|March 27, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||ST|
|FG Percentage||.500 (34-68)||.528 (38-72)|
|3P FG Percentage||.500 (14-28)||.474 (9-19)|
|FT Percentage||.706 (12-17)||.615 (8-13)|
DORN - 2
DANIELS - 2
FUNDERBURK - 2
RALEIGH, N.C. – If you weren’t tuned in to the NIT quarterfinals between No. 5 Lipscomb and No. 2 North Carolina State Wednesday night you may have missed the most exciting college basketball game March madness has had to offer.
The Bisons came away with a 94-93 win in a thrilling, back-and-forth heavyweight battle for a spot in the NIT semifinals. With the win, Lipscomb is headed to Madison Square Garden in New York City to take on No. 6 Wichita State.
“It was an awesome win for our program, I’ll tell you that,” head coach Casey Alexander said. “I’m completely proud of guys that hung in there, guys that got us off to great starts, and guys that finished it up for us. That last four or five minutes with the noise, what we had to play through, and coming from behind-- these guys made plays.
“We’re a good team. We’ve won big road games already. We have a lot of experience and every time they came over to the huddle they thought they were going to win. There’s not much a coach can say or do about that; that’s these guys believing in what they’re doing and performing when their number is called and getting the result that we wanted. I’m really proud.”
The Bisons (28-7) will match up with Wichita State (22-14) on April 2 at historic Madison Square Garden in a 6 p.m. CT tip on ESPN.
ASUN Conference Player of the Year Garrison Mathews hit big shot after big shot all night for the Bisons, pouring in a program Division I record 44 points, but it was junior point guard Kenny Cooper who came through with the two biggest shots of the night, scoring the final five points including the game-winning floater with 1.7 seconds remaining.
“It’s what we work all year for: the big moment,” Cooper said. “Kudos to Garrison Mathews. He had two people on him and he had 44 and I was like, ‘He should shoot this ball,’ and the selflessness of him just to make that extra pass and to get me that shot speaks a lot about him.”
Only one player in history has ever scored more points against the Wolfpack than Mathews did Wednesday night, but those 44 were the most ever scored by an opposing player inside Reynolds Coliseum, which dates back to 1949.
“My teammates were giving me great passes and great screens that were helping me get open a little bit,” Mathews said. “I can’t thank them enough for that. I haven’t been shooting very well the past few games so it was just nice to get off to a little bit of a start and it just kept going. I was fortunate for that.”
With 26 seconds on the clock and NC State inbounding while up 91-89, Cooper stole the inbounds pass and got it to Mathews on the left wing, who then passed up two looks from deep to swing it back over to Cooper in the corner. After going 1-of-5 from beyond the arc up to that point, Cooper hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to make it 92-91 with 20.6 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, NC State’s Markell Johnson drove the lane for a bucket that put the Wolfpack back in front with nine seconds to go. Cooper responded.
He took the ball inbounds and got past Johnson near midcourt with a cross behind the back before pulling up from 10 feet out in the paint with one-handed floater that found the bucket with 1.7 seconds on the clock, leaving the 5,500 in attendance stunned.
NC State got off a half-court heave that never came close, sending the Bisons onto the court in pure elation.
“We knew we weren’t calling a timeout either way, our guys know what we do depending on how much time is left on the clock,” Alexander said. “They know whether we’re going to throw it in and race it down the floor or whether we’re going to throw it long, and so they executed that part right.
“It’s very easy to panic in the situation, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do. We didn’t get a great shot, but he (Cooper) made a great shot. We got a good one. It was good enough. It was a 15-footer by a guy who had just made a big one right before that. It was good.”
It didn’t take long to see just how hot Mathews was. The senior scored the first 11 points for the Bisons and never let up. He poured it in from every angle, going 14-of-24 from the floor and 8-of-13 from 3-point land.
Mathews also led the team in rebounding (8) for the second-straight game and drained 8-of-11 from the free throw line.
Cooper was the only other Bison in double-figures with 12 points. He also added seven assists, four rebounds and four steals to his line.
NC State’s Torin Dorn went blow-for-blow with Mathews in the game, scoring a career-best 34 points to go along with nine rebounds. The senior made 15-of-22 shots from the floor to close his career.
Johnson scored all of his 19 points after halftime, including 11 straight at one stretch. He finished 6-of-10 and added a perfect night from three-point land with four makes.
Despite going into the locker room at the half down 47-38 after a 3-pointer at the buzzer from NC State, the Bisons came out charging early in the second half.
They shot 62 percent and drilled eight 3-pointers after half to storm back to victory. Better ball security was on display in the second half as well with 15 assists to only five turnovers.
For the game, Lipscomb recorded its second-best game of the season from deep by going 14-of-28. Cooper and Matt Rose each hit a pair behind Mathews’ career-high tying eight.
- The Bisons now have more road wins than any other team in the nation this season, with tonight’s victory giving them 14. UC Irvine and Stony Brook each have 13.
- This was Lipscomb’s first victory in three tries against ACC opponents this season after falling at Louisville (72-68) and at Clemson (84-67).
- Dorn’s 34 points led a quartet of Wolfpack double-digit scorers (Johnson - 19, CJ Bryce - 10, Devon Daniels - 10).
- Mathews’ 44-point outburst was the highest in the ASUN this season, and it puts him just eight points from North Florida’s Dallas Moore for the 2nd-most points in conference history with 2,429. Centenary’s Willie Jackson is the leader with 2,535.
- The senior Rose totaled nine points and five rebounds off the bench for the Bisons.
- Freshman Ahsan Asadullah scored eight points and tied his career high with a team-best four blocked shots. Rose, Cooper and Rob Marberry also added blocks.
- Marberry also finished with eight points with three assists.
- Junior Michael Buckland dished out a season-high six assists.
- Senior Eli Pepper pulled down five rebounds, putting him just two shy of 1,000 for his career.
- Cooper made a three-pointer for the 15th consecutive game after making one in just six of his first 19 outings.
- Lipscomb is the second team in ASUN history to reach the NIT Quarterfinals joining Arkansas Little Rock in 1987.
- NC State won the rebounding battle 41-32, including a 15-10 offensive edge.
- The Bisons did record their 3rd-best assist game of the season with 24 helpers, compared to 15 for NC State.
- There were 13 lead changes, 11 ties, and Lipscomb lead for just over six minutes of gameplay.
- The Bisons scored 23 points off the bench, 26 off fast breaks, and 19 off turnovers.
Lipscomb will travel to NYC to take on Wichita State in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPN and the winner will face either Texas or TCU for the championship.