March 2, 2007
Losing is never easy.
Losing in the semifinals of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament was difficult for the Lipscomb Bisons basketball team.
But losing senior guards Brian Fisk and Trey Williams might prove to be even tougher. The pair went out in a memorable fashion Friday night, combining for 39 points as the No. 4-seeded Bisons lost 77-72 to No. 1-seeded ETSU on its home court at the Memorial Center.
"They are the heart and soul of our basketball team with their energy and effort," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "I'm not talking about just game days. I'm talking about practice too. I can count on one-hand the bad practices they had.
"Brian and Trey made some big plays for us. They willed out team into what it was this year. We are going to miss both of them...bad."
The game was a dogfight from the start, even though history was not in the Bisons favor. The last time the No. 4-seed had beaten the No.1-seed in the conference tournament was when Georgia Southern beat Arkansas-Little Rock in 1987.
The first half ended in a 35-35 tie, the eighth time in the half that both teams were tied. The biggest lead was seven points when center Jason Hopkins scored on a tip-in to make it 25-18 with 7:35 left before the half.
Both teams were 1-0 when tied at halftime this season.
ETSU came out in the second half and went on an 18-8 run that gave them a 53-43 lead with 15:23 left to play. With 10:50 left on the clock ETSU held an 11-point advantage (59-48).
ETSU's biggest lead was 12 points (63-51) with 8:35 remaining. The Bisons never gave up pulling within three (69-66) with 3:55 left on a pair of free throws by Fisk. With one minute on the clock a lay-up by Fisk cut the lead to one at 73-72, but the Bisons were not able to tie to take control of the game in the final seconds.
"Regardless of whether you are up or down in a game you want to play the same way with high energy and good defense," Fisk said. "Defense is what builds championships.
"We brought everybody together when we were down by 12 and said we have to turn this around. There is no quit in us ever. We play for 40 minutes. We may not play as good as we would want to for all 40 minutes, but we are going to fight until the buzzer goes off."
Hopkins and Ard tied for the team rebounding lead with seven apiece.
The Bisons shot 45.6 percent from the field, hitting 26-of-57 shots. They were six-of-21 from 3-point range, 28.6 percent. The Bisons hit 14-of-18 free throw tries, a 77.8 percent success rate.
ETSU also placed four players in double figures. Courtney Pigram connected for a game-high 21 points. Mike Smith added 17. Brad Knuckles completed the double-double with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Eryk Thomas scored 11 points.
"Pigram is hard to guard because he plays well without the ball," Sanderson said. "He is constantly moving. And he is very good at making bad shots."
ETSU hit 50 percent from the field, 29-of-58, including four-of-16 from beyond the arc, 25 percent. ETSU hit 15-of-20 free throw tries, 75 percent.
ETSU held a 35-30 edge on the boards.
The Bisons finished the season with an 18-13 record, 11-7 in the conference.
"I think for the whole year our whole has not been as good as our parts," Sanderson said. "We have been very inconsistent throughout the year. We had some big wins, but we had a couple of bad losses.
"The effort and energy out guys gave was tremendous. But we fell short of the expectations we had for our basketball team."