|February 29, 2012||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||MER|
|FG Percentage||.317 (19-60)||.380 (19-50)|
|3P FG Percentage||.190 (4-21)||.321 (9-28)|
|FT Percentage||.688 (11-16)||.824 (14-17)|
SMITH - 1
WILLIAMS - 1
MACON, Ga. - Character. Pride. Tenaciousness.
All are words sometimes used to describe traits sports competition often brings out on athletes. These were more than mere words for the Lipscomb Bison here at the University Center on the campus of Mercer University.
They demonstrated them all and more in their 61-53 loss to Mercer in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament Wednesday night.
"I was very proud of the way our guys battled the whole game," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "They hung in there. They scrapped and clawed for everything they could possibly get.
"The character of the guys that are left was totally revealed in my opinion. That is what it is about. It is more than just a basketball game. The character of the people, and how they conduct themselves on and off of the court, is very, very important to me."
No No. 7-seed had beaten the No.2 seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament since Georgia State stopped Belmont in 2003. The Bison have not won in the postseason since 2009
But they had more than history against them. The Bison did not have strength in numbers. They played only seven players of the nine that dressed while Mercer countered with 12. Three of the Bison starters are freshmen.
Prior to the start of the game it was officially announced that Damarius Smith and Marvin Williams had both been suspended indefinitely and would not be participating in postseason play. Neither player traveled with the team.
"We were playing so many young kids who were thrust into playing 36 or 37 minutes for us," Sanderson said. "Obviously, we wanted to win but I was proud of the effort of our guys."
The Bison tied the game at 29-29 at intermission.
In the second half both teams struggled to score early. Deonte Alexander broke the ice at 17:49 when he sank a jump shot to that gave Lipscomb a 31-29 lead.
But the Bison, who last led in the game at 31-29 with 17:49 on the clock, never could regain the lead.
In the final 32 seconds Mercer was a perfect six-of-six from the free throw line.
Freshman guard Zavion Williams led the Bison in scoring with 17 points. Guard Jacob Arnett, playing in his last game as a Bison, added 11. Forward Malcolm Smith chipped in 10.
Williams finished the season strong after having surgery on both of his knees in December.
"My legs are better," Williams said. "I'm running faster and jumping higher. I'm not as tentative. I'm ready to play basketball like I used to play."
Center Justin Glenn, who also closed out his college career, tied for the game high in rebounds with nine for the Bison.
Williams, one of the freshmen, stressed that the team decided to turn the negatives of the past few weeks into as positive a situation as possible.
"We looked at it as an opportunity to play longer," Williams said. "A lot of us, especially the freshmen, came from little schools where we took most of the shots anyway.
"We didn't look at it as a downside. We had what we had and had to play regardless. No one was going to take it for granted."
Jakob Gollon scored a game-high 19 points for Mercer. Langston Hall and Travis Smith each scored 11. Bud Thomas scored 10 and added nine rebounds.
The Bison finished the season 13-18. They were 5-4 on the road in the A-Sun, the only team in the conference to have a better record away from home. Mercer is 22-10.
"We knew Lipscomb was going to bring everything it had," Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said. "I know they had been through a lot. When you are a coach you feel for other guys going through those circumstances.
"Scott has stood up for what is right. His guys rallied around him and played unbelievable."