Feb. 24, 2006
One game. Forty more minutes. A rematch with Kennesaw State, the team that gave them their first Atlantic Sun Conference loss of the season.
That is what the Lipscomb Bisons have to overcome to claim at least a share of the A-Sun regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament.
The Bisons stayed alive Friday night with a come-from-behind 76-56 win over East Tennessee State in front of 2,039 in Allen Arena. The game was also televised live on CSS.
The Bisons remain tied with Belmont for first place in the conference with a 15-5 record, 18-9 overall. East Tennessee slipped to 12-7 in the conference, 15-11 overall.
"It's a long hard fight," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. `We have been working since September. If we think it is over we are kidding ourselves.
`We aren't changing anything. All we are trying to do is improve on what we have been doing all year long."
The Bisons didn't take the easy way to victory. They shot a tepid 35,5 percent in the first half while allowing East Tennessee to hit at a 43.3 clip.
"To start the game out we took some really quick shots," said Sanderson. `They weren't going down. And when they weren't going down East Tennessee was running the ball down our throats."
Twice trailing by 15 points the Bisons chipped away slowly but surely. With 11:22 left in the first half the Bisons trailed 23-8. They would eventually pull within three points at 33-30 with 59 seconds left before intermission on a 3-pointer by guard James Poindexter.
"We trailed them 21-6 and then we outscored them 70-35," said Sanderson. "People think we were making shots, but that wasn't. It was defense, absolute defense.
"Our trademark is to get down and defend people. In the first half we didn't do much of that. East Tennessee made some tough shots."
The Bisons struggled defensively, especially against Courtney Pigram who scored 16 first half points. East Tennessee scored 16 points off of turnovers by the Bisons in the first half.
In the second half the Bisons continued to keep the game close. They took over the lead at 38-37 on a 3-point shot by Trey Williams at the 15:24 mark.
East Tennessee State would briefly retake the lead at 14:32 when a jump shot by Dillion Sneed provided a 39-38 edge,
Forward Eddie Ard answered with a jump shot 14 seconds later to give the Bisons a 40-39 advantage. It was lead they would retain for the rest of the game.
The Bisons led by 14 points at 56-42 with 10:18 left on a lay-up by Poindexter. A little more than three minutes later East Tennessee had pulled to within five at 58-53 on a lay-up by Tim Smith.
A lay-up by forward Cameron Robinson gave the Bisons a 63-53 points bulge with 5:43 on the clock. They kept a double-figures lead the rest of the way, taking a 20-point lead with 53 seconds left.
Poindexter lead the Bisons in scoring with 16 points followed by Ard with 15 and Fisk with 14. Guard Trey Williams scored a season-high 12 points and also made five steals. Ard also pulled down a team-leading 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Robinson just missed a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.
"It was a team win, but Cameron Robinson came in and played like a stud," said Sanderson.
Ard's double-double was his second against East Tennessee. He scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against them on Dec. 3.
Ard made six steals and Williams had five takeaways, both individual season highs.
Pigram lead all scorers with 20 points. Sneed recorded a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
At halftime fans celebrated the NAIA era of basketball at Lipscomb with the retirement of the jerseys worn by John Pierce, the all-time scorer in college basketball history and Philip Hutcheson, who held the title until Pierce beat him.
"Those two guys, along with many other people, have been the foundation of this program," said Sanderson. "They made it into the power that it is. We are just trying to continue that on the Division I level."
The Bisons close out the regular season Sunday at 1 p.m. with "Senior Day" against Kennesaw State at Allen Arena.
"We have six seniors going out," said Sanderson. "They have had remarkable careers here in doing what they have on the Division I level. I would hope that people will come out and cheer our basketball team on Sunday afternoon."