HARROGATE, Tenn. --- A pair of double-digit scoring runs by Lincoln Memorial pushed the Railsplitters to an 80-71 victory over Tusculum Wednesday night in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action at Tex Turner Arena.
The Railsplitters (11-7, 7-5 SAC) scored the first 11 points of the game, then went on a 12-0 surge in the third quarter to build a lead they would not relinquish against the Pioneers (13-5, 8-4 SAC), who had a three-game winning streak come to an end after shooting 35.3 percent (24-for-68) from the field and being outrebounded by LMU by a 46-33 margin.
Rachel Griffith scored 18 points off the bench to lead the Railsplitters, while Shea Coker added 14 points and six rebounds. As a team, Lincoln Memorial shot 47.5 percent (29-for-61) from the field and received 40 points from its bench compared to 14 by Tusculum. With the win, the Railsplitters split the season series with the Pioneers and moved within a game of Tusculum for fourth place in the SAC standings with eight games remaining.
Sydney Wilson led the Pioneers with a game-high 22 points, Yolizma Cupidan scored 15 and Kasey Johnson had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers, who lost despite scoring 26 points off 23 LMU turnovers while committing just 14 turnovers of their own. Kendrea Duke added eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots off the bench for Tusculum, which had 15 offensive rebounds as a team but managed just six second-chance points.
Tusculum missed its first eight field-goal attempts as the Railsplitters built an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes, getting on the board on a basket by Duke with 5:36 left in the opening quarter. The Railsplitters stretched their lead to 20-6 on a free throw by Griffith with 1:46 to go in the quarter, but a three-pointer from Wilson and a pair of free throws by Martoria Patton helped Tusculum cut the deficit to 23-13 at the end of one quarter.
The Pioneers opened the second quarter with a run of eight straight points of their own to trim the deficit to 23-21, behind four points apiece from Wilson and Johnson. Tusculum cut the margin to a point at 29-28 on a basket by Duke with 1:15 to go in the half, and a three-point play from Cupidan capped the scoring for the first half as the Railsplitters went to the locker room with a 32-31 advantage.
Lincoln Memorial was led by Coker's nine points and four rebounds in the first half, as the team shot 43.3 percent (13-for-30) from the field and turned the ball over 13 times. Wilson had nine points to lead the Pioneers in the opening half, with Johnson adding seven points and seven rebounds. As a team, Tusculum shot 29 percent (9-for-31) from the field in the opening half.
Tusculum tied the game for the first time in the third quarter on a three-pointer by Cupidan with 8:42 left in the period, and grabbed its first and only lead at 37-36 on a three-pointer by Wilson with 7:33 to go in the quarter. However, Coker drilled a three-pointer with 6:47 remaining to put the Railsplitters on top 39-37, and Maggie Jachimczuk followed with five straight points on a layup and a three-pointer to push the Railsplitters ahead 44-37 with 5:08 to go in the quarter. A Cupidan layup and a Wilson three-pointer brought Tusculum back within 44-42 with 4:18 left in the period, but Griffith scored eight points during a 12-0 run that gave LMU a 56-42 lead in the final minute of the quarter.
Trailing 56-46 entering the final quarter, the Pioneers cut the Railsplitter lead to five at 66-61 on a three-pointer from Johnson with 6:16 to go. LMU pushed its lead back to eight points at 69-61 on a three-pointer by Ross Mathis with 5:07 to play, and Tusculum would get no closer than six points. The Railsplitters went 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final quarter and finished the game 16-for-19 at the charity stripe.
Wilson made four three-pointers as part of her 22-point effort for the Pioneers, while also adding three rebounds and three assists. Patton had seven rebounds to go along with four points in 26 minutes of action, while Mia Long battled foul trouble all night and finished with just two points, four rebounds and three assists before fouling out after 21 minutes.
Jachimczuk was perfect on four field-goal attempts for the Railsplitters and finished with nine points and five rebounds, while Mathis had eight points, six rebounds and five boards. Emily Griffith chipped in with seven points and a game-high six assists, while Qua Hines and Elizabeth Jones had eight points each off the LMU bench.
Tusculum will be home on Saturday at 2 p.m. to face Catawba at Pioneer Arena. The Indians, who are 9-3 in the SAC and a game ahead of Tusculum for third place in the conference standings, defeated the Pioneers 70-58 at home on Dec. 9 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.