The Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team halted No. 2 Lincoln Memorial’s 39-game winning streak and handed the Railsplitters an 89-83 defeat inside Shuford Gymnasium on Saturday evening . The win over LMU was the highest-ranked team LR had ever beaten and just the second win over the Railsplitters since 2010.
The Bears have 12 wins over nationally-ranked opponents since 1989 and Everick Sullivan has engineered five of those victories. The Bears handed LMU its first loss since Nov. 1, 2019, and have given the Railsplitters two of their past four losses dating back to the end of the 2018-19 season.
The Bears hit 25-of-26 from the free throw line and went 20-for-20 from the charity stripe in the second half. Darius Simmons went a perfect 12-for-12 on the night. Simmons finished with 23 points and now sits just five points shy of 1,000 for his career. R.J. Gunn went off for 20 points and is just 25 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
In the first half, it was all Lenoir-Rhyne as the Bears exploded out of the gate and built a 45-29 advantage going into the break. LR shot 47.2 percent from the field and hit on 6-of-15 from long range to build up a double-digit lead. LMU went frigid in the first half. Despite entering the game shooting over 55 percent as a team, the Railsplitters went just 8-27 (29.6 %) from the field and hit just 3-15 (20 %) from distance.
The Bears held Devin Whitfield to just four first-half points as the standout came in averaging 21 points per game
As was expected, LMU came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and hit seven of their first 10 from three-point range. The 16 point halftime deficit was cut to one with 11:24 to play as the reigning conference champs wouldn’t go away without a fight.
For the first time in 22 minutes of game action. LMU took the lead at 71-70 with 5:03 to play but the Bears came roaring back. Mason Hawks would answer with a smooth step-back 3-pointer to give LR the lead back and freshman Tim Steele buried a triple on the next possession as LR would have the lead for good. Armon Muldrew, who made his first career start, along with Gunn and Hawks all hit clutch shots down the stretch and LR wouldn’t miss from the free throw line to close out the victory.
Hawks added 19 points and five boards. The trio of Simmons, Gunn and Hawks combined for 62 points on the night
Lenoir-Rhyne led for 34:01 of the game and never trailed by more than four points
After being held in check in the first half, Whitfield caught fire in the second half and finished with 21 points. Four players scored in double figures for LMU. Foul trouble was a big factor in this one as Cameron Henry and Jordan Guest fouled out and Whitfield and Xavier Bledson each finished with four fouls.
The Bears are 3-1 overall and in the conference. The Bears jump right back to action on Monday when they travel to Anderson for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.