Jan. 14, 2006
Lipscomb's Bisons have scored more points and played better defense, but their 83-66 win over Mercer Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena was their most complete game of the season.
The Bisons quickly set the tone for the game, jumping out to a 26-9 lead in the first 10 minutes of the first half. In the final 10 minutes of the half the Bisons continued to build on their lead, holding a 20-plus point advantage most of the way. While they were shooting 51.7 percent from the field for the half and dominating on the boards with a 26-11 advantage, defensively they managed to hold Mercer to 25 points, their lost first half total of the season. The previous low was 29 points at Colorado.
"That is what we are looking for," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "Just bottle that up for us. I thought we were zoned in to what we have been hammering home. I thought we were about as good as we could be offensively, defensively and rebounding the ball.
"I was a little surprised that we were able to get a big lead early," said Sanderson. "But when you sustain defensively it takes a toll on the other team. And we were hitting every shot on our end for awhile."
Mercer started in a 1-3-1 zone, but the Bisons hot shooting forced the change to a man-to-man.
"We made a bunch of shot," said Sanderson. "We stretched them on the perimeter with guys making shots. Again, that was all predicated by our defense. I thought our defense was outstanding."
The Bisons held two Mercer starters _ forward Shaddean Aaron and center Will Emerson scoreless in the first half. Emerson also did not grab a rebound. Emerson and guard Jacob Skogen combined to score only 12 points.
"Skogen and Emerson are two of their best players," said Sanderson. "That was a good defensive job on both of them."
It was the third straight Atlantic Sun win for the Bisons.
Leading 50-25 at the half, the Bisons substituted liberally but led by 30 points or more from the 14:26 mark to 7:24. They led by 35 points, the biggest lead of the game, with 10:57 left to play as a lay-up by Joe Peters gave the Bisons a 71-36 advantage.
"Defensively, when we lock in like we are supposed to and guard personnel for 40 minutes I like our chances," said Sanderson. "We were zoned into day defensively.
"We have had big leads before in the first half and then given them back in the second half," said Sanderson. "I wanted to see if we were going to mature as a basketball team. I thought the first five minutes of the second half allowed me to play everybody else."
Both teams played everyone on t heir roster down the stretch of the second half. Mercer never gave up, chipping away at the Bisons lead until cutting it to 17 to finish the game.
Sanderson, who picked up his 101st win as Lipscomb's coach, sent 14 players onto the court during the game. All but one played double figures in minutes.
"We haven't had a lot of games like this," said Sanderson. "Especially in January, it is usually a luxury to get to play so many people. In this league usually the games go down to the last possession."
Senior center Shaun Durant led the Bisons, and tied for game high, in rebounds with eight. Durant also blocked two shots.
Freshman forward Michael Lusk made his second consecutive start, scoring seven points, grabbing four rebounds and making four assists while also making one steal.
"Sometimes it takes a little while for everyone to get adjusted when you make a chance like putting Michael in the starting line-up with a new role, but he has been playing well," said Sanderson. "He had seven points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes. Fans have to watch really, really hard to see what Lusk does."
Mercer placed a pair of players in double figures with both Sam Dolan and Brian Pfohl scoring 12 points each. Pfohl also tied for the game-high in rebounds with eight.
The Bisons, who play Stetson Monday night at 7 at Allen Arena, are 9-6, 5-2 in the A-Sun. Mercer is 3-9, 2-4 in the conference.
"Every game is pivotal," said Sanderson. "We will have our hands full Monday. This is the one A-Sun team we did not beat last year."