LMU Women’s Basketball seeks to punch ticket to NCAA Elite Eight in Regional Final vs. Columbus State


By Allen Earl - [email protected]



Harrogate, Tennessee – The No. 13/20 and third-seeded Lincoln Memorial University women’s basketball team has two games down and four more to go in the NCAA Tournament. After destroying Wingate 85-66 in the NCAA Southeast Regional Semifinals on Saturday, they now are at another “first.” The first Sweet 16 in program history Monday at 7 p.m., where they will face fourth-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State for a berth in the Elite Eight and a trip to Columbus, Ohio.

LMU is currently 28-4 overall. They are currently ranked 13th in the WBCA/USA Today NCAA Division II Coaches Poll and 20th in the final D2SIDA National Media Poll. The 28 wins ties the school record for wins with the 1988-89 squad, but since that team went 28-7 and that amount of losses is now impossible for this team, this team could truly be called the best in LMU history.

With their 19 SAC wins, LMU captured their first-ever South Atlantic Conference Championship in women’s basketball. The 19 SAC wins by LMU are a new program record for conference wins and the second-most in SAC history. Anderson went 20-2 in the 2014-15 season.

LMU earned a three-seed in this year’s regional, which is the highest seed in program history. They enter the tournament courtesy of an at-large bid.

In Saturday’s game, LMU got some payback for the SAC Tournament Final a week ago as, after Wingate scored the first basket, they went on a 21-2 run and never looked back in the 85-66 win. Wingate would cut it to four on a couple of occasions but each time the Lady Railsplitters would have an answer and extend the lead and eventually coast to the victory.

LMU was led by Shea Coker (Knoxville, Tenn.) with 25 points and seven rebounds. Coker went 10-18 from the field, 2-5 from three-point range and 3-3 from the free throw line. Emily Griffith (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) had 16 points and six rebounds. Sydnie Anderson (Cleveland, Tenn.) had 11 points while Josey Harding (Middletown, Ohio) had her 12th double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

The Lady Railsplitters dominated on both ends of the floor, out-shooting WU 41.8% (28-67)-to-29.9% (20-67) from the field and 28.6% (4-14)-to-22.2% (2-9) from three-point range. They also owned the boards by a 54-41 margin, including 34-25 in offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs did fare better from the free throw line, out-shooting LMU 85.7% (24-28)-to-65.8% (25-38) from the charity stripe. LMU also won in points in the paint (26-24), second-chance points (15-14), bench points (26-24) and fast break points (8-4).

Monday’s game will be streamed by Columbus State and the NCAA will be providing live stats. Links to those are available at the top of this page or on www.lmurailsplitters.com. Fans listening on the radio can hear play-by-play on the LMU Sports Network at 91.3 WLMU-FM and online at www.913thegap.com.

LINCOLN MEMORIAL VS. COLUMBUS STATE

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

CSU defeated Lander 73-63 on Saturday to earn a spot in the Regional Final. Lander led by one going into the fourth quarter, but were outscored by the Cougars 28-17 in the final stanza.

Columbus State has a 30-1 record entering Saturday’s game.

SCOUTING LMU

Head Coach Krystal Evans is the first LMU coach in LMU’s NCAA era to be named conference Coach of the Year. She was named the 2016-17 SAC Coach of the Year for her efforts.

Senior SAC Player of the Year, All-Region candidate and CoSIDA Academic All-American Megan Pittman leads the team in scoring with an average of 14.4 points a game. She is second on the team in rebounding with 9.1 a game. Pittman is currently shooting 80.7% from the free throw line. She has been in foul trouble for the past four games, which has limited her effectiveness in the postseason.

Junior All-SAC Second Team member Shea Coker is second on the team in scoring with a 13.5 points per game average. She tied her career high vs. Wingate Saturday and has really stepped up her game in the postseason. She also passed the 800 career points mark on Saturday.

Senior All-SAC Honorable Mention Josey Harding currently leads the team and led the SAC in rebounding and rebounds per game with 11.1 rebounds a game and is fourth on the team in scoring with 8.5 points a game. She set a new SAC single-game rebound record with her 27 at Carson-Newman and with her 23 rebounds at Anderson she became the first LMU player, men or women, to have three 20+ rebound games. She also has had 12 double-doubles this season.

Karsen Sims (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) is third on the team in scoring with 8.7 points a game.

LMU is out shooting their opponents 41.9 percent to 38.0 percent this season. They are outscoring their opponents by a 14.7 points per game margin.

The Lady Railsplitters are currently out-rebounding opponents by 10.4 rebounds a game. In the Krystal Evans era, LMU has out rebounded their opponents in 77 of the 90 games played.

LMU enters the game with a program record of 848-484-1 in 75 seasons of competition.

LMU IN THE RANKINGS

The Lady Railsplitters are ranked 13th in the latest WBCA/USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

The team is ranked 20th in the D2SIDA National Media Poll.

The fourth-place ranking earlier this season was the highest any SAC team has been ranked in the media poll, which was started in 2014 and ties the highest ranking by a SAC team in conference history. The other team? Former SAC member Presbyterian, who was ranked fourth in the coaches’ poll for two weeks in February, 2000.

The fifth-place coaches’ poll ranking earlier this season ties the highest ranking by a current SAC team in the coaches’ poll with Tusculum, who were ranked fifth the week of Jan. 13, 3009.

RECORD WATCH

POINTS – Megan Pittman currently has 1095 career points, moving her up to 16th place in the all-time standings. She became the 18th member of the LMU 1,000 point club at Newberry on Feb. 11. She trails #15 Bridget Long (1990-94) by 25 points. Coker has 816, Harding has 760, Anderson 368, Mathis 321, Sims 334, Rachel Griffith 214 and twin Emily Griffith 238.

REBOUNDS – Pittman has become the third player in LMU history to pass the 800 rebound mark, she now has 822 career rebounds, and is tied for third place in the LMU record book with Harding. She is 37 rebounds behind second-place Lori Neely (1985-89).

Harding also currently has 822 rebounds and is tied with Pittman for third in career rebounds. She has become the fourth player in school history to have 800 rebounds and by moving into the top five there are now two of the top four rebounders in program history on the same team.

FIELD GOALS – Pittman is in 18th place on the made field goals list with 398. She needs two to pass Bridget Long (1990-94). She is also now 19th on the attempts list with 840 and is four behind #18 Anita Nelums (1992-95). Pittman is also 16th in field goal percentage with a 47.4% career mark, just behind Shea Coker’s 47.8%.

THREE-POINTERS – Coker is 10th in made treys with 92 and trails #9 Chasity Williams (2002-06) by three. Coker is also tied for 14th on the three-point attempts list with 214 with Amanda Jackson (1997-01), and first on the 3-pt percentage list with a .430 percentage. Mathis is 12th in made treys with 80 and trails #11 Katrina Ottesen by nine. She is 13th on the attempts list with 230 and tenth on the percentage list with 34.8%.

FREE THROWS – Pittman is now tied for tenth all-time in made free throws with 259 with Jennifer Childs (1999-03). Pittman is in 15th place in free throw attempts with 319, which translates to fourth place in career free throw percentage (81.2%).

Harding is ninth all-time in made free throws (276) and trails #8 Marcie Stout (1981-85) by four. She is 7th in free throw attempts (409).

BLOCKS – Harding is currently in fifth place on the all-time blocks list with 110. She is the fifth player in LMU history to have 100 or more blocks.

Pittman is also on the blocks list, where she is tied for 14th with 52 blocks with Debbie Green (1988-91). She is one behind Jennifer Childs.

DOUBLE-DOUBLES – Pittman also has 32 career double-doubles, tying her with Hillary Ross’ (2000-04) school record 32.

SERIES VS. COLUMBUS STATE

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

SCOUTING COLUMBUS STATE

The only loss by the Cougars this season was at USC-Aiken, a team that LMU defeated 78-51 back in November. Other common opponents are Anderson, Carson-Newman, Lander and King.

Peach Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Alexis Carter leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points a game and also leads the team in rebounding with 10.4 rebounds a game.

All-PBC performer Ashley Asouzu is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points a game. Britteny Tatum is third at 12.5 points a game.

Special to the Claiborne Progress by LMU Athletics Department

By Allen Earl

[email protected]

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