Last-second shot lifts Lincoln Memorial to win
No. 2 LINCOLN MEMORIAL 82, No. 7 UNC PEMBROKE 80
In a quarterfinal matchup in the Division II NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional, the Lincoln Memorial men’s basketball team trailed most of the way against UNC Pembroke in spite of being the higher seed.
Playing at the USC Aiken Convocation Center, the No. 2 Railsplitters rallied with a noutstanding second-half shooting performance to oust the seventh-seeded Braves 82-80. Lincoln Memorial hit 70 percent (19 of 27) of its shots after halftime. None was bigger than Lorenza Ross’ basket with 4.3 seconds to play.
The score was tied at 80-all when Ross came off a curl to the left side of the floor and caught a pass. He continued toward the baseline and basket, but when he was challenged, Ross lofted a floater that tickled the rim before dropping through to give Lincoln Memorial (25-5) a two point lead, matching their largest edge of the game.
“Lorenza made a bunch of big-time plays down the stretch,” Railsplitters head coach Josh Schertz said of his sophomore guard. “He’s the best on our team at getting his own shot, and putting the ball in Zo’s hands and letting it ride has been good for us.”
The only problem by the basket by Ross, who finished with a team-high 20 points, was it left enough time on the clock for UNC Pembroke (22-10) to get one last good shot off. That’s exactly what happened.
In spite of having to go the length of the court, Braves senior guard Shahmel Brackett got the ball and streaked down the floor launching a potential game-tying shot with his feet on the 3-point line. Brackett, the hottest player in the second half when he scored 16 of his game-high 27 points, didn’t have the range on this high-speed attempt. The shot was short, hitting off the front of the rim allowing Lincoln Memorial to persevere for the win and advance to the regional semifinals where it will face Barton. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m.
Lincoln Memorial hit 60 percent of its field-goal attempts (33-for-55) and UNCP wasn’t far behind at 51 percent (27-for-53).
The Railsplitters actually outrebounded the Braves, 27-23, in spite of the large presence of 6-foot-9 George Blakeney.
The senior forward was the dominant factor in the first half when he had 10 points and six rebounds. He was a factor on both ends of the floor, clogging the lane, attacking the glass, constantly drawing multiple defenders and creating open looks for his teammates. Schertz made a tactical adjustment at halftime and Blakeney was limited, finishing the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 3 BARTON 81, No. 6 MONTEVALLO 73
In the first half of the Southeast Regional quarterfinal game between Barton and Montevallo, the game might as well have been a one-on-one contest between the Bulldogs’ Gerald Boston and the Falcons’ Troran Brown.
Boston had 24 at halftime to Brown’s 15, but Barton, the No. 3 seed only led by a point, 37-36. Neither player faltered much in the second half, but the emergence of Bulldogs’ guard Chris Flemmings provided the difference as Barton pulled away and ended Montevallo’s (20-10) season.
After going scoreless in the first half, Flemmings scored 15 points down the stretch. All of his baskets came from beyond the 3-point arc, as he went 5-for-6 from long distance in the second half to propel Barton (22-7) to regional semifinal game against Lincoln Memorial.
Flemmings’ emergence and the Bulldogs’ ability to hit free throws in the closing moments were too much for the Falcons to overcome. They never had an answer for Boston, who finished with a game-best 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. With the score 72-70 in favor of Barton, Boston drilled a clutch 3-pointer with 1:54 to play and it was never a single possession game the rest of the way. Barton added a team-high seven rebounds, four steals and three assists in the win.
Brown led Montevallo with 26 points, while teammate Marvin Fitzgerald scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. Silas Mills added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Falcons.
No. 4 WINGATE 65, No. 5 LIMESTONE 60
In a game that was close throughout, fourth-seeded Wingate executed just a little bit better than its counterpart from Limestone, pulling away in the closing moments for a victory over the No. 5 seed.
The Bulldogs (22-8) shot 50 percent from the field (27-for-54), compared to 38 percent for the Saints (21-9). They forced 14 Limestone turnovers, resulting in 18 points and an edge in fastbreak points. Most significantly, Wingate dominated inside, outscoring Limestone 38-18 in the paint to set up a matchup with USC Aiken in a Southeast Regional semifinal game today. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Odell Turner and Ryan Daye scored 14 points apiece to lead the Bulldogs, with Turner also grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Eddie Lewis came off the Wingate bench with 11 more points and Deion Turman contributed 10 to the victory.
Limestone’s Charles Blue led all scorers with 17 points and added seven rebounds to keep the Saints neck and neck with the Bulldogs. Mike Barrett and PJ Foster scored 14 points apiece for Limestone.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.