Jan. 20, 2006
In a rivlary filled with historical and magical moments this was one for the ages.
Known as the "Battle of the Boulevard" the meetings between Lipscomb and Belmont are always hard fought affairs. Friday night's edition was no exception as the Lipscomb Bisons prevailed in overtime by the score of 97-85 in front of 5,028 fans, the largest crowd ever in Allen Arena.
"The fan support is what makes this game so special for me," said senior guard James Poindexter. "To come out there at 5:30 and have the fans cheering you on while you warm up and then have them be as loud as they can be when you come out on the court to play the game is what I like. This is my last time to play Belmont in this arena. The crowd is what I am going to miss."
The Bisons, 11-6 overall, 7-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, won their fifth straight game and take over sole possession of third place. The Bruins ended a four-game winning streak and slip to 8-8, 6-3 in the conference.
The game had been billed as a clash of styles with the defensive-minded Bisons taking on the offensive-minded Bruins. Sanderson stressed he never thought it was that clear cut.
"Somebody asked me earlier if it was our defense against their offense," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "I told them, no, because I think we are pretty good offensively too."
Sanderson also thinks that the hard lessons learned at Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee in non-conference play this season prepared his Bisons to be able to embrace and overcome adversity.
"We battled back and battled back," said Sanderson. "We made plays. You have to have been there before. Playing at Kentucky, Tennessee and those types of arenas has hardened our team. They are expecting to win. It doesn't mean they are going to win them all;, but they have a confidence about them."
Belmont set the tempo for much of the first half as both teams traded baskets. A jump shot by Matthew Dotson gave the Bruins at 19-17 lead with 10:05 left to play in the first half. The Bisons took an eight-point lead at 32-24 with 6:15 left on a 3-pointer by Poindexter,
The Bisons held their advantage until 2:35 when Justin Hare connected for a 3-pointer to give the Bruins a 36-35 advantage. The Bisons, sparked by free throws from Poindexter and sophomore forward Eddie Ard, took over at 39-36 with 1:24 left until intermission.
The Bruins then scored back-to-back 3-pointers. Andy Wicke tied the game with 47 seconds on the clock. Hare found the net at the buzzer to give Belmont a 42-39 edge at intermission. "We never got into a frenzy in the first half," said Sanderson. "The pace of the game was to Belmont's liking. They beat us to every loose ball. They got every offensive rebound. At halftime we had to make sure we understood what was going on.
"They out-rebounded us by eight and shot 54 percent. And that was not us. We have been out-rebounding teams by eight and having them shoot 40 percent."
The second half was more of the same with both teams trading shots and leads. A 3-pointer by Hare with 2:36 left to play gave the Bruins a 5-point lead at 77-72.
But the Bisons refused to give in closing out regulation with a 7-2 scoring run on a 3-pointer by Poindexter, a lay-up by senior forward Cameron Robinson and a jumper by junior guard Brian Fisk for a 79-79 tie.
"We clamped down in the second half and Eddie, Brian and James made some tough shots," said Sanderson.
With four seconds left in the game Fisk missed a 3-point shot. Robinson came down with rebound and was fouled. He went to the free throw line with 0.7 seconds and missed the first of a one-and-one.
"When Cameron stepped up to the line and missed that shot he kind of put his head down after that," said Ard. "The whole team saw the look in his eyes. We said we had to get this one for him and for the whole team. We kind of stepped up the intensity to another level."
In overtime the Bisons controlled from the start, as junior guard Trey Williams scored on the first possession. Backed by the shooting of Ard and Poindexter the Bisons pulled ahead by eight points (91-83) with 44 seconds left.
"Our coaches did a great job of telling us we still had five minutes to win the game," said Ard. "That helped bring us over the hump."
A lay-up by Fisk put the Bisons up by 10 at 95-85. Williams hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to close out the scoring.
Ard scored a career high and season high 25 points to lead all scorers, hitting 6-of-13 shots from the field, including 2-of-4 3-point attempts and 11-of-12 free throws. He also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. It was also his fifth time to score 20 or more points in a game and his second consecutive game he has scored 20 or more points.
Poindexter scored a season-high 24 points, his first time this season to score in the 20s. Poindexter hit 6-of-13 shots from the field, including 3-of-6 3-pointers and was 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
"I have been struggling a lot this season," said Poindexter. "A lot of guys on this team have given me a lot of confidence. They have encouraged me to keep my head up. For that reason I just felt like I was in the zone a little bit."
Also in double figures for the Bisons were Fisk with 16 points and freshman guard Michael Lusk with 12.
Robinson came off the bench to haul down eight rebounds, the second best on the team.
"I can't say enough about Cam and James," said Sanderson. "Their roles changed about a month ago. Both of those guys have accepted their roles off of the bench and have been humongous factors for us. As most everyone knows that is very difficult for seniors to do. Cam misses that free throw and you would have thought he was Superman in overtime the way he was hustling."
The Bruins also placed four players in double figures with Hare leading with 20 followed by Boomer Herndon with 16 and both Brian Collins and Andrew Preston with 12.
Collins and Hare each had 10 rebounds for double-doubles as the Bruins held the advantage on the boards 42-39.
The Bisons shot 42.5 percent from the field while Belmont shot 47.5 percent. In the overtime the Bisons hit 50 percent of their shots (4-of-8) with the Bruins hitting only 25 percent (2-of-8).
The Bisons have little time to enjoy this victory. A road trip to Florida Atlantic Tuesday night is next on the agenda followed by a visit from Florida Atlantic on Jan. 29 and a trip to Belmont on Jan. 31.
"This game is a confidence booster and gives us some momentum going into the Florida Atlantic games," said Ard.