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Pioneers fall 67-46 to No. 2 LMU in SAC semifinal, end season at 19-13

Pioneers fall 67-46 to No. 2 LMU in SAC semifinal, end season at 19-13

GREENVILLE, S.C. --- Devin Whitfield scored a game-high 18 points, while Courvoisier McCauley tallied 14 points and nine rebounds to lead top-seeded Lincoln Memorial University to a 67-46 victory over No. 4 seed Tusculum University in a semifinal   contest of the 2020 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Championship.  The semifinal and final round is being held at Timmons Arena on the campus of Furman University

With the victory, the Railsplitters advance to Sunday's championship game where they will face No. 2 Queens University of Charlotte, who eliminated Catawba College Saturday night.

LMU, who is ranked second nationally in NCAA Division II, records its 31st consecutive victory while the Pioneers end their season with a 19-13 overall record, while advancing to the SAC semifinal for the first time since 2011.

Tusculum remained within striking distance of the heavily favored Railsplitters as the score was tied five times with three lead changes.  LMU led by five late in the first half as Cameron Henry capped a 5-0 run with a layup as the Splitters led 18-13 with 5:46 left in the period.  TU got back-to-back baskets by senior Tariq Jenkins as the Pioneers trailed by one (18-17) with five minutes left.

But LMU closed out the half with a 14-2 run, including a steal and layup on a TU inbounds pass after a made LMU bucket as the Railsplitters carried a 32-19 lead into the locker room.

LMU extended the run to 19-2 as Devin Whitfield opened with a triple and McCauley, the SAC Player of the Year, converted a jumper as LMU led 37-19 one minute into the second half.

Tusculum got a three-pointer from Caleb Hodnett and a jumper from Dillon Smith as TU trailed 37-24 with 17:31 remaining.  LMU scored 10 unanswered points over a four-minute span to push the lead out to 47-24 with 14:02 left.  The Railsplitters pushed the lead out to as much as a 25-point margin (59-34) with 6:32 to go.  Tusculum answered with a 9-2 spurt to trim the deficit to 61-43 after Trenton Gibson's triple, but that would be as close as the Pioneers would get.

LMU finished the game shooting 44 percent (25-of-57), while the Pioneers were limited to just 32 percent shooting (19-of-59).  LMU out-rebounded Tusculum by a 43-35 margin and forced 16 TU turnovers, resulting into 11 points. Tusculum forced LMU into 15 miscues, but could only converted those into seven points.

Jenkins finished the game with 13 points in his collegiate finale.  Dillon Smith accounted for nine points and four rebounds in his final game, while graduate student Caleb Hodnett finished with seven points and five rebounds in his last TU contest.

TU junior Brandon Mitchell accounted for four points, four rebounds and four blocked shots in his 18 minutes off the bench.  He finishes the season with a school single-season record 62 blocked shots. His 250 rebounds this season are the sixth-most in program history.

Tusculum's 19 wins this year marks a three-win improvement from last season and tied for the fifth-most victory in school history.

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