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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Feb. 26, 2006
As the buzzer sounded Jason Guyette threw the ball straight up towards the rafters of Allen Arena.
Other than the usual hugs and handshakes after a victory, Guyette's toss of the ball was the only visible celebration of what had just occurred as the Bisons won their first ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title. The Bisons closed out the regular season with a convincing 77-48 victory over Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon.
"I was asked did I think it was going to happen this quick and I said no," said Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson, the team's only coach in the NCAA Division I era. "If you don' take shortcuts, recruit good kids and give them a common goal to work together to achieve and anything is possible."
With the victory, the Bisons claimed the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The Bisons will play Mercer in the first round Thursday afternoon at noon CST in Johnson City.
"It has been a lot of hard work," said Sanderson. "I told our guys before the game that we had one more hurdle to overcome to reach our first goal which was a league championship.
"I can't credit our guys enough. This group has developed as a team through thick and thin. Seniors have gone to the bench and not played as much, but they were still a team. I'm proud of every one of them."
The Bisons took turns cutting down the nets for the first Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. While players and assistant coaches took turns climbing the ladder, Sanderson reminded fans that there was still a lot of work to do this week as "Taking Care of Business" blared over the arena speakers.
The Bisons are 19-9, 15-5 in the conference. Kennesaw State is 12-17, 10-10 in their first season in the Atlantic Sun.
The 48 points was the fewest the Bisons have allowed an opponent this season. The pervious low was 50 points in a 66-50 win at Florida Atlantic Jan. 24.
The Bisons opened A-Sun portion of their season with a 67-66 loss at Kennesaw State Dec. 1. However, The Bisons controlled this game from the start with center Shaun Durant scoring on the opening possession on a lay-up.
Kennesaw State never tied or led in the game. The Bisons gradually built up their lead with a 25-point advantage at 42-17 with 48 seconds left in the first half. The Bisons went into the dressing room with a 42-19 advantage.
"The middle part of the first half we really started defending and doing the things we have been preaching all year long," said Sanderson. "We have had almost 80 practices and all we have stressed is defending people and rebounding the basketball.
"They were trying to milk the clock every possession. And early on we weren't sustaining defensively."
The second half was more of the same. The Bisons biggest lead was 38 points at 69-31 with 5:43 remaining. The Bisons led by 30 points or more from the 18:14 mark until Israel Ingle hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to cut Kennesaw's deficit to 29 points.
"When you are up big a lot of times you don't come out and play well in the second half," said Sanderson. "We jumped out on them with an `11-0 run.
"I wanted everybody to understand we wanted to put a 40-minute game together. We didn't have any lapses as all. I was excited about that as I was anything else.
"What Kennesaw had to do coming in here was very difficult. This game was their last of the year whether they won or lost. It can be difficult to keep your guys motivated and playing in that situation."
Every player in uniform played at least six minutes in the game. Walk-on Will Mantlo scored six points, his first two field goals of the season.
Dusty Moore led Kennesaw State with 12 points. Golden Ingle added 11.
Several Bisons were honored on "Senior Day". Playing their last games in Allen Arena were Poindexter, Durant, Guyette and forward Cameron Robinson. Also honored was Charlie Jenney who served this season as a student assistant coach after being forced to quit playing due to an inju