ANDERSON, S.C. – Lincoln Memorial junior Rhondi Hackett's putback off a Cornelius Taylor missed 3-point attempt with less than a second on the clock lifted preseason South Atlantic Conference-favorite Lincoln Memorial past Anderson, 102-101, in double overtime in men's basketball action Wednesday night at the Abney Athletic Center.
Anderson slipped to 5-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play with the heartbreaker, while Lincoln Memorial improved to 6-3 and 3-1 with its fifth win in six outings and bounced back from its worst loss in a decade last weekend at Queens.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior guard Gage Ellis poured in a career-high, game-high 37 points before fouling out with 39 second left in the second extra period. The Greenville, S.C., native was 7-of-14 from the field and connected on a career-best 21-of-23 free throws on the night. He also pulled down seven rebounds and swiped a pair of steals. Junior guard Shawn Benard and senior forward Jeremy Bouton each added 17 points apiece, with Benard grabbing seven rebounds and sharing game-high honors by dishing out four assists, notching three blocks and swiping two steals. Bouton also recorded six rebounds. Freshman forward Satchel Hester netted a career-high 14 points and pulled down a career-best eight rebounds, with senior Randall Shaw coming off the bench to score eight points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Bouton dropped in the first basket of the night, but the Railsplitters countered by scored seven straight points over the next two minutes to claim an early 7-2 lead at the 17:26 mark. The Trojans stayed close and knotted the score at seven and again at nine apiece, before LMU's Alex Dahling dropped in a 3-pointer to boost the Railslpitter's advantage to three.
But Shaw ignited an 11-2 outburst with a pair of free throws that saw AU claim a 20-14 lead midway through the opening frame. Bouton sandwiched a jumper and a 3-pointer around a layup by Shaw to fuel the run. The Trojans held the lead and fended off each challenge by LMU through the remainder of the half.
The Railsplitters cut AU's lead to just 28-27 with more than six minutes on the clock, but AU reeled off 12 unanswered points in less than three minutes to stake its largest lead of the game, at 40-27. LMU responded with a 10-2 surge to set the halftime score at 42-37.
The Trojans continued to maintain their advantage through the first six minutes of the second stanza, until LMU strung together six consecutive points to claim their first lead, at 51-49, with 13:05 remaining in the frame. Ellis regained the lead for AU on the strength of a traditional three-point play and the Black and Gold pushed out to a 60-53 lead at the 7:43 mark.
LMU chipped away as the Trojans endured a scoring drought and the Railsplitters evened the score at 63 apiece, with the final nail-biting 4 ½ minutes featuring six ties and six lead changes, with neither team able to build more than a three-point advantage.
Ellis snapped a 71-71 deadlock with a pair of free throws with 27 seconds on the clock and Dahling missed on a potential game-winning trey with 14 seconds left, but LMU's Anthony Brown gathered the offensive board and dropped in a layup with eight ticks left and AU was unable to convert in the final moments.
LMU took the early advantage in the first extra period, but AU countered to take an 84-81 edge on two Ellis free throws. Brown connected on a 3-pointer 12 seconds later to even the score for the 13th time of the night, with Ellis answering on the other end for AU and the Trojans claimed an 87-85 lead on a free throw by Bouton. Dahling followed with a driving layup with less than 10 seconds left to send the game into the second overtime.
The Railsplitters scored the first six points, but AU refused to surrender and stayed within striking distance, with Kevin Simpson's trey pulling the Trojans within 97-95 with 41 seconds left. LMU edged back to a four-point lead on two freebies by Dahling, while Benard kept AU within a deuce by dropping in a layup.
With AU forced to foul, the Railsplitters missed three of their next four free throw attempts, while Benard pulled the Trojans within 100-99 on a pair of free throws and gave AU a 101-100 lead on another pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds on the clock. Following a 30-second timeout, Taylor misfired on his potential game-winner, but Hackett tapped back the miss and drew a foul in the process. He misfired on the ensuing free throw attempt, but there wasn't enough time for the Trojans to get off a shot at the buzzer.
STAT OF THE GAME
There were 67 fouls whistled on the night, including 52 in the second half and overtime periods.
• It was AU's first overtime game since the 2016-17 season and the first two-overtime contest since the 2012-13 campaign.
• The contest featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes, including two in the final overtime.
• The game featured two of the league's top four scorers, as the Trojans' Gage Ellis was third in the league with his 20.6 points per game average, while LMU junior guard Cornelius Taylor was averaging 19.6 points per contest. Ellis finished with his career-high 37 points, while Taylor notched a team-high 23 points.
• Five Trojans fouled out of the contest – A pair of Railsplitters were disqualified on fouls.
• LMU won the rebounding battle, 57-44.
• AU forced 13 turnovers, while committing 10 miscues.
• The Trojans, who entered the contest leading the SAC in free throw accuracy, have connected on 99-of-116 free throw attempts over the last five games (85.3%), including 37-of-45 (82.2%) in tonight's game.
• Randall Shaw has connected on 12 straight free throws.
• Gage Ellis had connected on 25 consecutive free throws, stretching back to last Saturday's win over Johnson C. Smith, before misfiring on a free throw early in the first overtime.
Anderson continues its five-game homestand when Lenoir-Rhyne invades the Abney Center on Saturday. Tip-off versus the Bears is slated for 4 p.m.