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North Florida (9-7, 3-0 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (5-9, 0-3 A-Sun)
1/4/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. - Allen Arena | Attendance: 762
Saturday, January 04, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The postgame talk by Lipscomb men’s basketball head coach Casey Alexander was a short one, but the gravity of the words was understood by his audience.
“The only thing said in the locker room was that we are on a mission to win Monday night no matter what it takes,” Alexander said.
The Bisons had just suffered a 78-73 Atlantic Sun Conference loss to North Florida at Allen Arena Saturday afternoon when Alexander made his statement. The Bisons, 5-9 overall, 0-3 in the Atlantic Sun, have one day to prepare for a visit from Jacksonville at 5 p.m. on Monday.
The loss to North Florida, 9-7, 3-0 in the A-Sun, was an especially tough one. It was the first Atlantic Sun game of the season in front of a home crowd and the first home game in 29 days.
It was also a game of momentum with the score tied 11 times and the lead changing 16 times.
The Bisons trailed 38-37 at the half.
In the second half North Florida took a 71-60 lead with 2:45 left to play, but the Bisons were not done. Using four points from guard J.C. Hampton and 3-pointers from guard Khion Sankey and forward Martin Smith the Bisons cut the lead to 71-70 to cap a 10-point run.
But North Florida would not relinquish the lead holding on for the victory.
Alexander was not surprised by the resiliency of his players.
“I think it is part of their DNA to keep fighting the fight,” Alexander said. “We are fortunate that is the case.
“We have a lot of tough guys with a lot of character. They are going to give us a chance to win.”
Alexander’s preparations for Jacksonville would be no different if the Bisons had beaten North Florida. But he does admit there is more of a sense of urgency about the preparations in the wake of the loss.
“Whether we have won three in a row or lost three in a row our preparations are the same,” Alexander said. “We are always going to prepare to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Bisons put themselves in a position to win the North Florida game. But the next part of the process is finishing games with victories.
“Our biggest winning streak of the year is one game,” Alexander said. “I think we have winners here. But it is tough to continuously have to battle back from a loss. We have to play better.”
Martin Smith, hitting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, led all scorers with 20 points. Forward Malcom Smith added 18 followed by Josh Williams with 13 and Hampton with 12.
Martin Smith has 20 or more points in six games this season, 10 for his career. He has scored in double figures in his last nine games.
Williams has finished in double figures in points in seven of his last nine games.
Forward Talbott Denny, Malcolm Smith and Josh Williams each had seven rebounds, but North Florida held a 45-31 edge on the boards. The Ospreys, which held a height advantage over the Bisons, had a 27-14 edge in the final 20 minutes.
North Florida was led by guard Beau Beech with 19 points followed by forward Travis Wallace with 17 and guard Dallas Moore with 16.
The Bisons, led by Denny with four, had 15 steals to seven by North Florida. Lipscomb forced North Florida into 26 turnovers while committing only 11.
“I would like to see us play in a better rhythm offensively,” Alexander said. “We connect on our shots for a long period, but then we struggle. I want us to be more consistent.”