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Lipscomb (11-14 (6-8 ASun))
Mercer (20-6 (11-2 ASun))
2/14/2014 | Macon, Ga. - Hawkins Arena | Attendance: 1872
Friday, February 14, 2014
MACON, Ga. – The Lipscomb men’s basketball team seemingly could not buy a bucket in the first half and Mercer could not miss. The Bears flexed their muscles behind 10 made 3-pointers and took a 79-48 Atlantic Sun Conference victory on its home court Friday night.
“We weren’t any good on either end of the floor in the first half,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “And when you are playing the best team in the league who plays great at home, that is a huge hole you dig.
“I am disappointed to say the least. I thought we competed and got better in the second half. But I am just disappointed overall.”
Lipscomb (11-14, 6-8 A-Sun) had no answer for Mercer (20-6, 11-2 A-Sun) guard Langston Hall and the Bears potent offense. Hall finished the contest with a game-high 20 points behind 7-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
“They have so much versatility on offense,” Alexander said. They have great sets, they execute and play together very well. It is a tall order to defend them to start with, so if you aren’t locked in from the beginning, you are going to get the results that we got.”
Mercer opened the game with a Bud Thomas 3-pointer. Then J.C. Hampton responded with a long ball of his own to tie the game at 3-3 in the opening minutes. Thomas scored on a layup on the next possession to give Mercer a lead it would never relinquish.
Lipscomb never seemed to find any rhythm and could not knock down a shot when needed the most.
The bucket must have looked like an ocean to Mercer, as the Bears hit five of their first seven long balls and raced out to a 25-9 lead in the first eight minutes.
After another 3-pointer from Hampton, the Bisons were held scoreless over the last 5:41 in the first half.
Mercer knocked down 57.1 percent of its shots in the first half and led 43-16 at the break.
Hampton led the team with six points at the break, while freshman Josh Williams followed with five.
Lipscomb combined to go 4-of-28 from the floor in the period for 14.3 percent.
“When you only make four baskets in the first, it is going to be a bad half,” Alexander said. “I really thought we lost our poise more offensively than defensively. We started trying to make things happen instead of running our offense and sharing the ball.
“That is just fuel in the fire. Mercer is too good defensively to not give yourself a chance at good shots.”
Although the Bisons played much better in the second period, they never made a run to put themselves in a position to attack.
Every time Lipscomb made a shot, Mercer would answer quickly.
One bright spot for the Bisons was the return of redshirt-freshman Charles Smith. He had not seen playing time since the Tennessee State game Nov. 18 due to injury.
After being cleared this week, Charles entered the game and made his presence known, collecting three blocks and two rebounds.
“It was great to have Charles back out there,” Alexander said. “It has been a long time and only got cleared this week. He knows that we need him available. He got several blocked shots and altered some others tonight. I am really proud of his effort tonight.”
Another freshman, Cam Miller, saw plenty of playing time after a couple Bisons got into foul trouble. Miller buried three treys in the second period to give him a career-high nine points.
Williams finished with a team-high 14 points and was the only Bison in double figures. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Hampton only attempted two shots in the second half and finished the contest with nine points and six rebounds.
On the night, Lipscomb hit 14-of-57 shots from the floor (24.6 percent), 9-of-29 from behind the arc (31 percent) and 11-of-18 at the charity stripe (61.1 percent).
Mercer knocked down 30-of-60 shots (50 percent), 10-of-24 from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 9-of-13 from the line (69.2 percent).
The Bears controlled the glass with a 41-31 advantage including 13 offensive boards.
“You can’t just wipe it away,” Alexander said. “You have to take a look in the mirror and evaluate where we are. We just have to see the adjustments we need to make and be determined to do it. We have plenty left to play for.
“Sunday’s game at Kennesaw is huge for us before we play three at home. I am anxious to see what we are made of. How much pride we have and how we bounce back from two sub-par performances.”
The A-Sun matchup with Kennesaw State is slated for a 2 p.m. CT start on Sunday. The contest will air on 94.9 Game 2 with Jonathan Seamon handling the call.