Carson-Newman falls to LMU in NCAA Tournament

AIKEN, S.C. – Lincoln Memorial (28-2) blasted out the gates in the second half on a 13-2 run and never looked back in a 76-65 victory over Carson-Newman (19-8) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center in Aiken, S.C.

The Eagles led 32-31 at the break before the Railsplitters rocketed out of the gates at the start of the second half. Tim Pierce hit a three off the window and a long two from the top of the key to extend push the LMU lead to 11 just three minutes into the second half.

Carson-Newman would get no closer than four the rest of the way.

"Unfortunately we did not perform well enough to stay in this tournament," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "Credit that to LMU. They made it difficult for us to score points. Then when they needed points, they had a great one-two punch of Tim Pierce and Vinny Bailey. They got the ball in the basket and applaud them on their performance."

The loss ends a brief stay in the NCAA tournament for Carson-Newman – its first postseason appearance since the 2001-02 season. LMU moves on to face third-seed Montevallo Sunday at 5 p.m. with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

LMU stared the second half by hitting seven of its first eight shots while the Eagles were relegated to 33 percent shooting for much of the second half.

"Everything they did today, we were prepared for," Benson said. "They forced other people to step up to the plate. They're one of the better defensive teams in the country. They played such smothering team defense today; we couldn't get enough easy baskets today and that made for a long day."

The loss ends the storied careers of Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.). Together, they combined to score 3,448 points in their respective journeys at Mossy Creek.

Davis finishes his tenure among the top eight in scoring at C-N with 1,526 points lifetime for the Orange and Blue. Meanwhile, Sanders ends his career with 1,922 points – fifth on C-N's all-time scoring list and fourth on the South Atlantic Conference's. He winds up as the all-time leader in made threes for both the SAC and C-N with 343.

"It sucks how it ended," Sanders said. "I'm excited for the team next year, but I had a great year because of coach Benson and Antoine. It hurts, but I know they can do well next year."

Sanders wound up with 11 points and five assists in the game. Davis was C-N's leading scorer with 17 points and seven rebounds.

"This is no doubt a tough loss and the credit goes to LMU," Davis said. "Hopefully next year's team can do better than we did. Ish and coach Benson made my career. They made life so much easier for me."

The Southeast Region Player of the Year Vincent Bailey paced the Railsplitters with 21 points and 10 boards, his 15th double-double of the season. Tim Pierce popped the Eagles for 22 points, 18 of which came on six-of-eight shooting from beyond the three-point arc.

The Railsplitters shot 50 percent from the field and blocked a season high 10 of Carson-Newman's shots. The Eagles hit 46 percent of their shots, but were just 12-of-29, 41 percent, from the field in the second half.

For the latest updates on Carson-Newman basketball in the offseason, follow @cnathletics on Twitter and visit frequently.


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