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Mercer (13-9, 6-3 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (8-12, 3-6 A-Sun)
1/26/2013 | Nashville, Tenn. (Allen Arena) | Attendance: 2926
Saturday, January 26, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Heading into the game knowing it would be difficult to score against a stingy Mercer defense, the Lipscomb men’s basketball team struggled offensively against the Bears falling 71-65 in Atlantic Sun Conference action at Allen Arena on Saturday night.
The first five minutes of the second half proved to be the difference in the contest as Mercer (13-9, 6-3 A-Sun) went on a 17-6 run to secure a lead that the Bisons (8-12, 3-6 A-Sun) could not surmount.
“That game was lost in the first five minutes of the second half,” said Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson. “We dug ourselves a hole but to the guys’ credit, they kept battling back.”
Mercer opened the second half by hitting 10 of their first 12 shots from the field. That combined with the Bisons hitting only 4-of-15 to open the frame resulted in the A-Sun preseason favorite Bears taking a 56-41 advantage.
The shots finally started falling for Lipscomb in the final 10 minutes of the contest as senior guard Deonte Alexander tried to will a comeback with 12 of his team-high 20 points down the stretch. The Bisons would pull within three at 68-65 when Alexander completed a 4-point play with 41 seconds remaining but the Bears would make three of their last four free throws to seal the win.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids.,” said Sanderson. “In this league you can’t just play the last five minutes against the team that was picked to win our league. They’re a very good team on both ends of the floor and they’re hard to score against.”
Along with 20 from Alexander, Lipscomb got 16 points from sophomore forward Malcolm Smith and 10 points from redshirt freshman center Stephen Hurt. Khion Sankey pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for the Bisons.
Lipscomb finished with a 36-28 advantage on the boards and were able to finish with 23 second-chance points. Those rebounds would not be enough to overcome shooting 35 percent from the floor for the night however.
Free throws also played a big part in the game as Mercer went to the stripe 34 times and made 26 while Lipscomb was 20-of-26.
Travis Smith led the way for Mercer with a game-high 22 points as Bears head coach Bob Hofffman notched his 400th career win.
Lipscomb continues A-Sun action on Thursday with a road trip to take on USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. from the “Palmetto State”