Feb. 29, 2008
The Lipscomb Bisons sang the first of what they hope are five choruses of "Sweet Home Allen Arena" Thursday night with an 83-71 win over Gardner-Webb.
The Bisons are closing out their regular season on their home court with Campbell visiting Saturday for an 8:15 game.
But the Bisons also return to Allen Arena next week for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. They will need three wins to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson likes what he is seeing from his team at this stage of the season. The Bisons are 8-2 at home. They scored 53 points in the second half on the way to the win.
"I think you need to win games going down the stretch," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "We have won six-of-eight in February.
"Campbell always plays us tough. They will be very good. I hope we have a lot of people come out to see the final home game of the regular season."
The game was gritty from the start with the Bisons holding the lead until 12:31 of the first half when guard Grayson Flittner scored on a lay-up to give Gardner-Webb an 18-16 lead.
:"I thought we were very good offensively," Sanderson said. "I thought we were about as good as we bave been offensively this season. We moved the ball extremely well. We shared the basketball. We played the game inside-out."
Gardner-Webb held the lead the rest of the first half. The Bisons cut it to one, 27-26, with 4:52 left to play on a jump shot from Michael Lusk. Gardner-Webb responded and twice led by seven points in the final minutes of the first half. They led 35-30 at intermission.
The Bisons set the tone early for their second half comeback. Senior guard LaKory Daniels opened with a 3-point shot 18 seconds in the half. The Bisons scored seven unanswered points in less than two minutes, but still trailed in the game.
"I almost had a heart attack at halftime trying to get my message across," said Sanderson. "Gardner-Webb is a tough, physical team. I thought they beat us to a lot of loose balls. That aggravates me so I aggravated our players at halftime."
Freshman center Adnan Hodzic tied the game for the Bisons with a lay-up with 14:38 left to play. Gardner-Webb against responded with six straight points.
The Bisons tied the game at 47-47 with 11:14 left to play on a jump shot by freshman forward Brandon Brown. Junior guard Michael Lusk connected on a lay-up at 10:45 to give the Bisons a 49-47 edge and their first lead of the half. They would not trail or have another tie the rest of the way.
Hodzic's lay-up with 5:36 left to play gave the Bisons their first double-figure lead at 10 points, 63-53. They would continue to build on their advantage the rest of the way. The Bisons biggest lead was 15 points with 1:46 remaining on a pair of free throws from senior forward Eddie Ard.
The Bisons were led by Hodzic who scored season-and-career-high 24 points. Hodzic, second in the conference in field goal percentage, hit 11-of-13 attempts.
"The coaches were stressing getting the ball inside and the guards were doing that," Hodzic said. "We felt like we had an advantage inside. Gardner-Webb plays very physical inside and that gave us a lot of problems."
Sanderson pointed to the Belmont game Friday night when Hodzic only had the opportunity to shoot seven times.
"We have worked really hard trying to get him more shots," Sanderson said. "If we can play the game inside-out and get him touches in the post we are a more effective team."
Ard added 21 and also led the Bisons in rebounds with eight. Daniels scored 13, all in the second half. Lusk chipped in with 12.
"I thought Eddie Ard played tough," Sanderson said. "He played a physical game and got some big rebounds in traffic. LaKory jumped up and made a couple of shots."
The Bisons shot 50.8 percent from the field, hitting 30-of-59 shots. Gardner-Webb hit 28-of-65 attempts, a 43.1 percent success rate.
Guard Aaron Linn scored a game-high 29 points. Flittner added 19. Forward Thomas Sanders grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and completed the double-double with 12 points.
"Sanders Is the best guy I have seen in rebounded out of his area," Sanderson said. "He runs down so many balls. He is very, very active."
Gardner-Webb held a slight edge on the boards 36-25.
The Bisons are 15-15 overall, 8-7 in the A-Sun. Gardner-Webb dropped to 15-14, 9-6 in the conference.