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TJ Nesmith
TJ Nesmith was fifth in the conference in field goal percentage.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Falls at Tusculum

The Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball team got 31 points from T.J. Nesmith but saw a late rally fall short at Tusculum on Saturday afternoon in South Atlantic Conference play, losing 85-79. Nesmith averaged 30 points per game in the Bears two games this week and pulled down nine boards per game.

Nesmith poured in 29 points in an overtime win over Wingate on Wednesday and answered that with a 31-point, 6-rebound performance on Saturday. Nesmith went 14-for-22 from the field and added two blocks and a steal. Jalen Johnson had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds and went 3-of-6 from long range for LR while Nas Tyson had 11 points and nine boards.

Other than that trio, LR would only muster 23 points from the rest of the team as LR had to play short-handed without sharpshooter L.J. McCoy. The Bears shot 50.8 percent from the field but only got to the free throw line five times in the game (4-of-5).

Tusculum saw a balanced offense with five players scoring in double figures led by 21 from Kobe Funderburk who went 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-9 from deep. Connor Jordan added 19 points and Inady Legiste had 10 points and 11 boards for the double-double.

Tusculum shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and went 8-for-14 from deep in the final 20 minutes. For the game, Tusculum went 16-of-33 from 3-point range, hitting 48.5 percent.

LR dominated in points in the paint to the tune of a 36-14 advantage. However, that was offset by eight more made 3-pointers by the Pioneers.

Tim Steele saw his first action since Jan. 18 as he returned from an injury and scored four points in eight minutes. LR trailed by 11 points with 6:08 to go but trimmed it to 71-69 with 3:05 left.

Lenoir-Rhyne falls to 9-14 overall, 4-11 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears will return to action on Wednesday when they host Anderson for a 7:30 p.m. tip.