SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A fast break layup down the left side of court by Michael Lusk with a couple ticks on the clock to put the Bisons up by one. It almost happened in the Lipscomb University Bisons 57-56 loss against USC Upstate Monday afternoon in the Hodge Center in Spartanburg, S.C.
Instead an inadvertent whistle was blown with eight seconds left on the clock as Lusk steamed past half court with the defenders attempting to catch him.
“I told my guys that if they scored to take the ball all the way to the basket and don’t call timeout because I don’t want the defense to get set,” Sanderson said. “So Mike’s trying to drive to the basket and the guy gives me a timeout. I didn’t want a timeout, but that is just part of the game.”
But the Bisons should never have been in a position to let an error that they had no control over potentially affect the game’s outcome.
There were two stretches where the Bisons didn’t score for approximately five minutes, or hitting just five-of-ten free throws in the final six minutes. Lipscomb turned the ball over 18 times which USC Upstate converted into 22 points. Ten turnovers were unforced and the Bisons didn’t score a basketball in the final 5:30.
Lipscomb began the game making four of their first nine attempts and held its largest lead of the day when they went up 15-10 on a layup by Adnan Hodzic with 10:44 left in the first.
After a layup by Thomas Pfaff put the Bisons up 19-15 with 7:42 left, the Bisons shooting went dead cold. Lipscomb missed eight straight attempts over 5:08. When Hodzic connected on a layup with 2:34 left in the half, Lipscomb found itself down 27-21.
“As soon as things don’t go our way we don’t have the internal leadership to come back to our guys and say let’s sit down and guard somebody,” Sanderson said.
Lusk connected on the second of two free throws with 1:38 left to bring the Bisons to within five. Carter Cook slashed across the lane for a layup and then nailed a three on the next possession to put the Spartans up 32-22 at the half.
“We lost the game in the last nine minutes of the first half,” Sanderson said.
Lipscomb only connected on four of its final 19 shots going into halftime. The Bisons shot 28.6 percent for the period.
Lipscomb opened the second half on a 7-2 run to bring the game to five (34-29). USC Upstate called a timeout and responded with a 7-0 run over 4:42 to extend their lead to 12 (41-29). Hodzic connected on a layup with 12:36 remaining end the run.
Lipscomb went on a 12-3 run after USC Upstate 7-foot-3 center Nick Schneiders went to the bench after being whistled for his fourth foul with 11:50 left.
Josh Slater hit a 3-pointer with 8:52 remaining to give the Bisons their first lead (45-43) since the first half.
Lipscomb went up 52-47 when Hodzic nailed a layup in the paint with 5:30 left. A defensive breakdown on the opposite end gave preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection Bobby Davis a wide-open dunk.
The Spartans were carried down the stretch by Davis who scored 16 consecutive points for the Spartans in the last nine minutes until Carter Cook nailed a jumper on the left wing to put USC Upstate up one with 11 seconds left.
“We held them to 25 percent shooting in the second half,” Sanderson said. “But we didn’t rebound and got beat by allowing 12 offensive rebounds.”
Hodzic led the Bisons with 17 points. Slater added 15. The duo has scored in double figures in each of the last four games.
Lipscomb was 14-of-20 (70 percent) at the free throw line. Slater was a perfect 7-of-7. USC Upstate was six-of-ten (60 percent) at the line.
Lipscomb held a 43-32 advantage on the boards. The Bisons grabbed 15 of the first 18 rebounds in the game. Michael Teller led Lipscomb with 8 boards. Bobby Davis led USC Upstate with 7.
Slater and Teller each had four assists.
Lipscomb shot 18-of-48 (37.5 percent) on the afternoon. USC Upstate hit 21-of-59 (35.6 percent) from the field.
Lipscomb was four-of-eight (50 percent) from the 3-point line. USC Upstate was 6-of-20 (30 percent). The Spartans were 1-of-11 in the second half.
The Bisons at 6-11, 2-6 Atlantic Sun, have now lost five in a row. USC Upstate is 3-14, 2-6 in the Atlantic Sun.
“I feel bad for my guys,” Sanderson said. “If they weren’t fighting and scratching and clawing for everything it would be different. But they are and our people should be proud the way they are fighting through adversity. We have to learn how to close out games”
Lipscomb falls to 6-11, 2-6 in the Atlantic Sun. USC Upstate is 3-14, 2-6 in the Atlantic Sun.
The Bisons are back in action Saturday afternoon in Allen Arena against Mercer. Game time is 4:15 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the Lady Bisons.
Benjamin Seamon will be on the call for the Lipscomb Sports Network. Free online audio streaming is available at www.LipscombSports.com/sportsnetwork/. The game can also be seen on ASun.TV.
Article by Trevor Garrett of the Lipscomb Athletic Office of Media Relations