Photo Courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. – After capturing the Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship last Sunday at Williams Gymnasium, the Lees-McRae College men's basketball team will head to Harrogate, Tennessee on Saturday to take on Queens University of Charlotte in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off for Saturday's game is set for 2:30 p.m. from Tex Turner Arena.
Last Time Out – As mentioned earlier, the Bobcats captured their first league championship last Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at Williams Gymnasium. LMC defeated eighth-seeded Belmont Abbey by a score of 75-72 to punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. With the win, the Bobcats improved to 23-8 on the campaign.
Lean on Lepreece – Much like he has done all season long, senior Lepreece Lynch led the Bobcats in multiple statistical categories to help lift his team to win over Belmont Abbey. Lynch paced LMC with 17 points, three steals, while also finishing second on the squad with six rebounds and a pair of assists.
Make the Free Ones Count – Like Lees-McRae has done all season long, Sunday's championship game victory can be traced to the team's success from the free throw line. Overall, LMC shot 25-of-32 from the charity stripe, including a 20-for-27 mark in the second half. In 2017-18, no team in NCAA Division II men's basketball has made more free throws (638) or attempted more (869) than the Bobcats.
Scoring at a Startling Pace – LMC has been one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation this season averaging 90.1 points per game. Only four teams have averaged more points this season than Lees-McRae and they are: West Liberty (106.6), Lincoln Memorial (94.7), East Stroudsburg (93.5) and Valdosta State (93.2).
Turner lighting it up from three-point range – Senior Jordan Turner has been an integral part of LMC ranking 11th nationally in three-pointers made this season. The All-Conference Carolinas Third Team selection has made a team-high 96 shots from beyond the arc in 2017-18, which is the second-most by any Bobcat in the history of the program.
About the Southeast Regional Field – The southeast regional of the NCAA Tournament bracket consists of eight teams with four of the eight squads either ranked or receiving votes in the NABC National Polls. In addition to LMC's matchup against Queens at 2:30 p.m., the other first round games are as follows: Francis Marion vs. UNC Pembroke at noon, King (TN) vs. Lincoln Memorial at 5:30 p.m. and Carson-Newman vs. Clayton State at 8 p.m. All of the information for this weekend's regional can be found by visiting the tournament central page HERE.
About Queens – The Royals enter the NCAA tournament for the third straight season and 11th time overall when they tangle with the Bobcats Saturday. Queens, which finished 2017-18 with a record of 28-3, fell in the South Atlantic Conference Championship game to top-seeded Lincoln Memorial by a score of 77-75. All three of Queens' losses this season have come at the hands of LMU.
Series Rewind – Lees-McRae and Queens matched up last season in Charlotte. The Royals got the better of the Bobcats on that day winning by a score of 84-69. Turner led LMC in that game with 18 points, while Donte Falls wasn't far behind chipping in 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.