Lipscomb guard Josh Slater became the first player in the school’s NCAA history to earn a triple-double as he led the Bisons to a 71-52 win over USC Upstate.
Guard Brandon Barnes led the Bisons in scoring with a game-high 14 points, but Slater scored 10 points, made 10 steals and was credited with 12 assists in 27 minutes of play Thursday night at Allen Arena.
“Coming down the stretch I want to be able to give us offense off of my defense,” Slater said. “I want to be aggressive and bring energy. With three regular season games left I am not holding anything back.
“That is something I have been focusing on. I want to give us some easy baskets. It is going to be important for me to drive and kick the ball to open shooters especially the way we are shooting right now.”
It was the first triple-double in the Atlantic Sun against another NCAA Division I opponent since 2006 and the last in the conference overall since 2008.
The last A-Sun player with at least 10 steals against a Division I opponent was Philip Huyler with 11 against Campbell Jan. 18, 1997.
“It is an honor to be the first to get a triple-double in the NCAA era for Lipscomb,” Slater said. “The credit goes to the team. If they are not hitting shots then I’m not getting assists.
“If they are not pressuring the ball I am not able to get into the passing lanes. It was a team effort.”
Slater broke his own school record for steals in a game. His previous high was eight. He also set a new career high for assists after twice recording 11 in a game.
The 10 steals are the most this season in an NCAA Division I game. Another player had 10 steals this season but it was against a non-Division I opponent.
“At this point in the season everybody is trying to grind through it and get better each day for the conference tournament,” Slater said. “I was proud of the way we were able to hit shots and play pretty good defense overall.”
Coach Scott Sanderson praised the overall play of his senior guard.
“Josh was terrific,” Sanderson said. “He was very active on the ball. We told everybody we wanted them to attack the rim.
“Even in the first half when we weren’t scoring in our half court offense we created a lot off offense off of our defense.”
The Bisons struggled in the first eight minutes of the first half. They did not lead until center Milos Kleut hit a jumper at 8:39 for an 18-16 Lipscomb lead.
Upstate would recapture the lead at 19-18 when Ricardo Green hit a layup and was fouled by Kleut. Green sunk his free throw to complete the three-point play.
The Bisons held a 20-19 advantage with 5:19 left before intermission on a free throw by Barnes. They never trailed again. At intermission the Bisons held a 36-24 advantage.
Also in double figures for the Bisons were center Adnan Hodzic and guard Jordan Burgason with 11 apiece.
The biggest number offensively for the Bisons might have been the 36 points scored by players off of the bench.
“That was huge for us,” Sanderson said. “We were very, very unselfish.”
After the slow start in the first half the Bisons settled down both offensively and defensively.
They held Upstate to 36.8 percent shooting from the field. No Upstate player scored in double figures.
The Bisons shot 56.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
“We played better for longer stretches and that is what we are looking for,” Sanderson said. “We are looking for 25 or 30 minutes instead of 15 or 20 minutes.
“We had 27 field goals on 20 assists. That is really, really good.”
The Bisons, led by Brandon Brown with a game-high eight boards, held a 37-27 advantage in rebounds.
“Our goal in this game was to hold Upstate to 35 percent and we held them to 36.8 percent,” Sanderson said. “Our goal was to out-rebound them by 10 and we did.”
The Bisons are 16-10 overall, 11-6 in the A-Sun. Upstate drops to 4-23 overall, 3-14 in the conference.
The Bisons return to action Saturday at 6:30 against ETSU at 6:30 as part of a doubleheader with the women. Game time for the women’s game is 4 p.m.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.