March 15, 2006
EL PASO, Texas _ The Lipscomb Bisons first ever trip to national postseason play has ended, but minutes after the last game of the season coach Scott Sanderson was already thinking about next year.
He stresses this will not be the last time the Bisons play on a national stage.
"We have a lot of kids coming back," said Sanderson. "We're hoping to have a very good recruiting class. We plan on being around for awhile."
The Bisons lost 85-66 Tuesday night to the Miners of Texas-El Paso in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament at Don Haskins Arena in front of 7,652 fans.
"Last year we went into the conference tournament in the first game against Jacksonville, and we were not very good at all," said Sanderson. "This year we came back and got all the way to the Atlantic Sun Conference championship game and were 29 seconds away from going to the NCAA Tournament.
"We will grow from this game. Next year, we will make references to this game. We will grow from this game like we did the Jacksonville game."
The loss also marked the final collegiate appearances for guard James Poindexter, center Shaun Durant, forward Cameron Robinson, forward Jason Guyette and guard Joe Peters. Sanderson spent a longer time than usual after the game talking with the players who will no longer be with the program.
"Four years ago we won six games," said Sanderson. "Three years ago we won eight. And then, all of a sudden, last year we won 16 games. And this year, the second year we are eligible, we go to postseason play. I know you lose sight of that.
"I've been so appreciative of James, Cam, Shaun, Jason and Joe. They have been great ambassadors for our university both on and off of the court. They have meant so much. They have put our school on the map in so many ways."
In the first half the Miners, known for their defensive prowess, shot a blistering 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the field, including 70 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range.
"I was not very happy at halftime the way we played," said Sanderson. "I told our guys I couldn't believe we were going to go out that way. I thought we were timid and scared in the first half."
The Miners scored on a lay-up off of the opening tip and never trailed in the half, opening up a lead of 21 points on three different occasions, including the halftime advantage of 44-23.
"Sometimes when a team makes shots the way they were making shots it has a tendency to demoralize you defensively," said Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson. "It honestly demoralized us and that is difficult to overcome."
The Bisons refused to give up. They started the second half with a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 14 (44-30) on a 3-point shot by guard James Poindexter at 19:01.
"I was proud of our effort in the second half," said Sanderson. "They were very resilient. That was who our team had been all year long. That has been the character and make-up of our team, and it showed in the second half."
But the Miners continued to control the game with 3-point shots, hitting 7-of-14 in the second half. They opened up their biggest lead at 67-44 with 8:02 left in the game.
With 5:09 remaining the Bisons once again pulled within 14 points at 70-56 after forward Eddie Ard slammed home a dunk and then went to the free throw line where he made a shot.
The Bisons were led in scoring by guard Brian Fisk with a game-high 23 points. Ard added 12. Ard also led the Bisons on the boards with eight.
Four Texas-El Paso players scored in double figures. Guard Stefon Jackson scored 22 followed by forward Jason Williams with 17. Williams became the first Texas-El Paso player to record a triple double. He also had a game-high 11 rebounds and a game-high 10 assists. Guards Edgar Moreno and Kevin Henderson each scored 13 points.
Texas-El Paso shot 57.7 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from 3-poinr range for the game.
"The weakest thing they do is shoot the ball," said Sanderson. "They were averaging in the low 30s from 3-point range and they were making all of them. With them shooting that way we weren't going to win. They were absolutely terrific in shooting the ball."
The Bisons closed out their season with a 21-11 record. The Miners, 21-9, head to Michigan for the next round of the NIT Thursday night.