LMU, Anderson Advance to SAC Basketball Championship Men's Final

LMU, Anderson Advance to SAC Basketball Championship Men's Final

No. 1 Lincoln Memorial 97, No. 5 Newberry 76

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GREENVILLE, S.C. – With five players reaching double figures, top-seeded and 13th-ranked Lincoln Memorial defeated fifth-seeded Newberry, 97-76, in the semifinals of the 2014 Food Lion South SAC Men's Basketball Championship Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.

Lincoln Memorial (26-2) won its eighth-straight contest and advanced to its second consecutive SAC Tournament championship tilt. The Railsplitters will face the winner of the third-seeded Anderson and seventh-seeded Coker contest. Tip-off for the tournament championship contest is slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Timmons Arena.

Newberry (19-9), ranked ninth in the most recent NCAA Southeast Region rankings, will await Sunday night's selection show to find out its postseason fate. The Wolves were looking to advance to their first SAC Tournament championship tilt since 2004.

The Railsplitters posted a 58.1 percent accuracy from field in the first half and closed the game shooting 53.7 percent, while winning the battle of the boards, 52-41.

LMU Forward Vincent Bailey led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for a double-double, while Tim Pierce added 21 points for the Railsplitters. Guard Chance Jones and Curtis McMillion each netted 15 points, with guard Lorenza Ross chipping in 12 points and a game-high six assists.

Guard Demarkus Smith led Newberry with 19 points, while Brandon Taylor, Xavier Holmes and guard Gerald Evans added 10 points apiece.

The opening minutes of the contest pitted LMU's inside strength versus Newberry's outside accuracy, with Newberry jumping out to an early 6-2 advantage. But the Railsplitters responded with eight unanswered points and Lorenza Ross's layup during the outburst gave LMU its first lead of the contest, at 7-6.

The Railsplitters stretched their run to 14-2 and pushed out to a 16-8 lead with less than 11 minutes left in the opening half on Vincent Bailey's jumper.

Lincoln Memorial opened a double-digit advantage, with the Wolves trimming the deficit to just six, but would get no closer, as Lincoln Memorial again answered with another outburst to build a 36-17 cushion with just more than four minutes left in the first half.

Newberry's Gerald Evans' 3-pointer from the right side brought the Wolves to within 40-25 inside the final two minutes of the frame, with the Railsplitters taking a 43-29 edge to intermission after Demarkus Smith scored four straight for Newberry in the closing moments.

Lincoln Memorial opened the second half with a 14-7 surge to claim a 57-35 advantage with 16:53 remaining in the game, while the Wolves rallied within 65-54 on guard Cole Birchfield's 3-point play with just less than 12 minutes left.

The Railsplitters steadily rebuilt the 20-point cushion and maintained a double-digit lead through the remainder of the contest.


No. 3 Anderson 100, No. 7 Coker 89

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GREENVILLE, S.C. – The guard duo of Chandler Hash and CJ Gleaton combined for 76 points, as third-seeded Anderson outlasted No. 7 seed Coker, 100-89, in the semifinals of the 2014 Food Lion SAC Basketball Championship Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.

Anderson (22-8) has won four of its last five and will face will face top-seeded and 13th-ranked Lincoln Memorial in the tournament championship contest, which is slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Timmons Arena. The Trojans will be making their second appearance in the title contest since joining the league for the 2010-11 campaign.

Coker, bidding for its first appearance in the SAC Championship contest in the Cobras' inaugural season in the league, saw its season end with a 15-13 overall record.

Hash and Gleaton posted career highs of 44 points and 32 points, respectively, while Gleaton pulled down 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Hash set a new SAC Tournament record by going 17-of-18 from the free throw line. Junior guard Myson Jones added eight points and shared game-high honors with five assists.

Guard Errick Bethel led four Cobras in double figures with 31 points, with Julian Nelson chipping in 16 points. Forward Eren Moses netted 14 points and 11 boards, while Trey Marshall scored 10.

The contest featured eight ties and 13 lead changes, including four before the first media break, with Anderson holding a narrow 10-8 edge with 15:51 on the clock.

Neither team was able to build more than a six-point lead in the first 17 minutes, with the Trojans gaining a 16-10 edge on Gleaton's second 3-pointer from deep in the left corner.

The Cobras forced a pair of turnovers and battled back to even the score at 18 apiece before Hash regained the lead for AU with a pair of free throws and followed a Coker miss with a jumper to boost the Trojans' advantage back to 22-18 with less than nine minutes left in the half.

Bethel's traditional three-point play at the 7:56 mark regained the lead for the Cobras and the two teams exchanged the lead twice before Dante Samuels' two free throws gave Coker a 27-24 advantage.

After the Trojans regained a brief one-point lead, Coker answered to push back out to a double-digit, 40-30, lead on a five straight from Bethel, before Hash drained a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to trim the Cobras' lead to 40-33 at intermission.

Anderson opened the second half with a 9-2 surge to reclaim a brief 43-42 lead before Bethel answered with a 3-pointer from the left with less than 17 minutes left in the game.

Hash and Gleaton combined to score seven straight for Anderson, as the Trojans claimed a 58-53 lead that they would not relinquish and AU pushed out to their largest lead of the contest, 66-58, midway through the final half.

After AU opened its largest lead of the at 76-64, Bethel's rare four-point play with 3:28 left in the game trimmed the Trojan lead to just four, but AU countered with six unanswered to push back out to a double-digit 92-82 lead and sealed the victory by connecting on five consecutive free throws in the final moments.