A long drought by LMU from the field lasting almost eight minutes proved to be disastrous as Wingate rolled off an 18-2 run over that stretch and held off a late rally to end LMU's -season 70-61 Saturday afternoon.
Wingate advances to Sunday's championship game of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament, where they face top-seeded Anderson, who defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 77-65 in the other semifinal game.
LMU (16-14) and Wingate (22-7) had gone toe-to-toe for the majority of the contest, with neither team leading by more than four points until a three-pointer by Lindsay Proffitt sparked a run that saw the Lady Railsplitters take a seven-point lead late in the half.
The third quarter was back-and-forth with three ties before Wingate took a 35-29 lead with 2:35 left in the period. Maggie Jachimczuk then got the old-fashioned three-point play when she was fouled as she hit the shot and converted the free throw, which sparked a comeback by the Lady Railsplitters which culminated in Rachel Griffith also getting a basket and free throw with nine seconds left to take a 43-42 lead into the final stanza.
The Lady Railsplitters again put the lead back to four on two occasions and led 50-46 with 8:04 remaining after a Rachel Griffith layup. Apart from two free throws by Jachimczuk, they would not score again until Proffitt buried a long three-pointer with 31 seconds left in the game. During that stretch LMU, who actually shot 37.5 percent in the fourth quarter, saw Wingate shoot a blistering 70 percent from the field to grab a 12-point lead. Proffitt would hit two three-pointers along with another by Rachel Griffith to cut into the lead, but the Bulldogs held on for the 70-61 win.
LMU finished the game hitting 33.3 percent from the field and 80 percent from free throw range, while Wingate hit 48.9 percent for the game from the field and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs out-rebounded LMU 35-33.
Emily Griffith led LMU in her final game with 14 points, while Rachel scored 12 in her final appearance in the Blue and Gray. Shermeria Quarles had 10 points and a game high nine rebounds.
The loss ends the careers of five Lady Railsplitters, including three seniors who made their own special mark on the program during their four seasons as they were also the first recruits out of high school signed by Coach Krystal Evans.
Kai Wesemann came to LMU in the fall of 2017 to play volleyball and walked onto the basketball team late in the season last year. Wesemann, is currently the only three-sport athlete at LMU as she also plays beach volleyball. She has another season of basketball eligibility remaining, but has decided to move on after she graduates in May.
Sydney Duggins, who is a three-year player who has decided to forgo her senior season and attend physical therapy/occupational therapy school, ends her career with 357 points and 190 rebounds. For her career, she hit 40.6 percent of her three-pointers.
The three seniors have left their mark both on and off the court as they have been crowd favorites over the past four years.
Dasia Maxwell finishes her career with 464 points, 273 rebounds, 92 assists and 82 steals. Her last points came on a layup with 8:48 remaining in the game.
The other two seniors had already made their mark on the LMU program just by being born as they are identical twins. As far as records show, LMU has had identical twins in the past, including two sets in cross country, and they have had twins on the roster before. But the Griffith sisters are the first known identical twins in basketball at LMU.
Rachel Griffith ends her career with 892 points, 225 rebounds, 210 assists, 135 steals, and 18 blocks. She missed several games last season due to an injury, which almost certainly cost her the chance of breaking the 1,000-point mark. She ranks eighth in career free throw percentage (36.2 percent), tenth in three-point attempts (276), eleventh in made three-pointers (100), twelfth in free throw percentage (74.3), 18th in steals, 20th in made free throws (208), and 22nd in assists. She was also named Second Team All-SAC this season. With her final basket, a three-pointer with 19 seconds left, she becomes the eleventh Lady Railsplitter to hit 100 career three-pointers. She joins former teammates Shea Coker and Ross Mathis in that club, as those two achieved the century mark last season.
Emily Griffith leaves a large mark on the record books as she has 1,042 career points, 301 rebounds, 245 assists, 158 steals and 39 blocks. She ranks 19th in points, 44th in rebounds, 13th in steals, 17th in assists, 18th in made free throws (220), 20th in made field goals (400), 23rd in blocks, and 24th in field goal percentage (43.7). She also has tied the program's single-game steals record with eight. Emily was named Astroturf SAC Player of the Week this year and Second Team All-SAC this season. The final two points of her career came on a layup with 6:43 left in the third quarter.
When asked about the five players who played their final game in the post-game press conference, Coach Evans replied, ""I'm really proud and honored to have coached all these young women during their time here. I just wish we had more time."