Lipscomb's Bisons made a giant step closer to qualifying for the Atlantic Sun Tournament Friday night with a 69-64 road victory over Mercer at the University Center in Macon, Ga.
"It was a great team win," said Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson. "I couldn't be prouder of our guys."
The Bisons opened the game strong, opening an 11-2 lead. They would hit nine of their first 13 shots on the way to a 21-11 lead at 11:29 of the first half.
"Mercer and Gardner-Webb are the best offensive teams in the conference," said Sanderson. "We knew we couldn't aid them. By that, I mean we couldn't turn the ball over."
The Bisons led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Mercer pulled within three points with less than two minute before intermission. Charlie Jenney's shot in the closing seconds gave the Bisons a 35-30 halftime lead.
It was more of the same to start the second half as the Bisons increased thejr lead to 10 points in the first four minutes. The largest lead in the half for the Bisons was11 points at 47-36.
Then Mercer went on a 20-8 run that gave them their first lead of the game at 53-51. Mat Jarboe's 3-pointer gave the Bisons the lead, but Mercer would once again take over at 60-58.
The Bisons refused to give up, battling back once again to win by five, the same advantage they held at halftime.
"Defensively, we wanted to keep them under 70 points and we did," Sanderson said. "We wanted to allow our half-court offense to click in."
The Bisons won the battle of the boards by a 47-29 margin.
"Mercer only had six offensive rebounds which was huge," Sanderson said.
The victory avenged an 82-73 loss to Mercer at Allen Arena Jan. 10. This was the Bison first victory over Mercer in four outings.
"We have won a lot of close games down the stretch this season, and we have lost a lot of close games down the stretch," Sanderson said. "This is a big confidence builder for us."
The victory moved the Bisons to 12-10 overall, 7-8 in the A-Sun. Mercer slipped to 13-9 overall, 8-7 in the conference.
Eddie Ard had a career night with a team-leading 17 points to pace the Bisons. Ard was 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from the free throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds, second only to Cameron Robinson's game-high 10.
"Eddie Ard is going to get better and better," Sanderson said. "We were trying to get the basketball to him. He just has so much ability. He had a lot to learn about the game when he came here. He is learning how to play his spot offensively. He is tough for people to match up with because he is so big and so strong."
James Poindexter added 12 points for the Bisons.