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Bisons lose at the last second to North Florida 72-70

Friday, February 05, 2010

Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson spent a great amount of time postgame dealing with his players with what went wrong in Friday night’s 72-70 last second loss to North Florida.

He doesn’t plan to talk about it with them again.

Saturday morning when his Bisons hit the court for practice in preparation for Sunday’s game with Jacksonville Sanderson will be looking ahead, not behind. He is hopeful that his players will be ready to the same thing. The tip-off is at 1 p.m. at Allen Arena.

“We have to move on,” Sanderson said. “We can learn from the North Florida game, but we have to move on. I have to get this game out of my system too.

“I can’t afford to have a bad practice. I have to be into what is going on. How I handle practice Saturday is critical."

The Bisons are one-half game behind first place Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun standings. Jacksonville lost 73-70 Friday night at Belmont. The Dolphins enter the game Sunday with a 13-9 record overall, 9-4 in the conference. The Bisons are 12-11 overall, 9-5 in the A-Sun. Belmont is also 9-5.

Sanderson is concerned that his players don’t often bounce back well after a close loss. On Jan. 21 they lost 71-69 on a last second shot to ETSU at Allen Arena. They followed that game up with an 86-82 home loss to Campbell.

“We didn’t respond well against Campbell in the next game,” Sanderson said. “We did a horrible job. We let that linger into the Campbell game and it cost us. Now we are playing Jacksonville, the first place team. That is even more significant.”

A lack of defense was one of the main problems for the Bisons in the North Florida loss. North Florida, 11-12, 6-7 in the conference, shot 50 percent from the field for the game, 56 percent in the second half.

The biggest lead for North Florida was 16 points, 59-43, on layup by forward David Jeune with 9:58 left to play. The Bisons overcame second half deficits in their road wins at Belmont, ETSU and Campbell but Sanderson thought this was a different situation.

“We didn’t execute defensively at all,” Sanderson said. “And on every loose ball they got they picked up the ball and hit a big three.

“We couldn’t get stops. We didn’t guard anybody.”

The Bisons trailed 34-29 at the half and then allowed North Florida to score the first seven points of the second half for a 41-29 lead.

A 15-0 run cut a 59-43 North Florida lead to 59-58 with 5:34 left to play. The run was sparked by the 3-point shooting of guard Jordan Burgason and forward Michael Teller.

With North Florida on top 70-61 with 2:17 left the Bisons went on a 9-0 run to tie the game 70-70.

With 11 seconds left center Adnan Hodzic hit one of two free throws to tie the game.

With one second left guard Brad Haugabrook connected on a layup for the win.

“They wanted it more than we did,” Sanderson said. “That is the bottom line.”

One of the bright spots for the Bisons was the return of forward Brandon Brown to the line-up after a nine-game absence due to a shoulder injury. Brown scored on a lay-up on his first possession of the game. He finished with 10 points, hitting five-of-seven shots in 21 minutes of play. He also was credited with two steals.

“We need his effort and energy,” Sanderson said. “We need him back for sure.”

Hodzic struggled at the free throw line, but still managed to tie for the game-high in scoring with 23. Guard Eni Cuka also had 23 points for North Florida.

Hodzic has scored in double figures in 50 straight games, the longest active streak in the country. He also grabbed a game-leading 13 rebounds against North Florida to complete his fourth consecutive double-double.

Also in double figures for the Bisons were Burgason with 22 points, 15 on 3- point shots, and Josh Slater with 10.

On the negative side the Bisons have lost three games in a row on their home court. That is their longest streak since dropping four straight from Feb. 7-28 in 2003.

Also a big negative was the Bisons struggles at the free throw line. They hit only 15 of 29 free throw attempts, including only four-of-11 in the first half.

“We missed more free throws than we usually miss,” Sanderson said. “We let our inability to make free throws in the first half affect our energy.

“We had some big misses on free throws. Missing the free throws didn’t bother me as much as how it affected our energy level on the floor defensively.”

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations