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Wednesday, March 06, 2013
MACON, Ga.-- Deonte Alexander was sitting on a stool in the back hallway of Hawkins Arena waiting to face the media when a security guard walked by, shook his hand, and said, "See you next time".
Alexander may return some day to Hawkins Arena, but he won't be wearing a Lipscomb basketball uniform. The senior guard played his final college game, an 82-48 loss to top-seeded Mercer on the Bears home court Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
Alexander scored the first points in the game for the Bisons on a 3-pointer. He hit three straight from long distance in the second half in an attempt to close Mercer's gap. He finished with a game-high 15 points, but found little solace in his final performance.
"I just wanted to keep it going in the second half and try to cut their lead lower and lower," Alexander said. "In the mid-to-late second half I realized it was going to be my last game. But it didn't really hit me until I went back in the locker room."
Alexander was the lone senior for the Purple and Gold this season. Coach Scott Sanderson put a great deal of the leadership for the team on Alexander's shoulders.
"They put a lot of emphasis on me being the leader before the season started," Alexander said. "I took the challenge and tried to do my best.
"I want the players to always play every possession like it could be their last. You never know what is going to happen."
Sanderson points to Alexander's high energy level of play in both games and practice sessions.
"He is a high-strung player," Sanderson said. "He plays with a lot of emotion and for the most part it is good emotion.
"He will compete. We leaned on him a great deal. He is such a fiery guy and he rubbed off on the guys from time-to-time. He was consistently a very good practice player for us. When your best player is a good practice player that is important."
Alexander stepped forward the last half of the season as the Bisons tried to find ways to be successful despite the youth of the team.
"Deonte went to another level for us," Sanderson said. "His shooting percentage went up the last half of the season. He was more efficient, scoring more points on fewer shots.
"He turned the ball over less. He had to guard the best player on the other team a lot of times. He did a lot of different things for us. He will be missed."
Alexander's college basketball career is over, but he still has one more victory awaiting him in May.
"I told him after the game that I don't care how many shots he made or how many defensive stops he made," Sanderson said. "He has a chance to graduate in May and that is where his focus needs to be.
"He will be the first person in his family to graduate from college. That is an even bigger accomplishment than anything he has done on a basketball court."
The team record was not what he would have liked. Losing in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament was not in his plans either. But he stresses he will have positive memories of this team.
"I will remember my teammates," Alexander said. "They are my friends...my brothers. This is the best team I have ever played on."