CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Trevon Shaw buried the go-ahead three-pointer with 75 seconds left in regulation and the No. 5 Railsplitters (15-1, 9-0 SAC) held on to defeat the No. 1 nationally ranked Queens Royals (16-1, 8-1 SAC) in a rematch of last season's Sweet 16 on Saturday evening at the Levine Center. Less than a month after losing to the previous No. 1 team, Northwest Missouri State, Lincoln Memorial picks up the first win over the nation's top-ranked team in program history.
The Railsplitters struggled mightily at the start and found themselves trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half. However, Lincoln Memorial used a timely run to end the first stanza and a strong second-half defensive effort to take over the top spot in the South Atlantic Conference standings and move into pole position to host the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional in March.
"I am really proud of our team tonight," said LMU head coach Josh Schertz. "It was one of those night where it would have been easy to not continue to bring it on every possession defensively. For most of the night their best offense was our offense. I thought in the first half we could have gotten knocked out. I told them at halftime we had given up nine offensive rebounds and had 11 turnovers so we were incredibly fortunate to only be down three.
"We knew if we could cut some of those numbers in half we'd have a good chance of winning the game, unfortunately we couldn't do that with our turnovers. I think that ultimately our guys made just enough plays to win the game against a really good team. I think we benefited; they missed some shots, some open looks. But I do think we guarded them hard and at least maybe that had a cumulative effect at the end of the game."
Shaw scored 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including what proved to be the game-winner, to lead the Railsplitters to victory. Dorian Pinson added 16 points five rebounds and two assists, and Emanuel Terry posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while going 8-for-12 at the free-throw line. Cornelius Taylor chipped in 11 points and five assists, while Josh Odem kicked in a pair of three-pointers to score eight points.
Lincoln Memorial's starting unit accounted for 66 of the team's 73 points, as Kamaran Calhoun scored all seven points attributed to the Railsplitters' bench.
The Railsplitters overcame an uncharacteristic 24 turnovers, which are the program's most since matching that number at Newberry in February 2017. Queens scored 23 points off of those turnovers. Lincoln Memorial also battled foul trouble throughout the game, as Pinson fouled out while Odem, Shaw and Terry finished with four apiece. Despite that, the Railsplitters made 18 free throws compared to 13 for the Royals.
Queens was paced by Shaun Willett's game-high 19 points, while Daniel Carr scored 14 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Ike Agusi added 12 points and five assists but finished just 3-of-14 from the field. The Railsplitters kept leading scorer Todd Withers in check, limiting the big man to seven points and eight rebounds over 29 foul-plagued minutes.
The Railsplitters never quite settled into a rhythm in the first half, turning the ball over 11 times and shooting just 38.5 percent from the field. That did, however, include a 6-of-12 mark from three-point range.
The Royals were all over Lincoln Memorial early and raced out to a 15-7 lead on a fast-break layup from Carr with 13:40 left in the half. Three-pointers from Taylor and Pinson trimmed the deficit to 19-15 two minutes later, but an 8-0 flurry extend Queens' lead to 27-15 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the frame.
Queens eventually built as large as a 14-point lead at 34-20 with 5:44 remaining in the half, but Lincoln Memorial began to steadily chip away at that lead from that moment on. A pair of free throws from Terry made it a single-digit deficit at 34-26 and, after a bucket from Solomon Smith at the 3:10 mark, the Railsplitters scored seven unanswered points to head into the locker room trailing just 36-33.
Lincoln Memorial made its way back into the game on the defensive end, holding Queens to 38.9 percent shooting and a 5-for-15 mark from three in the half.
The Railsplitters' run bled into the start of the second half as Terry scored and Shaw knocked down three free throws to give Lincoln Memorial a 38-36 lead. A bucket from Calhoun at the 16:48 mark then pushed the Railsplitters out to a 43-38 lead, which proved to match the largest lead of the half for either team.
The two teams went back and forth the rest of the way. Queens answered after falling behind by five, using two free throws from Agusi and a basket by Carr to take a 51-46 lead with just under 13 minutes remaining.
Schertz then rolled the dice, bringing Pinson back into the game with four fouls. The senior forward promptly scored seven straight points for LMU to tie the game back up at 53 apiece at the 11-minute mark.
Less than three minutes later, Pinson scored again to give the Railsplitters a 61-57 cushion, but Lincoln Memorial was unable to push it any further as Queens fought back to tie it at 63-63 on a jumper from Smith with 5:52 to go.
After a nearly two-minute scoring drought from both sides, Carr drained two free throws that were answered by two freebies from Terry to keep the game knotted at 65-65. The Royals then took the lead briefly at 67-65 on a layup by Willett.
The lead changed hands three more times over the next passage of play until Carr went 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to tie it up once again at 70-70 with 90 seconds left to play.
That's when Shaw gave the Railsplitters the lead for good, burying his fourth three-pointer of the contest to put Lincoln Memorial on top, 73-70, with 1:14 left on the clock.
The Railsplitters turned the ball over twice and missed three free throws in the final 30 seconds, but Queens could only muster one basket off of those miscues. The Royals had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Agusi's three-point try missed the mark to send Lincoln Memorial out of Charlotte with the win.
All told, the game featured 12 ties and nine lead changes. Lincoln Memorial turned the game largely on the defensive end, limiting Queens to 40 percent shooting in the second half, including a 2-for-11 mark from three. For the game, the Royals shot just 39 percent and went 7-for-26 from three.