Strong first half paces LMU to 90-68 win at Tusculum

Cory Fagan scored a game-high 20 points against Lincoln Memorial
Cory Fagan scored a game-high 20 points against Lincoln Memorial

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Cornelius Taylor paced six players in double figures with his 18 points to lead the Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team to a 90-68 victory at Tusculum College Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.

The Railsplitters (13-4, 8-3 SAC) poured in 14 three-pointers including five from Hunter Spaw and four apiece from Taylor and Luquon Choice as LMU posts its 19th straight win over the Pioneers (7-9, 4-7 SAC).  LMU held the Pioneers to a season-low 68 points, while limiting TC to just two 3-point field goals, eight under the team's average.

Tusculum senior Cory Fagan led all scorers with his 20 points as he shot 8-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the charity stripe. One of those field goals was a three-pointer, extending his school-record streak to 32 consecutive games with a trey.

LMU finished the game shooting 47.8 percent, including a sizzling 20-of-35 in the opening half (57.1%) as the defending NCAA Division II national runner-up raced out to a 50-28 lead at halftime. The Railsplitters used a 15-4 run in the first half to take a 27-12 lead following a Taylor three-pointer with 6:56 left in the period.

Tusculum trimmed the deficit to a dozen before LMU went on an 8-2 spurt to up its advantage to 37-19.  The Pioneers got two free throws each from Kendall Patterson and Zach Hartle to get back to 37-23 with 3:14 on the clock.  But LMU closed out the period with a 13-5 run sparked by Spaw who poured in eight of his 14 first half markers during the run as LMU led by 22 at the intermission.

The Pioneers would get as close as 16 points in the second half as TC opened the first five minutes on a 12-6 run, including six points from Fagan during the spurt., But LMU pushed the lead back out to the 20's for most of the second half and were up by as many as 30 on two occasions, including 90-60 with 3:13 left in the game.  Tusculum scored the final eight points of the game, including to provide the final scoring margin.

Spaw finished with 17 points off the bench as he went 5-of-9 from three-point territory.  Chris Perry added 15 points and six rebounds, while Dorian Penson came within a pair of rebounds of a triple-double as he accounted for 15 points, 10 assists and eight boards. He also led all players with four steals for the Railsplitters.  Choice posted 12 points and eight rebounds, while Trevon Shaw added 11 points and seven rebounds for the visitors.

TC's Patterson finished with 13 points with most of his offensive production coming from the free throw line as he went 11-of-16 at the stripe.  He was also held without an assist for the first time in his 45-game career at Tusculum.  Senior center Chase Mounce added 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while senior Vincent Brown scored eight points off the bench to go along with four rebounds.  Hartle was the top-rebounder for the Pioneers as he matched a career-high with six boards.

Mounce's 10-point effort moves him into sole possession of 15th place on the Tusculum all-time scoring list with 1,168 points, moving past Bob Sohas (1,166 from 1970-74).

LMU finished the night shooting 47.8 percent from the floor, while TC was held to 39.2 percent on the night, including 2-of-16 from three-point land (12.5%).  Tusculum did play LMU even in the second half as the two teams scored 40 points each in the final 20 minutes.

LMU held a 40-31 advantage on the boards and dished out 21 assists on its 33 made field goals.  Tusculum shot 26-of-34 from the foul line (76.5%) while LMU went 10-of-14 from the charity stripe (71.4%),

The Pioneers return to action on Saturday as Tusculum travels to Catawba College for a 4 p.m. contest in Salisbury, North Carolina. TC will be looking to avenge an 89-86 home loss to the Catawba Indians in the season's first encounter.