Feb. 18, 2006
Just when it looked like the Lipscomb Bisons were in control of their own destiny they found themselves facing the need to win their last two games to win the Atlantic Sun Conference championship.
The Bisons have six days to recover from watching a 20-plus point victory become a 71-66 loss in the second half. Gardner-Webb has won nine of its last 10 games.
"We didn't rebound, and we didn't defend, and they came back on us," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "The bottom line is they played a better second half than we played a first half and we got beat. They played awful well, but then again that is very difficult."
Facing "Senior Night" at Gardner-Webb University and dealing with one of the hottest teams in the A-Sun, the Bisons did what every road team wants to do _ jump out to a big first half lead.
Sparked by the shooting of guards James Poindexter and Brian Fisk who scored 30 of Lipscomb's first half points, the Bisons led 44-24 at intermission. The Bisons shot 61.5 percent from the field (16-of-26), including 70 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range.
Everything looked like it was going to plan, In the second half, with 17:47 left to play, the Bisons were up 48-26. Gardner-Webb started its comeback. Both teams traded a couple of baskets. And then, with 12:45 left Gardner-Webb went on a 15-0 run that cut the Bisons lead to 55-52.
Free throws by guard Trey Williams kept the Bisons in the lead until Gardner-Webb came back to tie at 63-63 with 2:10 left. Poindexter hit a pair of free throws to put the Bisons ahead 65-63 with 1:37 on the clock.
Chris Gash hit a pair of free throws to give Gardner- Webb a 3-point lead with 10.7 seconds left. Simon Conn put the game away with a pair of free throws with three seconds left.
T,J. McCullough scored a career-high 22 points for Gardner-Webb with 17 of his points in the second half. Gash earned the double0double iwith 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Conn also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Tim Jennings finished with 12 points.
"McCollugh stuck a bunch of shots in the hole," said Sanderson. "You know if he goes and gets 20 on any given night it's going to be a tough time to beat them. But when you are up 20, that's a hard one right there to swallow.
"They were scoring too quick, Our focus was on the wrong end. We've got to focus on the defending part. It's not that they were scoring, it was that they were scoring so quick."
Poindexter led the Bisons with 22 points. Fisk added 17 and Eddie Ard scored 12. The Bisons had only five field goals in the second half.
"They just kind-of spread us out and we did a terrible job of keeping them in front of us," said Samderson. "They got every loose ball, every stick back, and every offensive rebound they got, and then down here we couldn't score.
"When you're not scoring down here, then you've got to get cheap baskets off of your defense. "We weren't guarding. We were getting it out of the net every single time so we were getting no cheap baskets. You know a cheap basket or cheap lay-up really gets your head up big time offensively. "
Gardner-Webb is 15-10 overall, 12-6 in the A-Sun. The Bisons are 17-9 overall, 13-5 in the conference.
The Bisons next game is Friday night at Allen Arena against East Tennessee State. The game will be televised on CSS. The Bisons close out the regular season next Sunday at home against Kennesaw State.
"Oh yeah, I mean that game Friday night is an absolute must win now," said Sanderson. "We have to win that game Friday night, and we have to win on Sunday in order to win the league and be the first place seed.
"We've got our work cut out for us and we need to get over this one. It will be interesting to see how we get over this one. We did not get over that Stetson loss very good. We came out against North Florida and we won, but we didn't play very good. If we don't get over it very good against East Tennessee State, they will put a hurting on us in a hurry."