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Tim Steele
Tim Steele had 19 points to lead the Bears.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Clinch Conference Tournament Bid With Upset Win

The Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball team clinched a bid in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament with a home victory over Wingate on Senior Night inside Shuford Arena, 93-80. The Bears entered the game needing a win to clinch the 8-seed and they knocked off conference-leading Wingate by double digits. The loss drops Wingate into a 3-way tie for first place.

A balanced offense led LR with Tim Steele leading the way with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from long range. Nas Tyson, Jaquias Franklin and Cooper Fowler all had 11 each for LR.

Each team came out firing to start as the high-scoring first half saw the teams combine for 90 points. Wingate took a narrow 46-44 edge into the break. The Bears shot 51.4 percent from the field while Wingate connected on just over 56 percent.

Jaheim Taylor’s fast break bucket made it 54-52 in favor of LR with 14:54 to play and the Bears would never trail the rest of the way. Wingate pulled even on a couple of occasions but the Bears had the answer each time.

With the Bears up 76-73 with over five minutes to play, LR sealed the win with a perfectly timed 10-0 run. Fowler had an and-one and Steele buried a triple in the run that put the Bears up 13 with 2:58 to play.

The lead swelled to as many as 16 before Wingate hit a three at the buzzer. Donell Nixon led all scorers with 23 points and added seven assists while teammate Vontrez Roberts had 21 points and 14 boards. Franklin added seven helpers for LR.

Eight different players scored at least eight points for LR. This was the fourth-best shooting performance of the year for LR as they hit 54.4 percent of their shots.

The 56.3 percent shooting from long range was the third best mark of the year. This was the second time this season LR topped 90 points, each coming in the past two weeks.

The Bears are off on the final Saturday of the season as the rest of the league has games to play. The Bears are locked in as the No. 8 seed in the tournament and will play on Tuesday but the opponent will be determined based on Saturday’s results along with a possible tiebreaker scenario.