Bisons earn fourth straight conference win in 77-75 ...
When you extend your conference winning streak to four, the best way to do so is to win by knocking down a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds to go in the game.
At least that’s what works for the Lipscomb Bisons men’s basketball team.
After a road stretch in Kentucky and Florida, freshman guard Josh Williams’ game-ending three gave the Bisons a 77-75 win over the visiting USC Upstate at Allen Arena – the fourth straight Atlantic Sun win for Lipscomb.
After Thursday’s win, the Bisons are officially on a hot streak.
During a tense first half, the Bisons and the Spartans swapped the lead on more than one occasion, as neither team ever truly broke away from the other. Upstate grabbed a quick 31-29 lead at the half.
In the second, Lipscomb and Upstate continued to showcase the ebb-and-flow nature of their battle, with neither team getting up for too long. However, the Spartans gained late steam, holding a 71-63 lead with a little over two minutes to go.
But, a Chad Johnson three-pointer gave the Bisons a spark, as Williams and redshirt freshman guard J.C. Hampton also knocked down shots from the arch to help put the Bisons within three with around a minute to go.
A Hampton layup pulled the team within one, and after Williams’ last-second jaw-dropper from the three-point line, the Bisons held the Spartans’ offense during the closing seconds to get the win.
Williams and Hampton led the charge for the Bisons in scoring with 21, while senior forward Torrey Craig led for the Spartans with 18.
Lipscomb’s junior forward Martin Smith had 14 points, while junior forward Malcolm Smith led the Bisons in rebounding with 6 and had 11 points. Hampton had a team-best 7 assists.
Both Williams and Hampton each had four three-pointers for the game.
Johnson, a junior guard, was one of the Bisons responsible for the late-game heroics that sealed the win.
When making a late-game basket to help give your team back the lead, Johnson said that, to make said shot, it’s simply a matter of taking what you learned at practice and applying those lessons when they really matter.
“We shoot those shots every day in practice,” Johnson said. “We shoot over a hundred of them, and so, it’s just like practicing. But, in that situation, you know you’ve got to step up and want to make the play in that situation.”
To Bisons head coach Casey Alexander, the last few games (the Bisons have won five out of the last six) have been confidence boosters for the team, who were 2-6 in conference going into the Northern Kentucky game (when the current streak began).
“When you’re struggling to put anything together, anything positive is good for your team and is a confidence builder,” Alexander said.
Alexander said he believes the winning stretch mirrors the hard work the Bisons have been putting on the hardwood all season long.
“They’ve worked hard all year long, but when you don’t get the results, it’s tough. It’s hard to be completely motivated. It’s hard to really believe that what you’re doing is the right thing.
“But I give our guys a lot of credit for staying with it, and now they’re seeing the fruits of their labor a little bit, and that we’ll be better in practice tomorrow because of it.”
Following Thursday’s game, the Bisons hope to ride the momentum into Saturday night’s home matchup against ETSU. The team has previously defeated the Bucs this season on the road.
Photo credit: Erin Turner