GREENVILLE, S.C. – Using a pair of runs in each half, top-seeded and 13th-ranked Lincoln Memorial held off third-seeded Anderson, 76-71, to claim the 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship Sunday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
Lincoln Memorial (27-2) also claimed the regular-season championship, becoming the first team to win both to claim both the regular season and conference tournament titles since the Railsplitters accomplished the feat in 2011. LMU was making its second consecutive SAC Tournament Championship appearance and earned its second title in four years.
Anderson (22-9), bidding for its first South Atlantic Conference Tournament title in its second championship appearance in three years, will be looking for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament’s Southeast Region, with the Railsplitters earning the league’s automatic bid to next week’s tourney.
LMU forward Vincent Bailey led the Railsplitters with 19 points, including 12 in the first half, and pulled down nine rebounds. Guard Tim Pierce added 15 points, while guard Luquon Choice chipped in 14 points.
Anderson senior guard Chandler Hash posted a game-high 32 points, including 19 in the first half, with fellow guard CJ Gleaton tossing in 23 points and grabbing a team-best six boards.
The Railsplitters scored the first five points of the contest, but the Trojans countered with a 17-2 run, taking their first lead of the game on a driving bank shot from Gleaton. The 6-foot-3 guard helped fuel the surge with eight points, while Hash added seven.
LMU’s Bailey snapped the run with a jumper at the 11:51 mark and guard Curtis Webb, along with Pierce, followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the top-seeded Railsplitters back within 17-15 midway through the opening half.
Bailey’s traditional three-point play just prior to the third media break, part of a 23-2 outburst, gave LMU its first lead since the 15:20 mark, at 22-19, and the Railsplitters pushed out to a 30-19 lead with just more than five minutes left in the half.
Hash ended the outburst with a pair of deep treys and trimmed the deficit to five with 4:09 left in the opening frame, while LMU pushed back out to a 33-25 lead before AU responded with seven of the final nine points of the half, as the Railsplitters took a 35-32 edge to the locker rooms.
Hash opened the second frame with back-to-back 3s to give the Trojans a brief 37-35 advantage, as the lead changed hands three times in the opening moments of the final stanza half.
Behind Bailey and guard Lorenza Ross, LMU opened a pair of eight-point leads and built an 11-point advantage midway through the half on Bailey’s lay-in.
AU trimmed the LMU lead to 60-53 on Gleaton’s drive with less than six minutes on the clock, but Curtis Million answered on the other end with a traditional 3-point play to rebuild LU’s double-digit lead.
Anderson closed within four on Jones’ 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining and after LMU connected on just 2-of-4 from the line, Gleaton drained a trey from the right corner to get the Trojans within 74-71, but the late rally was not enough, as LMU held off the Trojans by grabbing offensive rebounds.
2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference All-Tournament Team
Chandler Hash, Anderson (MVP)
CJ Gleaton, Anderson
Tim Pierce, Lincoln Memorial
Vincent Bailey, Lincoln Memorial
Errick Bethel, Coker