HARROGATE, Tenn. --- Emily Griffith made two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to finish with a game-high 21 points as Lincoln Memorial University edged Tusculum University 76-75 in South Atlantic Conference women's basketball action Wednesday night at Tex Turner Arena.
Griffith's foul shots came after the Pioneers took a 75-74 lead with 4.3 seconds remaining on a basket by Yolizma Cupidan. After a timeout advanced the ball to midcourt, Griffith took the inbounds pass and missed a shot attempt. However, a foul was called on Tusculum and Griffith sank both attempts at the foul line for a one-point LMU lead. Tusculum was unable to get a shot attempt away before time expired to cap a wild finish that saw eight lead changes in the final four minutes.
The Railsplitters (11-6, 7-3 SAC) won their fifth consecutive game by forcing the Pioneers (12-5, 5-5 SAC) into 23 turnovers. Tusculum had slight advantages in shooting over Lincoln Memorial, as the Pioneers hit an even 50 percent (28-for-56) from the field and 13-for-27 from three-point range compared to 47.5 percent (28-for-59) from the floor and 5-for-11 from long range by the Railsplitters. However, LMU went 15-for-20 at the free-throw line while Tusculum went just 6-for-9 from the stripe in the game.
Griffith went 4-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line in the fourth quarter despite playing with four personal fouls. Overall, Griffith was 9-for-15 from the field and added a game-high seven assists to go along with five rebounds for the Railsplitters.
Kendrea Duke led the Pioneers with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field, while Callie Patterson hit four three-pointers and finished with 14 points. Jalia Arnwine also sank four three-pointers and had 12 points for the Pioneers, and Cupidan was the fourth player in double figures for Tusculum with 11 points on 5-for-7 from the floor.
Tusculum trailed by 15 points in the second quarter, but cut the deficit to seven points by halftime and led 55-53 after three quarters. The Pioneers led by eight points at 66-58 with 5:58 left following a Cupidan three-pointer, but an 8-0 run by LMU tied the game at 66-66 on a three-pointer by Kyndall Caudle with 3:51 remaining. Tusculum regained the lead on a basket by Duke with 3:28 left, but Griffith converted a three-point play with 2:46 to play for a 69-68 Lincoln Memorial lead.
The Pioneers went back ahead 71-69 on a three-pointer by Patterson with 2:03 left, but Rachel Griffith sank a three at the other end for a 72-71 Railsplitter lead with 1:42 remaining. Tusculum went back on top 73-72 on a Duke basket with 44 seconds left, only to see LMU go back ahead 74-73 as Emily Griffith hit a layup with 21 seconds to go. Cupidan responded on a driving layup for a 75-74 Pioneer lead with 4.3 seconds to go, but Emily Griffith came back to hit the game-winning free throws.
Tusculum fell behind 17-5 on an early 9-0 run by Lincoln Memorial, which would go on to lead by as many as 14 points before taking a 27-17 at the end of one quarter. The LMU lead would grow to 32-17 on a three-pointer by Maggie Jachimczuk early in the second quarter, but the Pioneers went on an 8-0 run to cut the margin to 36-31 on a three by Mya Belton with 3:29 to go in the half.
Lincoln Memorial led 41-34 at intermission as Emily Griffith led the Railsplitters with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Rachel Griffith and Sydney Newsome had six points each for LMU, which shot 45.5 percent (15-for-33) from the field and 10-for-15 at the foul line in the first half. Arnwine led Tusculum with nine points in the first half by going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, with Belton adding eight points off the bench and Long with seven. Tusculum was 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) from the field in the half and hit eight three-pointers in 16 attempts.
Tusculum quickly erased the deficit and tied the game at 41-41 on a jumper by Cupidan with 8:51 left in the third quarter, and would take its first lead of the night at 44-43 on a foul shot by Duke with 6:16 to go in the period. The Pioneers would hold the lead until the Railsplitters went back on top 51-50 on a Jachimczuk bucket with 53 seconds left in the quarter. However, Tusculum responded with five in a row on a basket by Jasmine Williams and a three-pointer to beat the buzzer by Lovely Locklear to go on top 55-53 entering the final quarter.
Long finished the game with seven points for the Pioneers, but had five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 38 minutes. Arnwine's four three-pointers were a career high, and Cupidan finished with a team-high five assists that was her season best and one short of her career high.
Rachel Griffith had 18 points for the Railsplitters to join her sister as the only players in double figures for LMU. Jachimczuk had eight points off the bench for Lincoln Memorial, which turned the ball over 20 times in the game but outrebounded Tusculum by a 34-30 margin.
The Pioneers will return home to start the second half of their SAC schedule against Catawba on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Arena. The Indians defeated the Pioneers 64-51 in the first meeting of the season on Dec. 1 in Salisbury, North Carolina.