WISE, Ky (WYMT)- Shaking off a sluggish start to turn the game around entirely over the final 10 minutes, the Lincoln Memorial University women's basketball team earned a gritty road victory over the University of Virginia at Wise on Wednesday night at the Prior Convocation Center.
Overcoming a 20% shooting performance across the entire first half, LMU (9-12, 8-9) shell-shocked the Cavaliers (10-13, 6-11) during a 17-4 run to open up the fourth period, turning what was a 12-point deficit into a 65-59 triumph.
While the night may have ended in celebratory fashion for the Lady Railsplitters, it was anything but that over the first stanza, wherein UVA-Wise outgained LMU 18-8. During the first 10 minutes of action, Lincoln Memorial only connected on three field goals to fall behind by double digits.
LMU spent the next two quarters trying to make up the ground they lost in the lackluster start, and slowly but surely, they did just that.
Junior forward Addi Kirkpatrick connected on a pair of post buckets to cut the lead to 19-13 midway through the second, although the Cavs' Caitlyn Ross kept the Lady Railsplitters at bay, scoring 11 of her 17 points over the next five minutes.
A post lay-in by junior Maggie Jachimczuk with 34 seconds left in the half brought the score to 29-20 at the intermission. The Russell, Kentucky product secured seven of her 11 points over the first two periods.
With neither side able to gain the advantage for the majority of the third, senior Shermeria Quarles and freshman Lauren Flowers scored the stanza's final four points on a layup and a pair of free throws to make it 46-38 entering the final frame.
That's when the Lady Railsplitters took over.
LMU ended up with a 30 percent shooting clip over the entire night, although they came out scorching to open up the final quarter. With 6:35 remaining in regulation, redshirt-sophomore Sydney Newsome stole a Wise pass at midcourt, sailing across the floor for an easy layup to give LMU their first lead of the evening at 49-48.
Since they fell behind by their largest margin of 12 at the 2:43 mark of the third, Lincoln Memorial ventured on an 18-5 run to claim a lead they would hold onto for nearly the rest of the game.
The Cavaliers briefly took the lead back on a post layup by Nia Vanzant on the next possession. Once Flowers sank two free throws with just over four minutes left to jump back in front, LMU would never relinquish the lead again.
A 20-foot jumper by Newsome with 2:17 left extended LMU's lead to five at 57-52, and from there, the Lady Railsplitters made a handful of clutch shots from the charity stripe to preserve the lead and pull off a season sweep over the newest team in the South Atlantic Conference.
Flowers paced LMU with a game-high 18 points in the victory, collecting 14 of them at the free throw line in 16 attempts. Redshirt-sophomore Lexi Kiser stuffed the stat sheet on Wednesday, picking up 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Newsome added eight points along with five rebounds in Lincoln Memorial's come-from-behind win. All in all, the Lady Railsplitters matched their season-high for points in a single quarter across the fourth, with 27. LMU also hit that mark in the second frame of their win over Mars Hill in Harrogate back on January 15th.
Despite only shooting 30% (18-60) overall and 17% (3-18) from beyond the arc, Lincoln Memorial pulled out the victory largely thanks to their efforts on the glass, outrebounding the Cavaliers 50-38.
LMU outperformed UVA-Wise in bench scoring by a wide 18-3 margin, while only turning the ball over 13 times in route to the win.
Heading into last Saturday's 66-58 triumph over Wingate, the Lady Railsplitters were on the brink of potentially sitting on the outside looking in across the SAC standings. On that date, LMU was tied with the Cavaliers for the No. 8 slot, the final spot allowed for entry into the postseason conference tournament.
Since last weekend, LMU has won back-to-back games over the Bulldogs and the Cavs, having now bested Wise for the second straight time. In the two teams' first meeting on January 8th in Harrogate, Lincoln Memorial set a new season-high in points with 76 on their way to a 14-point win.
This time around, it was much more dramatic. But the result stayed the same.
The Lady Railsplitters return to Tex Turner Arena this Saturday, February 15th, for the second conference meeting against Newberry College at 2:00 p.m. LMU will be in search of its third consecutive win, and will look to avenge their lopsided 76-54 defeat at the hands of the Wolves back on January 4th.