|November 20, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||BEL||LIP|
|FG Percentage||.391 (27-69)||.377 (23-61)|
|3P FG Percentage||.250 (8-32)||.200 (4-20)|
|FT Percentage||.611 (11-18)||.607 (17-28)|
Muszynski - 16
Pierson - 1
Sheppard - 1
WOLFE - 1
JONES - 1
HAZEN - 1
ASADULLAH - 1
NASHVILLE - The action was back-and-forth during an electric Battle of the Boulevard on Wednesday night, but the Lipscomb men’s basketball team came up just short, falling to Belmont 73-67 in Allen Arena.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we sure played hard,” head coach Lennie Acuff said. “We got down pretty good in the second half and was short handed the last 10 minutes, but our guys kept fighting, clawing and scraping their way to stay in it.
“Belmont is a good team and they’ve been playing fantastic, but we had a chance tonight and that’s all we wanted at the end. I was really, really proud of our guys.”
Despite dropping its fourth straight game, Lipscomb (1-4) continued its trend of fighting until the last whistle.
With just under five minutes to play the Bisons found themselves down 13 and without two of their starters. After trading baskets with the Bruins, the home team put together a 6-0 run behind makes from Greg Jones and Andrew Fleming to pull Lipscomb within four at 71-67 with 1:34 on the clock.
Following a pair of stops on the defensive end that gave the Bisons their chances, Lipscomb turned the ball over out of bounds and heaved a contested transition three-pointer on back-to-back possessions that ultimately allowed Belmont to sink a pair of game-clinching free throws in the final 15 seconds.
“We have the ball twice down four in the last minute and we didn’t get very good shots,” Acuff said. “I have to do a better job of getting us organized down the stretch. We just got a little ahead of ourselves, but our guys are fighting like crazy and showing a lot of heart right now.”
The win was the third-straight in the series by the Bruins and their 14th in the last 16.
In the first half the Bisons found themselves trailing by as many as seven points, but eventually got things going with runs of 10-0 and 14-5 to take a 33-32 lead into the half against the Bruins. Junior Parker Hazen grabbed the miss off a three and beat the buzzer with a put back that give him six points and six rebounds in the opening half.
Like they had done all season, Belmont wasted little time in making a big run in the second half. The visiting Bruins exploded for a 16-2 spurt out of the locker room to take a 48-25 advantage at the 14:17 mark.
Stout defense and a late flurry of points nearly brought the Bisons back into the lead, but Belmont held on to win down the stretch.
Andrew Fleming paced Lipscomb with a career-high 18 points after being targeted as the go-to scorer when Michael Buckland and Jake Wolfe went to the sideline in the final 10 minutes. The senior scored 14 of his points over the final nine minutes and finished 7 of 8 from the free throw line with five rebounds.
Freshman KJ Johnson was integral in his first “Battle”, playing a career-high 27 minutes on the night. The scrappy lefty scored 10 of his career-high tying 16 points in the second half and made big plays all night when the Bisons needed them the most.
“KJ’s got the heart of a lion,” Acuff said. “He doesn’t have one inch of backup in him at all. I will go to war with him every day.”
Despite a tough shooting night, sophomore Ahsan Asadullah almost posted a double-double with nine points and a career-high 15 rebounds. He also led the Bisons with three assists.
A strong defensive effort allowed Lipscomb to limit the high-powered Belmont offense. The Bruins entered the game averaging 89.2 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and 42 percent from deep. The Bisons allowed Belmont to hit just 27 of 69 shot attempts (39%) from the floor, and 8 of 32 from beyond the arc (25%).
“I was very, very thankful for the crowd we had tonight,” Acuff said. “I thought our student section was incredible and it was a great atmosphere. I’ve watched a lot of these games on television, but this was my first time being a part of it.”
- Lipscomb hit just 37.7 percent from the floor (23 of 61), and 60.7 percent from the free throw line (17 of 28).
- The Bisons struggled from behind the arc for the second consecutive game, shooting just 4-20 from downtown. They are now 4-of-38 over that stretch.
- Despite allowing 17 offensive rebounds, the purple and gold held a slight 46-45 advantage on the boards and a 20-18 margin in second-chance points.
- Acuff’s squad did a good job of taking care of the ball, turning it over just 12 times, but they managed only nine assists – marking the third straight game with a single-digit assist total.
- Hazen was active throughout the game, collecting eight points and seven rebounds while manning the Bisons full court press late in the action.
- Before each exited the contest with injuries in the second half, Wolfe had scored seven points, while Buckland had amassed six points and a season-high seven rebounds.
- Nick Muszynski and Adam Kunkel paced the Bruins with 16 points apiece, while sophomore point guard Grayson Murphy completed a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 13 boards.
- Wednesday’s meeting marked the first time since 1975 that neither Don Meyer or Rick Byrd roamed the sidelines in the annual matchup.
Lipscomb travels to Annapolis, Maryland on Friday to take on Navy. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
“We are in the middle of a murderer's row right now,” Acuff said. “We have to go and get on the plane tomorrow morning and head to Navy.”