Lipscomb’s comeback bid ran out of gas in the final minutes of its 81-74 loss to East Tennessee State in the Atlantic Sun Conference basketball tournament Thursday night at Allen Arena.
The fifth-seeded Bisons, who finish the season 15-16, never led in the game, but did manage to forge a tie at 71-all with 2:08 to play against the fourth-seeded Buccaneers, but could not cap the comeback, as East Tennessee outscored Lipscomb 10-3 down the stretch.
“People always look at the last part of a game and point to that, but we missed so many easy shots in the first half that really hurt us, and we expended so much energy trying to come back that we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said.
East Tennessee State, now 19-12, will face top-seeded Belmont in Friday’s semifinal round at 8:15 p.m.
The Bisons found themselves down 9-0 at the start of the game and struggled throughout the first half, trailing by as many as 15 points before mounting a furious second-half comeback.
The rally began with consecutive three-point baskets by Eddie Ard and LaKory Daniels that pulled the Bisons to within six points at 62-56 with 9:41 to play.
Lipscomb continued to chip away and finally tied the game when point guard Jimmy Oden made a driving layup and was fouled. Oden hit the free throw to convert the three-point play. But the momentum was short-lived.
Travis Strong, who led ETSU with 16 points, answered with a baseline shot on the Bucs’ next possession, and East Tennessee never looked back.
“Playing them at home, we came in knowing it was going to be a very difficult game. We just feel very fortunate,” East Tennessee State coach Murry Bartow said. “I know they tied it there late, but we just made a couple of more plays at the end.”
ETSU won the battle inside, scoring 36 points in the paint, compared to 18 for Lipscomb, which was plagued by Adnan Hodzic’s foul trouble that limited him to seven points. That allowed the Buccaneers to extend their zone defense to the perimeter to slow Lipscomb’s three-point shooting of Ard and Daniels.
“They did a good job, especially on the wing,” Daniels said. “I know every time I caught the ball it felt like someone was in my face.”
Ard, playing his final game for the Bisons, finished with a game-high 19 points, while Daniels and Michael Lusk had 15 points each.
In addition to Strong, Kenyona Swader had 11 points and 14 rebounds for East Tennessee State, while Kevin Tiggs and Mike Smith had 10 points each.
LIPSCOMB WOMEN MOVE ON: Catie Woods’ had the shooter’s touch, and because of it the Lipscomb Lady Bisons will advance to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun women’s basketball tournament.
Woods’ shot from the corner bounced on the rim then went up into the air and fell through giving Lipscomb a 73-72 victory over rival Belmont in the opening round of the tourney at Allen Arena. Lipscomb (10-21) faces top seed East Tennessee at 2:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Jessica Bobitt led the Bruins with a game-high 25 points, while Jilian Partin had 18 for Lipscomb and Katie Rollins added 17.