Bisons break out brooms against Belmont

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Just 48 hours before game two of the 2017 Battle of the Boulevard against non-conference foe Belmont University, Lipscomb guard Garrison Mathews laid behind the Bisons bench at Tennessee State University with uncertainty of whether an injury would end his season. 

BOTB_SIDE2On Monday, Dec. 4, at Allen Arena, the junior erupted for a game-high 26 points, 20 of which came in the second half as the Purple and Gold swept the season series from Belmont with a 69-54 win in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the second Battle of the Boulevard win this season after the Bisons snapped an 11-game skid against the Bruins with a 74-66 win at the Curb Center on Monday, Nov. 27. Lipscomb owns a 74-67 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1953.

The reigning ASUN Player of the Week, Mathews hit 8-of-15 from the field including a trio of 3-pointers and drained 7-of-8 from the line as the Bisons (6-3) swept the Bruins (5-5) for the first time since the 2009-10 season. He was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Kenny Cooper, who added a career-high 18 points.

“The team really played well but Garrison seemed to be in the right place at the right time to execute and deliver,” said Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander. “Every time we needed something good to happen, he found a way to be in the right place.”

The Bisons defense was stellar from the tip forcing 21 turnovers that led to 22 points and holding the Bruins to just 34 percent shooting from the field. Lipscomb held Belmont’s Amanze Egekeze, who came into the night averaging 18.2 points per game, was held to just three points.

“In these two games we’ve been exceptional defensively,” said Alexander. “Our guys have really followed the game plan well and are dialed in. They’ve communicated great on the actions that we’re supposed to talk about.

BOTB_SIDE1“I’ll be the first to admit that Belmont had a lot of looks in both games that didn’t go in. When they’re hard to come by, it’s harder to make them. You’re a little more rushed. There’s a little more pressure. I give our guys credit for that.”

For over 50 years, the annual Lipscomb and Belmont universities men’s basketball games –coined the Battle of the Boulevard – has been a highly anticipated event as each team competes for the coveted Battle of the Boulevard trophy and esteemed bragging rights.

The Battle of the Boulevard began in 1953 when both Lipscomb and Belmont, located just three miles apart on Belmont Boulevard, were NAIA powerhouses in men’s basketball. The two schools leaped to NCAA Division 1 in the late 1990s, and today, the two schools face-off twice a year as non-conference foes as Lipscomb is currently seated in the Atlantic Sun Conference and Belmont in the Ohio Valley.

Herd notes:

  • Lipscomb held Belmont to a season-low 54 points, the lowest output for the Bruins since March, 6, 2015.
  • The Bisons held a 21-16 advantage in the turnover column.
  • Both teams hauled in 37 rebounds and scored 24 points in the paint.
  • Lipscomb held a 12-2 advantage in fast-break points.
  • Three-point shooting was a big difference in the contest as Lipscomb hit 9-of-22 (40.9 percent), while Belmont hit 6-of-31 (19.4 percent).

Up next: Lipscomb hits the road to take on No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. The contest will air on the SEC Network.

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