NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 2-seeded Lipscomb Bisons are back in the ASUN Conference Men's Basketball Championship Final after a dominating defensive performance in the 77-62 win vs. No. 3 Jacksonville. Lipscomb advances to its first final since 2006 and will face No. 1 FGCU on Sunday at 3 PM ET.
Lipscomb held Jacksonville to just 32.1 percent from the floor in the first half as they built a 39-25 advantage at the break. Garrison Mathews scored a team-high 23 points, while Rob Marberry joined him in double figures with 12 points. Jacksonville was led by Cody Helgeland who finished with a game-high 24 points.
The Bisons' defense was menacing from the opening tip as they took an 11-3 lead in the first minutes. The lead continued to grow as Lipscomb held the Dolphins to just 2-for-13 shooting in the first eight minutes. Mathews and Michael Buckland connected on four triples early on as Lipscomb held a 30-13 lead with 3:54 to go in the period. Helgeland came off the bench and ignited an 8-0 run to close the half for Jacksonville as he connected on two triples in the final minute to cut the deficit to 39-25 at the break.
Helgeland picked up where he left off to start the second half as his third three of the night cut the Lipscomb lead to 39-28, but the Bisons responded with five-straight points to maintain a double-digit lead. Mathews turned it on offensively in the second half with 15 of his 23 points coming after the break. Jacksonville's offense improved dramatically, shooting 51.9 percent from the field in the second period, but the Bisons always had an answer and never get the lead closer than 11 points in the period. Lipscomb controlled the paint, outscoring the Dolphins 34-28 on the interior. Marberry put an exclamation point on the contest when he flushed a two-handed dunk to put the Bisons up 73-60 with 1:42 to go.
The Bisons improve to 22-9 on the season, while Jacksonville's season comes to a close with a 15-18 record. Lipscomb now heads to Fort Myers, Fla. to play in the ASUN Championship Final against No. 1 FGCU. The Bisons split the regular season series with the Eagles, winning 90-87 at Alico Arena in the team's last road game of the regular season.
No. 2 Lipscomb vs. No. 3 Jacksonville Semifinal Notes
- The Bisons return to the ASUN Championship Final for the first time since 2006. The Bisons are now 2-5 in semifinal contests, after reaching this round in each of the past three seasons.
- Garrison Mathews continued his 20-point scoring run as he finished with a team-high 23 points. Mathews now has 38 career 20-point games, including 20 this season and three in his last four games
- Lipscomb's defense at home against Jacksonville was brilliant in both meetings this season. The Bisons allowed 59 points in the regular season matchup, and only gave up 62 points tonight. The Bisons are 5-0 this season when holding opponents to 65 points or less.
- Cody Helgeland scored a career-high 24 points for the Dolphins tonight. It marked his second 20-point game of the season and eclipsed his previous career-best mark of 22 points.
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