Jan. 27, 2007
Reputation is what people think you are. Character is what you really are.
Lipscomb's Bisons will get a test of their character as they respond to Saturday's 71-66 Atlantic Sun loss to ETSU at Allen Arena. There are seven games left in the regular season.
"Our No. 1 goal was to win our league," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "But with ETSU with a three-game lead and having beaten us twice that is probably not going to happen.
"Our focus is on getting better our last seven games. If you had told me at the start of the season that we are not going to win the league, but we are going to the NCAA Tournament then I'm taking option B."
Last year the Bisons tied for the regular season championship, but fell short by one basket in the conference finals to Belmont. The consolation prize was an NIT bid.
"Our preparation has to be to get better on both ends of the floor both mentally and physically, " Sanderson said. "We are going to find out a lot about the character of our team, not on Thursday (at Mercer), but on Monday in practice.
"We will see if we can bounce back from a back-breaking loss here at home. We just don't lose at home. We have to get off the mat on Monday and be ready to go Thursday night."
The Bisons jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a lay-up and 3-point shot by point guard Trey Williams. The Bisons led 7-5 as Williams connected on a jumper at 16:51. It would be the last time the Bisons would lead in the game.
With 16:11 left in the first half guard Courtney Pigram hit a 3-pointer to give ETSU a 10-7 lead. The Bisons kept it close for much of the half, but at intermission they trailed 33-23.
ETSU extended its lead to 14 points (45-31) with 14:27 left in the game.
The Bisons refused to give up. The Bisons went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 45-40 with 11:07 remaining. The Bisons continued to battle, tying the game at 56-56 on a jump shot by forward Michael Teller with 3:31 left to play.
"You battle back from 14 down against the best team in the league and it expends a lot of energy," Sanderson said.
ETSU answered with a 10-0 run, capped by a tip-in by Knuckles with 50 seconds left. With 36 seconds left ETSU was still up by 10 points, but one last rally by the Bisons cut the lead in half in the final seconds.
Williams scored a team-leading 22 points, hitting eight-of-14 from the field, including three-of-seven 3-pointers.
Junior forward Eddie Ard added 13.
The Bisons shot 35.8 percent from the field, hitting 24-of-67 attempts. From 3-point range the Bisons hit six-of-30, a 20 percent rate. The Bisons were 12-of-21 from the free throw line.
Pigram shot a game-high and career-high 34 points to lead ETSU. Knuckles added 11.
"We had a lot of mental breakdowns against ETSU that hurt us," Sanderson said. "I thought the physical effort was there. But mentally when you leave a guy like Pigram open so many times you can't win that type of game.
"The first 12 points he made he got good looks at the basket. For a shooter if the first few shots are good looks, then the basket gets awfully big for him on the tougher shots."
ETSU hit 23-of-56 shots from the field, a 41.1 percent rate. Sparked by eight 3-pointers from Pigram, ETSU hit 12-of-20 (60 percent). At the free throw line ETSU connected on 13-of-20 tries, 65 percent.
Knuckles completed the double-double for ETSU with a game-high 14 rebounds.
The loss ended the Bisons home winning streak at 18 consecutive games.
The Bisons are 13-9, 7-4 in the conference. ETSU is 16-7, 10-1 in the A-Sun.
The next game for the Bisons is Thursday at Mercer at 6 p.m.