Railsplitters squeak by Virginia-Wise with second-half surge 87-77

WISE, Va. - Powered by a career-high 20 points from Julius Brown, the Railsplitters surged in the second half to take down the Virginia-Wise Cavaliers 87-77 on Saturday afternoon at the Prior Convocation Center.

Lincoln Memorial (3-2) was unable to get much separation from a determined Virginia-Wise team in the first half, but a few timely runs sprinkled throughout the second half helped the Railsplitters move past the Cavaliers (3-3) for the sixth straight time and string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

"Credit to our guys for finding a way to win despite playing 30-plus minutes of uninspired and disinterested basketball," said head coach Josh Schertz. "The biggest challenge for us moving forward is to start playing with some spirit, passion and togetherness. Once we get that going we can deal with all the various technical issues that hinder our ability to execute on either end of the floor."

Five players combined to account for 81 of the Railsplitters' 87 points.

Julius Brown led that effort by pouring in a team-leading and career-best 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and a perfect 4-for-4 mark at the free-throw line. Alex Dahling dropped in six three-pointers to fall just two points shy of matching his career-high mark with 19 points to go along with five rebounds. Kamaran Calhoun had 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while Anthony Brown fell an assist shy of a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Cornelius Taylor chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Calhoun scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, while Julius Brown accounted for 11 of his 20 in the second half.

Much like LMU, four players did most of the heavy lifting offensively for the Cavaliers as the quartet of Michal Seals, Briggs Parris, Cameron Whiteside and Eric Okenchi scored 64 of the team's 77 points.

Seals scored a game-high 21 points with seven assists and six rebounds, while Okenchi tallied 16 points while leading all players with 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Parris went 4-for-6 from three-point range to contribute 16 points, while Whiteside had 11 points and six rebounds.

Neither the Railsplitters or Cavaliers lit it up offensively as Lincoln Memorial shot 40 percent overall and 26 percent from three-point territory. Virginia-Wise, meanwhile, shot 38 percent and went 8-for-18 from the three-point line.

Both teams struggled mightily on the offensive end in a first half that featured 10 lead changes and eight ties combined. The Railsplitters went 12-for-37 from the field for a 32 percent clip, but were able to knock down five triples and go 8-for-10 from the charity stripe to bolster their offensive output, while Virginia-Wise shot 33 percent and only went 2-for-4 at the free-throw line.

A three from Dahling and a bucket from Bryan Hart had the Railsplitters in front 5-2 early, however, a quick 8-2 spurt gave the Cavs a 10-7 lead on Parris' second three with 14:53 left in the half.

A layup from Kaeleb Carter kept UVA-Wise in front 16-13 until Julius Brown buried a three and Anthony Brown scored on the next possession to put the Railsplitters back in front 18-16 with just over nine minutes remaining.

Lincoln Memorial would go nearly four minutes without a field goal over the next passage of play, but Calhoun went 5-for-6 at the free-throw line during that stretch to keep the game tied until a jumper by Seals put the Cavs back in the lead at 25-23 with 5:40 on the clock.

The lead changed hands twice over the next stretch until Dahling connected on threes on back-to-back possessions to give the Railsplitters the largest lead for either team in the half at 37-32 with less than a minute left.

Whiteside scored on the ensuing UVA-Wise possession while the Railsplitters came up empty on their final possession to send the two teams into the half with LMU leading 37-34.

Lincoln Memorial continued to nurse a slim lead early in the second half until Dahling drilled another three-pointer to jump-start a 7-0 run that gave the Railsplitters a 49-40 lead with 15:29 left.

After the Cavs closed the gap to four over the next stretch, Anthony Brown sparked another 7-0 LMU run with five points to push the Railsplitters out to a double-digit lead at 56-45.

Virginia-Wise again answered, this time with a 7-0 run of their own to make it a three-point game with less than 10 minutes to play. However, the Railsplitters made another well-timed run by scoring nine unanswered points, a stretch that was capped by a thunderous dunk from Cameron Henry that put the visitors in front 70-57 with 6:55 to play.

The Cavs made one final push to cut the deficit to seven on a triple from Seals, but the Railsplitters churned out a 15-5 flurry - powered by eight points from Calhoun - to take their largest lead of the game at 85-68 with 2:25 left on the clock.

A 9-2 closing run helped Virginia-Wise trim the final deficit to 10 points.

Quick Hits

- The Railsplitters shot 47 percent from the field in the second half and led for the entirety of the final 20 minutes.

- Lincoln Memorial outrebounded Virginia-Wise 50-47, but the Cavs scored seven second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds.

- The Railsplitters set a season-high mark for free-throws made (21) and free-throws attempted (24).

- Lincoln Memorial failed to crack the 100-point mark against Virginia-Wise for the first time since December 2013. The Railsplitters had scored at least 105 points versus the Cavaliers in each of the previous four meetings.

- The Railsplitters handed out 21 assists while committing only 12 turnovers.

Up Next

Lincoln Memorial opens South Atlantic Conference play on Wednesday, November 28 with a matchup against the rival Carson-Newman Eagles inside of Tex Turner Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. in Harrogate, Tenn.