ANDERSON, S.C. – A late Trojan rally was not enough as hot-shooting Lincoln Memorial slipped past Anderson, 77-74, in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action Wednesday night at the Abney Athletic Center.
Trailing by double digits with less than six minutes remaining in the contest, Anderson (9-4, 4-3 SAC) trimmed the deficit to just two with 48.5 seconds on the clock, but was unable to complete the comeback, as 15th-ranked Lincoln Memorial (10-1, 6-1 SAC) earned a split of the season series and claimed sole possession of the top spot in the league standings. The Railsplitters also avenged their lone setback of the season, suffered at the hands of the Trojans in late November.
“[Lincoln Memorial] executed well and they made plays,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “To get outplayed and outrebounded like we did and still have a chance to win was a positive.”
Senior guard Chandler Hash scored a team-high 25 points, including 20 in the opening half, while junior guard Myson Jones added 14 points. Senior guard CJ Gleaton, who has reached double figures in four of the last five games, tallied 13 points and shared team-high rebounding honors with five. Freshman Tony Dargan netted a season-high seven points and pulled down five rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
LMU forward Vincent Bailey led all scorers with 24 points, while teammate Lorenza Ross chipped in 17 points. Redshirt junior Keenan Peterson posted a double-double with 12 points and a dozen boards. Redshirt freshman Luquon Choice posted 10 points and five rebounds.
A slow start proved costly for Anderson, as the Railsplitters went 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) from the field, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in the opening nine minutes of the contest to build a 25-8 advantage. On the other end of the court, the Trojans connected on just three of their first 10 shots.
But the AU defense stepped up and the offense came alive over the next five-plus minutes, as the Trojans posted a 12-2 run and the Railsplitters came up empty on eight of their next nine possessions. Gleaton sparked the rally with a traditional three-point play to pull AU within 25-11, as the Trojans scored nine unanswered points as part of the run. Junior center Chris Ross capped the outburst with one-of-two from the line to pull Anderson within 27-20 with 5:49 left in the first half.
Lincoln Memorial rebuilt the double-digit advantage and held a 40-33 halftime lead after Hash drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Gleaton opened the second frame with another traditional three-point play to trim the LMU lead to just four, but it was as close as the Trojans would get until the final two minutes of the contest. Bailey’s layup midway through the final half gave the Railsplitters their largest lead of the stanza, at 60-46, but the Trojans again countered with eight unanswered points. Sophomore center Steven Faust notched an old-fashioned three-point play, with Dargan knocking down a trey and DJ McGowan finishing the surge with a jumper.
The Trojans stayed within striking distance and chipped away at yet another double-digit deficit with Gleaton’s driving layup with 48.5 seconds remaining pulling AU within 71-69. The Trojans nearly came up with a defensive stop on LMU’s next possession, but the Railsplitters were able to get a timeout and coming out of the break, Ross connected on his third trey of the night from the right side to push the LMU edge back to five with 14.8 seconds left.
Hash’s two free throws five seconds later were offset by Lincoln Memorial’s 3-of-4 from the line over the next few moments and Myson Jones’ long 3-pointer with less than five ticks on the clock set the margin at 77-74. The Trojans sent LMU’s Paul Woodson to the line with 0.7 seconds left and the strategy paid dividends when the redshirt freshman misfired on both ends of a double bonus, but Gleaton’s desperation heave at the buzzer was off the mark.
Anderson will look to get back in the win column when the Trojans play host to SAC-newcomer Coker on Saturday in the first meeting between the two squads since the 2009-10 season when they were members of Conference Carolinas. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Abney Athletic Center.