|April 02, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||WSU||LIPS|
|FG Percentage||.353 (24-68)||.365 (23-63)|
|3P FG Percentage||.217 (5-23)||.273 (9-33)|
|FT Percentage||.786 (11-14)||.842 (16-19)|
- 13||Garrison Mathews
Samajae Haynes-Jones - 8
Jamarius Burton - 3
- 2||Kenny Cooper
- 2||Eli Pepper
Garrison Mathews - 2
NASHVILLE - Every basketball player grows up dreaming of winning a big game in Madison Square Garden. On Tuesday night, the Lipscomb men’s basketball team did just that.
The Bisons mounted a late second-half comeback in the NIT semifinals to take down Wichita State 71-64 off the back of Garrison Mathews’ 34 points.
Lipscomb is headed to the NIT Championship game, a first in ASUN history, after a 14-0 run to close out the win.
Mathews’ brilliant postseason run continues as he became the first player with back-to-back 30 point outings in the NIT since 2011.
The senior scored the go-ahead three-pointer with just over one minute left in the action, putting the exclamation point on a 21-3 Lipscomb run. The Bisons held Wichita State without a bucket in the final eight minutes.
Perhaps the most crucial bucket of the 21-3 run came with just over three minutes as fifth-year senior Nate Moran nailed a triple, his only bucket of the game, cutting the Shockers lead to four.
Senior forward Rob Marberry joined Mathews in double-figures with 14 points, while fellow senior big man Eli Pepper was a monster on the glass by grabbing 15 rebounds.
Pepper joined the 1,000 rebound club after his second board of the game. He is the first Bison in the Division I era to pull down that many rebounds, placing tied for third in ASUN history.
Junior point guard Kenny Cooper dished out 10 assists and swiped three steals, both team highs.
Lipscomb led 35-30 at halftime after coming out of the gates strong.
Mathews scored 10 points in the first eight minutes of the game to pass North Florida’s Dallas Moore for second place on the ASUN’s all-time scoring list.
Wichita State answered with a hot second half, going on a 16-3 run to take a commanding 11-point lead with eight minutes left to play.
Lipscomb (29-7) will face Texas in the NIT final on Thursday 7 p.m.
Wichita State (22-15) was paced by Dexter Dennis with 13 points, while Markis McDuffie added 12 and Samara Haynes-Jones notched 11.
Head Coach Casey Alexander’s opening thoughts:
“I just tell you, all I'll say in the opening statement is what I told our team there in the locker room there, it was really brief. I said, if there's one thing somebody asked me about our team is that we've got tough kids. Nathan Moran had a really bad night, and I put him in to shoot a big shot and he shot it and made it, got a hand off to Garrison, got to have it and he tied and he makes it. He makes all his free throws down the stretch, and our team gets seven straight stops to finish the game, and that's a tough team, so really proud of them.
Rob Marberry on making the comeback:
“To be honest with you we've been in this position a good amount so we've seen it before. We know we can come back and when the pressure gets on, we've been pulling through lately and we try to settle down and do what we do and get some stops and it worked out for us.”
Garrison Mathews on making shots down the stretch:
“I went cold there for a little while, so it was good to finally knock one down for my team and help them kind of get over the hump. We got some key stops and big rebounds -- we had 15 rebounds which was huge for us. So it was good to do it for the team and kind of give us a lift.
Mathews on the Lipscomb fans:
“Yeah, it's pretty awesome having all those people here. We had like a sea of purple come in all at once and I was pretty shocked about it, seeing all those people come. We're really fortunate for the fan base that we have this year and last year, too. But yeah, it was kind of disappointing after the Liberty loss, but they are as resilient as we are coming back and cheering us on for these last games.
Mathews on Lipscomb being a known team nationally:
“I think people should know about us now, wining conference last year, playing UNC, pretty close to the end. And then this year, we're still playing, we're one of four teams still playing after the first two games of the Final Four from March Madness. So any time that a team is playing in late March and early April, it's a pretty big deal. They are a great team and I think people can finally see that Lipscomb is a basketball school now.
Alexander on what was different in the second half:
“We did very little different, honestly. I actually felt like the quality of shots in the second half was better than the first. They just didn't go in. So that 12-minute time-out, that eightminute time-out when things were not going our way, two things. One, they got in a rhythm offensively, and that's atypical of us defensively, so we just tried to gather ourselves there and try to get a little bit more solid on the defensive end. Then I just challenged the guys to perform. You know, you can't win a game like this against a good team without guys performing when their number is called, and so they responded.”
Alexander on what beating Wichita State says about the program:
“Well, it says a lot about our program and the current state of it. We've got some guys with three straight 20-win seasons and an NCAA Tournament last year AND three road wins in the NIT before we came here, so they have accomplished a lot. Not to put ourselves on the same platform as Wichita State and what they have done, especially in the postseason, but in the last ten years, but it's a building block for us obviously. We're going to live in the moment and enjoy every minute that we have now with this team, but we want to be able to look back five, ten years from now and say where it all started 2018 tournament, and 2019, great NIT run, and hopefully they will be talking about us in that vein.”
Alexander on trusting his players:
“You know, it's easy to say up here after you win a game like that, but I really do trust our players. I never doubt where they are mentally. I never doubt their want-to. And so it's a little easier to stay composed and it's a little easier just to keep coaching the game. They are the ones that have to perform and make the plays, but we try to put them in good positions to do that, and when you've got good players and a good team that plays together, then, you know, they are going to perform.”
- Lipscomb is the fourth ASUN team to reach a national championship final joining the FGCU women’s basketball in the WNIT, Mercer men’s basketball in the CIT, and FIU in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament.
- Lipscomb also joins the legendary 1986 squad as the only other group to play in a men’s basketball championship final. The 1986 Bisons won the NAIA national championship.
- The Bisons are now 2-0 against American Athletic Conference (AAC) teams after taking down SMU 79-73 on the road in November.
- Pepper and Mathews tied for the team lead with two blocks each. Mathews’ total tied his career high.
- Wichita State out-rebounded Lipscomb 45-40, but Lipscomb dished out 17 assists to the Shockers’ 10.
- The Bisons bench notched 17 points to Wichita State’s 11.
- The Purple and Gold held the Shockers to 35 percent shooting from the field, including 21 percent from behind the arc.
- Lipscomb scored 14 fastbreak points and 13 points off turnovers, but only four second-chance points.
- Mathews shot 9-22 from the field, 5-15 from three, and 11-12 from the free throw line.
- Marberry built on his stellar field goal percentage, shooting 7-9 from the field.
- The Bisons made 16 of 19 free throws, while Wichita State shot 11-14 from the charity stripe.
- Lipscomb attempted season-high 33 three’s, with 19 coming in the first half, also a high for a single half.