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Lipscomb (6-10, 1-4 A-Sun)
ETSU (8-8, 1-2 A-Sun)
1/9/2014 | MSHA Athletic Center (Johnson City, TN) | Attendance: 2227
Thursday, January 09, 2014
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The next time Lipscomb freshman guard Josh Williams sits down for a pregame meal with the rest of the Bisons, he might just find his plate empty after scoring 34 points off the bench on Thursday night to lead the Purple and Gold to a thrilling 82-80 Atlantic Sun Conference win over ETSU at the MSHA Athletic Center in Johnson City.
Shortly after a career-best 28-point effort against Jacksonville on Monday, Williams was blindsided by a stomach virus. His only meal in the last 48 hours? A bowl of soup on Wednesday night as the Bisons made a stop for dinner en route to Johnson City.
“For a freshman to come out and put together two games like Josh has is impressive, especially this one being on the road,” said Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander. “What I really like most about Josh is that we hardly run anything for him at all. So he just gets his points naturally and a little bit quietly. I think everybody finally perked up and noticed him as the game went along but he’s not forcing things and that’s why his numbers are so good and so efficient.”
The Jackson, Miss. native was deadly off the bench for Lipscomb shooting 13-of-17 from the floor including all 10 shots he took inside the 3-point arc. At one point in the second half, Williams made 10 points in a row for the Purple and Gold. He was also just as sharp at the free-throw line making all five attempts to become the first Bison to score 34 points since Adnan Hodzic reached the mark against Arizona in 2006.
“Tonight was exciting from the start,” said Williams. “It was a big game for me personally. One of my old AAU teammates, A.J. Merriweather was on the other side. It was a good game for us as a team and me especially. I’ve just got to give thanks to the coaching staff and the guys around me that keep making me better.”
Williams’ play helped the Bisons keep a pesky ETSU squad at bay and setup the chance for redshirt freshman guard J.C. Hampton to win the game. Hampton drove the lane as the clock ticked under seven seconds and floated a jumper home with 3.6 seconds remaining to put the Bisons up. The Bucs Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard got the ball down the floor for a last-second jumper but it clanged off the back of the iron securing the win for Lipscomb.
“We executed that final play exactly the way we were supposed to,” said Alexander. “I wanted J.C. to try and get it to the rim but it was designed just for him to get a good shot off. That’s a play that we have saved for that situation."
At the half, Lipscomb junior forward Martin Smith was the star of the game having tossed in 18 points including six 3-pointers as the Bisons led 42-32. Smith would finish the night with 21 points.
“Boy Martin’s shooting was fun to see and fun to watch in the first half,” said Alexander. “He was lined up with hands ready and he wanted the ball. I thought we did a nice job of getting quality shots and I thought that was a big part of our shooting percentage in the first half.
Hampton would also finish in double figures with a 13-point night.
Rashawn Rembert led the Buccaneers with 24 points on 8-of-19 shooting.
After giving up the first basket of the game to the Bucs, the Bisons would not trail the rest of the night taking control early in the first half and then only having the score tied at 80 at the very end.
“To be a team that’s in a hole, in the middle of a tough 10-day stretch, at a tough place to play and lead almost wire-to-wire shows a lot of maturity and growth on our part,” said Alexander.
After shooting 53.6 percent in the first half, the Bisons came out and shot 63.6 percent in the final 20 minutes of action giving Lipscomb a 58.0 percent shooting percentage for the game. ETSU struggled in the first half shooting only 31.4 percent but recovered with a solid second half to shoot 39.1 percent for the game.
The Bisons were bolstered by nine 3-pointers in the first half including Martin Smith’s six. Lipscomb finished the night 11-for-22 from behind the arc. ETSU would hit 10 3-pointers on the night making eight in the second half to tighten the contest.
Sophomore forward Talbott Denny led the Bisons with eight rebounds but ETSU won the battle of the boards 37-29 including 18 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points.
The Bisons continue road action on Saturday afternoon at USC Upstate at 3 p.m. Tune in to the game on ESPN3 or 94.9 Game 2 on the radio with Jonathan Seamon calling the action from the Palmetto State.