“I don’t think this has hit me quite yet,” Hodzic, the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, said. “It is truly unfortunate. We felt like we were the ones.
“Kennesaw played a great game. I was looking at their 3-point shots and Kurtis Woods goes 5-for-7 and Kelvin McConnell is 4-for-4. Some of those shots were probably tough. I don’t remember right now. It is unfortunate that we couldn’t win.”
The Bisons, who entered the tournament here as the No. 1 seed, lost 72-69 to No.8-seed Kennesaw State at the University Center in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament Wednesday afternoon.
Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson, who thought his team had spent two good days in preparation for the tournament, pointed to one reason for the Bisons loss _ a lack of consistent defensive play.
“In a tournament setting the teams that defend the most are the ones that win usually,” Sanderson said. “We pick and choose when we guard. We have done that a lot this year. We have had this type of loss this season, but this is the most devastating.
"It’s not like a switch on the wall. You can’t say we are going to guard this possession and take the next possession off. You can’t do that in a tournament setting when every possession counts. We paid for it dearly.”
The Owls, not known for their 3-point shooting, used the long range shot for the second time this season to help beat the Bisons. They hit 11-of-27, a 40.7 percent rate.
“They have been streaky all year long,” Sanderson said. “We left them open a couple of times and they made some big shots. They either make a bunch of them or miss a bunch. They were shooting about 32 percent for the year from the 3-point line.”
The Bisons, sparked by a six-point run from guard Josh Slater turned a 39-35 Kennesaw State lead into a 41-39 Lipscomb advantage with 16:49 left in the game.
“They came out and scored on their first three possessions of the second half,” Sanderson said. “Then we guarded them five or six minutes and got back up to a five-point lead.”
The Owls would not let go, pulling within one point and then taking over the lead at 63-61 with 3:11 remaining on a 3-point shot by guard Woods.
Hodzic tied the game at 63-63 with 3:02 left to play. The Bisons led 67-65 with 1:30 remaining on a two-foot shot by forward Brandon Brown.
With 1:21 on the clock Woods connected on another 3-pointer for a 68-67 lead for the Owls.
Slater gave the Bisons a 69-68 lead with 59 seconds on the clock.
Trailing 70-69 the Bisons lost posession when the ball went out of bounds on their end of the court with 8.3 seconds to go.
Forced to foul the Bisons sent Markeith Cummings to the line for Kennesaw State with 6.1 second left. Cummings sank both ends of the one-and-one.
Lipscomb forward Jordan Burgason attempted a 3-point shot at the buzzer that missed its mark.
“We just did not get stops,” Sanderson said. “We traded baskets and traded baskets and they scored the last basket and went to the line and hit two free throws.
“Offensively, we were pretty much able to score. We didn’t shoot it as well as we have in the past, especially from the three-point line. It just comes down to defending people.”
Hodzic led with 29 points and 16 rebounds, both game highs. Slater added 15 points. Brown finished with 10.
Woods finished with 19 for Kennesaw State. McConnell added 14 and Cummings chipped in 13. Spencer Dixon finished with 11.
The Bisons opened the game with a 3-pointer from the corner by fBurgason 28 seconds into the first half.
The score was tied three times. With 31 seconds left in the first half Kennesaw State earned its first lead with a 3-pointer by Kelvin McConnell for a 34-33 advantage..
Kennesaw State mounted the comeback hitting five-of-seven 3-point attempts in the final 7:22 of the half.
The Bisons missed three shots from within a couple of feet of the basket as time expired in the first half.
Hodzic kept the Bisons in the game in the first 20 minutes scoring 15 points and adding eight rebounds.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations