Feb. 22, 2008
Whenever Lipscomb and Belmont meet on the basketball court the outcome is going to hang in the balance until the final buzzer.
Friday night at Belmont's Curb Center the Bisons watched a first half lead disappear on the way to a 74-65 loss in the second round of the "Battle of the Boulevard".
"I told them to keep their heads up," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "We have to learn from this. I thought our young kids played well."
Belmont did not score its first goal until the 16:08 mark when Justin Hare connected on a 3-pointer.
The Bisons would extend their lead to 19-9 on a lay-up by freshman forward Brandon Brown with 9:54 left in the first half. The Bisons maintained the lead until Alex Renfroe connected on a 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining before intermission.
"We should have been up by more than that," said Sanderson. "We were very good defensively for the first 15 minutes, but we were not very good offensively. You can't be bad offensively for that long a period of time and count on your defense for that long a period of time and think you are going to shut them down. Belmont is too explosive offensively. You are only going to hold them down so long."
Henry Harris gave Belmont a 23-21 lead, their first of the half, on a lay-up with 2:01 on the clock. Belmont extended its lead to 29-24 as Matthew Dotson hit a 3-point with one second to go.
In the second half Belmont led by 10 points, their biggest lead of the game, at 38-28 with 16:50 left to play.
The Bisons responded with a 14-2 run to take a 42-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Slater with 12:15 on the clock.
"We lose focus sometimes," Sanderson said. "We can't turn it on and turn it off defensively. We have to guard for 40 minutes to give ourselves a chance to meet a team like Belmont that is very polished offensively."
From 11:19 to 9:09 the lead shifted six times with the Bisons holding a 50-49 edge on a lay-up by freshman guard Jimmy Oden.
"I thought for the balance of the game Jimmy was really, really good," said Sanderson. "He caused havoc defensively. He got a lot of lay-ups for us. He created baskets for us. Late in the game he had two turnovers that hurt us, but he didn't mean to do it."
The Bisons maintained the lead until 6:09 when Andy Wicke scored on a lay-up for Belmont for a 55-54 advantage.
`We were up one and they beat us to every loose ball," Sanderson said. "You have to finish both halves and in the last five minutes of both halves we didn't play very well."
Belmont would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way. The Bisons cut the lead to 67-63 with a lay-up and free throw by Hodzic at 1:09.
Slater led the Bisons in scoring with a game-high 16 points. Ard scored 14. Hodzic just missed a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Hare led Belmont with 14 points. Dotson scored 12, Jordan Campbell added 11 and Renfroe scored 10.
The biggest difference was at the free throw line with Belmont hitting 19-of-29 attempts and the Bisons hitting 5-of-9 tries.
The Bisons finish the season with home games against Gardner-Webb Feb. 28 and Campbell March 1 at Allen Arena. The Bisons then head to the Atlantic Sun Tournament March 5-8 at Lipscomb.
"We have two more games to try to get better and then seven teams come to visit us at Allen Arena," Sanderson said. "We don't leave Allen Arena for the rest of the season."
The Bisons are 13-15 overall, 7-7 in the A-Sun. Belmont is 20-8 overall, 12-2 in the conference.