Feb. 9, 2007
Sometimes life really can come at you pretty fast.
The Belmont Bruins must have felt like they were in one of those insurance commercials Friday night as the Lipscomb Bisons went on a 23-1 second half scoring run to seal a 70-60 win in round two of the "Battle of the Boulevard".
A loud and boisterous standing room only crowd of 5,289 fans crammed Allen Arena, a record for the arena and for a "Battle of the Boulevard" game in the NCAA era. It also marked the first time the Bisons have swept Belmont since renewing the rivalry in the NCAA era. The Bisons won at the Curb Event Center by a score of 55-50 at Belmont Jan. 12.
"It was quick and it was sudden," Belmont coach Rick Byrd said of the Bisons run. "I don't call a lot of time outs. I called one. Maybe I should have called two or three."
The Bisons spotted Belmont an 11-2 start but rallied to take a 31-28 lead with 1:17 left on a lay-up by junior center Jason Hopkins. Belmont's Andy Wicke hit a 3-point at the buzzer to take a 33-31 lead.
"I was worried to start the game because we were down 11-2 before the National Anthem was over," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "We were down quick. We were very lucky to be down two at the half.
"We didn't start out much better to start the second half. We were kind of slow, but they were too.
The Bisons sealed the game starting with a lay-up by center Thomas Pfaff with 12:44 left to play that could Belmont's lead to two points at 39-37. The run ended with a tip-in by guard LaKory Daniels tip-in with 5:17 left on the clock to give the Bisons a 58-40 advantage.
"I thought the middle part of the second half we were terrific," Sanderson said. "I think it was triggered by our defense. They missed some shots, especially 3-pointers and those long rebounds trigger transition baskets which we got. That was critical.
"I was proud of the way our guys kept playing and kept battling. We tried to change up defensively what we were doing."
Belmont did not give up easily. With 3:37 left in the game Keaton Belcher hit a pair of free throws that started Belmont on a 12-1 run that ended 1:24 with a 3-pointer by Wicke that cut the Bisons lead to 61-54 with 1:24 remaining.
The Bisons made one last surge to seal the victory.
"There were too many possessions in the last four minutes of the game," Sanderson said. "But our guys did a good job of holding them to 35 percent from the floor. We have chance to win those games."
Fisk was a key offensively, but his work against Belmont's Justin Hare was even more important. Hare connected on two-of-11 tries for four points.
"Brian Fisk is the best on-ball defender in our league," Sanderson said. "He and Mike Lusk took turns guarding Justin Hare. He is a great player and they did a good job of making Hare's shots tough ones. He has been phenomenal defensively. People just don't appreciate his defensive efforts."
Byrd agreed that Fisk is a defensive force on the court.
"Lipscomb does a really good job of defending us, better than anybody else in the league," Byrd said. "They stopped Hare by putting Fisk, the best defender in the league, on him."
The Bisons hit 24-of-58 shots from the field for 41.4 performance. They hit five-of-20 from 3-point range, a 25 percent success rate. They were 17-of-20 from the free throw line for 85 percent.
Wicke, with 17, was the only Belmont player in double figures.
Belmont shot 35 percent from the field, hitting 21-of-60 shots and eight-of-19 from beyond the arc, 27,6 percent success rate. Belmont hit 10-of-13 free throw attempts (76.9 percent).
The Bisons are 9-5 in the A-Sun, 15-10 overall. Belmont fell to 10-4 in the conference, 16-9 overall.
The next game for the Bisons is Thursday night at 7 when Campbell visits Allen Arena.