|January 24, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||LIP|
|FG Percentage||.475 (28-59)||.446 (29-65)|
|3P FG Percentage||.444 (12-27)||.448 (13-29)|
|FT Percentage||.650 (13-20)||.783 (18-23)|
CARLYLE - 2
SCOTT - 2
NASHVILLE – In a rematch of last season’s ASUN Championship game, it was expected to be a battle from tip to the final buzzer. Thursday night in Nashville, that is exactly what took place.
The Lipscomb men’s basketball team battled through a number of obstacles, but when it was all said and done, the Bisons emerged victorious 89-81 over Florida Gulf Coast in front of nearly 2,000 fans inside Allen Arena.
“I was worried about it for almost the whole game,” Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander said. “You have to give them (FGCU) credit. They came in with a good plan and did a lot of really good things. They have a lot of talent and their guys played with a lot of confidence.”
There is no denying Lipscomb’s senior guard Garrison Mathews was the best player on the court Thursday. He hit six three-pointers, including a pair of clutch ones in the final five minutes when the Bisons were trailing, and closed the night with a double-double on 31 points and 10 rebounds. It was the third-highest individual scoring performance of the season in the ASUN.
“It’s a big win. We flirted with it a little bit, but we were fortunate to come away with the win,” Mathews said. “Any win in conference is a good win, so we will take it.
“They (FGCU) have probably been our biggest rival over the past couple years. We knew they would come in here hot after what happened last year in the championship. We knew we would get their best game.”
Mathews caught fire in the second half, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He also hit four of his three-balls in the final stanza.
The Bisons (15-4, 5-0 ASUN) controlled much of the first half, building their lead to as many as 14 on a layup from Ahsan Asadullah to make it 40-26 with 2:12 left to play in the first half. The Eagles (7-14, 2-4) scored the next seven points and the team’ went into the half with Lipscomb leading 42-35.
Senior Matt Rose continued his hot shooting and led the Bisons in the opening half with nine points off the bench after drilling 3-of-5 from long range in just 11 minutes.
FGCU took that momentum into the second half and eventually regained their second lead of the night at 56-55 when Brian Thomas laid one in with just over 11 minutes to play.
The Bisons and Eagles traded blows over the next 10 minutes with neither side getting an advantage larger than three until Mathews swished a trey to cap a personal 7-0 run with under two minutes remaining, giving Lipscomb a 78-72 lead. Fellow senior Nate Moran faked an over-the-top pass and buried one from deep seconds later to extend the Bisons lead to eight.
Lipscomb sealed the win at the free throw line, finishing 8-for-8 in the final minute.
As part of an 18-for-23 night at the stripe for the Bisons, Mathews knocked down 7-of-8 to move him over 500 career makes at the line.
“Coach is always harping about being aggressive and getting to the line,” Mathews said. “This year I haven’t done it as well as I have in the past. It really helped my game and it’s something I need to get back to.”
Lipscomb extended its season-best winning streak to six games and improved the home record to 9-1.
“You see experienced players making the big plays at the end,” Alexander said. “This was the first close game that we’ve won in a good long while, no doubt it will help us down the stretch. You are going to see it all as the season goes along, so it’s better to see it now and be prepared for when it happens again.”
- The Bisons have now won 14 straight games against conference opponents, making it the second-longest streak in the nation behind Gonzaga (19) after Murray State fell on Thursday.
- Lipscomb also improved to 14-1 at home in its last 15 contests.
- With his effort, Mathews recorded his eighth-career 30-point game. It was also the 50th time in four years he has gone over the 20-point plateau, the most in the ASUN by a wide margin.
- Rose and Michael Buckland each scored 11 to finish as the only other Bisons in double figures.
- Rob Marberry’s 33-game streak with 10 or more points came to a halt after finishing with eight on 3-of-6 shooting. He did match a career high with five assists.
- Kenny Cooper recorded six points and dished out a team-high six assists.
- Lipscomb shot 47 percent from the floor (29-of-65), and 45 percent from long range (13-of-29). It was the most treys in a game for the Bisons since knocking down 14 against Stetson in the first round of the ASUN Tournament last season.
- The Eagles shot 48 percent overall (28-of-59) and 44 percent from deep (12-of-27). They also hit 13-of-20 (65 percent) at the free throw line.
- The Bisons outrebounded the Eagles 39-28 and forced 18 FGCU turnovers.
Lipscomb hits the road for three of its next four games. The Bisons get the trip started on Sunday in DeLand, Florida against Stetson at 3 p.m., before heading north for an ASUN heavyweight battle at Liberty on Tuesday.