while Mounce made back-to-back trifectas as Tusculum led 45-42 with 18:34 left in the contest.
With the score tied at 51-51, LMU took the lead for good on a Luquon Choice trey with 15:02 left in the game. The Railsplitters pushed the lead out to 71-62 after two Taylor free throws with 6:03 remaining in the contest.
Patterson made one of two free throws and converted a layup as the Pioneers trimmed the deficit to 71-65 with 5:21 on the clock. But LMU closed out the game with a 17-6 run down the stretch to punch its ticket for the semifinal round and record its 21st straight victory against their longtime in-state rivals.
Perry finished the night shooting a sizzling 12-of-16 from the floor to go along with his game-high 11 rebounds. Choice posted 25 markers, including four 3-pointers for the league’s all-time leading long-range shooter. Paul Woodson also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
LMU outscored the Pioneers in the paint by a 50-26 margin and out-rebounded TC, 45-32.
Tusculum connected on nine 3-pointers in its 31 attempts (73.7%), but LMU focused its defensive attention to senior Cory Fagan who was limited to just two points as he went 0-for-7 from three-point territory and ending his school-record streak of 44 straight games with a made three-pointer, a run which began Jan. 9, 2016.
LMU finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor and a sizzling 18-of-20 from the free throw line (90%).