Brevard, N.C. - Jonathan Whitson led the way with 32 points with 22 coming in the second half as the Tornados took sole possession of first place in the South Atlantic Conference on Saturday night with the 88-70 victory in Boshamer Gymnasium over visiting Lincoln Memorial University.
Whitson added five rebounds and three blocks as the Tornados (16-6, 8-3 SAC) scored 30 points in the paint and added 19 second chance points in the contest. Josh Roper added 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds, going a perfect seven of seven from the free throw line and Drew Schauss added 10 points on three of five shooting from the bench as the Tornados earned the season split with the Railsplitters. The Tornados won the turnover battle against Lincoln Memorial, which was one of the keys to the game, coughing the ball up 11 times to the Railsplitters 18.
Lincoln Memorial (17-5, 7-4 SAC) was led by Desmond Johnson with 12 points as the sophomore from Lynch, Ky. also led all players with eight rebounds in the contest. Josh Stanley added 12 points from the bench, connecting three times from behind the arc and Scott Erland added 11 second-half points as Lincoln Memorial shot 38.5 percent (10-26) from distance in the game.
Brandon Armstrong came out with the hot hand to start the game, connecting on his first two three-point attempts as the Railsplitters held the lead through the first nine and a half minutes of the contest, before a pair of free throws by Roper at the 10:28 mark gave Brevard its first lead of the game at 17-16. Lincoln Memorial responded with a layup by D’Mario Curry to give the lead back to the guests, before an offensive rebound and put back by Brevard’s Drew Schauss gave the Tornados the 19-18 lead.
The basket sparked 15-2 run as Schauss connected on a pair of threes to offset a jumper by Lincoln Memorial’s Justin Allen, before a three-pointer by LMU’s Carlos Sanford at the 2:05 mark ended the stretch with Brevard up 34-23. The teams swapped baskets as Josh Roper added a layup for Brevard and Johnson connected on a jumper off the assists from Stuart Miller for Lincoln Memorial as the teams headed into the locker room with Brevard up 36-25.
The Tornados scored 12 of the first 13 points in the second half on their way to a 48-28 lead on Nathan Whitmire’s layup at the 15:44 mark. Lincoln Memorial cleared the bench in an attempt to stop the run and the LMU reserves did just that as Stanley and Erland scored eight straight points to bring the game to within 12 points at 53-41 with 11:56 to play.
The Tornados gradually built their lead again as Roper’s three-point play at the 7:22 mark put the score at 64-44 and Brevard took its largest lead of the evening going up 86-58 on a layup by Whitson with 1:42 to play. Lincoln Memorial scored 12 of the last 14 points in the contest as Wally Jones put in a late jumper as time expired, but the Tornados walked off the court with the win, 88-70.
The Tornados have some time off before returning to South Atlantic Conference play on Saturday, February 13th, as Brevard hosts Wingate University in Boshamer Gymnasium. Tipoff between the Tornados and the Bulldogs is set for 4 p.m.