|January 05, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||JU|
|FG Percentage||.492 (30-61)||.441 (26-59)|
|3P FG Percentage||.400 (8-20)||.450 (9-20)|
|FT Percentage||.500 (9-18)||.765 (13-17)|
- 13||Aamahne Santos
- 12||JD Notae
- 5||Tyreese Davis
Aamahne Santos - 4
- 3||Jace Hogan
PEPPER - 1
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four players scored in double figures and the Lipscomb men’s basketball team held off a pesky Jacksonville squad 77-74 Saturday night in the ASUN Conference opener at Swisher Gym in Jacksonville, Florida.
“I’m pleased that we won, you don’t ever take that for granted,” Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander said. “It wasn’t pretty and we have a lot to improve upon, but it’s good to go back home with a win under our belt.”
With ASUN Preseason Player of the Year Garrison Mathews unavailable against the Dolphins, Alexander and his Bisons (10-4, 1-0 ASUN) had to have guys step up in bigger roles. Eli Pepper was one of them.
The senior was a force to reckon with on both ends of the floor as he pulled down his second double-double of the season with 11 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. The Princeton, Kentucky native knocked down a team best three long balls – matching his career high.
“Eli was huge on both ends of the floor,” Alexander said. “I told him after the game I thought he was the most important piece for us, especially the most consistent. He got big rebounds and always defends well. It was good to see him knock down a few shots as well.
“The rest of the guys can learn a thing or two from how steady Eli has been.”
With his monster effort, Pepper tied former Bison Adnan Hodzic for the most career rebounds in Lipscomb’s NCAA era with 840.
In the early going, it was a game of runs. After JU scored the first five of the night, Lipscomb responded with the next eight after back-to-back buckets from Rob Marberry.
The teams traded blows and neither side was able to stretch the advantage until a 7-0 run gave the purple and gold a 34-26 lead with five minutes to play in the first half. The Dolphins wouldn’t go away, however, and hit a jumper at the buzzer to send the Bisons into the break leading 42-39.
“We had guys step up in moments throughout the game, Alexander said. “You can go back and point at several things guys did well – we created and extended leads several times, but then we gave them up. That can’t happen.”
Like it has a number of times this season, Lipscomb jumped on Jacksonville out of the gate in the second half and scored the first seven points to push its lead to 10. The Bisons lead ballooned to 14 and stayed in double figures for much of the final period before the Dolphins (7-9, 0-1 ASUN) strung together a 10-2 run with under five minutes to play.
Leading 73-64, the Bisons all of a sudden had trouble holding onto the ball and finishing the game. Seven turnovers and three missed free throws later, they were clinging to a 75-72 lead with 23 seconds remaining. In the final 10 seconds, Michael Buckland went to the line twice and hit 1-of-2 each time to all-but-secure the game.
“We have too many veteran players and too many guards that have been around a long time for us to not take care of the ball better than we did,” Alexander said.
Birthday boy Rob Marberry paced the team with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and pulled down six rebounds.
The Bisons shot 49.2 percent from the field (30-of-61), knocked down 8-of-20 from long range (40.0 percent) and hit 9-of-18 from the free throw line (50.0).
JU shot 44.1 percent (26-of-59) on field goals, 45.0 percent from 3-point range (9-of-20) and 76.5 percent from the stripe (13-of-17).
Aamahne Santos led the Dolphins with a game-high 17 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals. JD Notae chipped in a double-double behind 12 points and 13 boards.
- Lipscomb has now won three straight ASUN openers on the road and four of the last five.
- The Bisons outrebounded the Dolphins 35-29 and outscored them 10-2 in second chance points.
- Nate Moran made his second start of the year and responded with 10 points, three steals, two assists and two rebounds. He also knocked down a pair of 3-balls for the seventh time this season.
- Pepper’s 11 points marked the third time this season he scored in double figures and the first since scoring 16 at SMU on Nov. 17.
- Kenny Cooper dished a team best five assists to go along with eight points and five rebounds.
- Buckland added 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.
- Lipscomb is third in the nation with five wins on the road this season.
Lipscomb returns home next Wednesday to host North Florida at Allen Arena. Tip will be at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+.
“UNF is a dynamic offensive team and it starts in transition,” Alexander said. “Guarding them for 40 minutes, they will put a lot of pressure on you. We have to improve on protecting the ball better if we want to beat them next week.”