NASHVILLE – Seniors Garrison Mathews and Rob Marberry combined for 43 points to help the Lipscomb men's basketball team to a marquee nonconference win, 91-66, over the Vermont Catamounts Friday night inside Allen Arena.
"Since I have been at Lipscomb, that was the best we have played in a game against a quality opponent, I couldn't be more pleased," head coach Casey Alexander said. "We gave them (Vermont) the proper amount of respect, we built them up all week long because we believed they are a really good team, so our guys were ready for sure.
"And because we played like we did with the margin that we had, they need to understand that we are a pretty good team too."
The victory moved Lipscomb to 9-3 on the year and gave the Bisons their fifth win at home this season in six games. Vermont's six-game winning streak was snapped as the Catamounts fell to 9-4.
Mathews hit six of Lipscomb's eight 3-pointers to lead the team with 22 points and a season-high nine rebounds. Marberry dominated the second half and connected on 10-of-13 from the floor to pour in 21 points. He also pulled down six boards and recorded three assists.
"Rob and I have always had good chemistry (on the floor)," Mathews said. "He's such a great scorer, it makes it easy to throw him passes down low. It also gets me open."
Mathews' hot night started early as the preseason ASUN Player of the Year knocked down his first three attempts from deep and slammed home a back-door cutter from Nate Moran to help Lipscomb build a 17-16 lead at the under-12 media timeout.
On the second possession out of the huddle, Mathews dropped in his fourth triple to jump start a 14-6 run over the next eight minutes to stretch Lipscomb's advantage to 31-22.
"It was a great win for our team and it gives us a great confidence booster," Mathews said.
After Anthony Lamb sparked a mini run for the Catamounts with a pair of buckets to trim the deficit to five, the Bisons scored seven of the last nine points following a 3-pointer from Moran with 25 seconds to go into half up 42-32.
Alexander was not pleased with his team's 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, but was happy to see the offense humming.
"We turned the ball over some in the first half and that was one of the things we looked at, but when you shoot 74 percent for the half, that makes up for a lot of mistakes," Alexander said. "We only made one turnover in the second half, so we didn't have to shoot it as well.
"Defensively for 40 minutes though, I thought we were really good."
The Bisons only missed six shots in the first half, connecting on 17-of-23 attempts, and shot 73.9% from the floor.
When Kenny Cooper stole the inbounds and laid it up on the first play of the second half, it was clear there would be no letdown with Christmas break just hours away.
Marberry deposited back-to-back baskets to help the Bisons build a 20-point lead with 12 minutes to play. A few minutes later, Marberry scored on four consecutive trips down the floor to put the game away. With 1:38 remaining, Mathews hit a deep dagger to give the Bisons their biggest lead of the night at 28 points, 89-61.
Lamb tried to get the Catamounts back into the game with 13 points in the second half, but the Bisons were as steady as ever on both ends of the court. They forced 11 turnovers and held Vermont to its second-lowest scoring output of the season.
- Lipscomb outshot Vermont 57.6% (34-of-59) to 36.1% (22-of-61) from the floor. The Purple and Gold hit 15-of-17 from the line for an 88.2% clip.
- The Bisons controlled the boards 39-28 and had 10 players pull down multiple balls.
- Lipscomb dominated the stats with advantages in the paint (50-26), off turnovers (14-4) and off the bench (27-6).
- Cooper (13) and Ahsan Asadullah (10) joined Mathews and Marberry in double figures. Cooper went 5-of-10 with six rebounds, four assists and a team-high three steals, while Asadullah nailed 4-of-5 attempts and pulled down three rebounds.
- Moran was consistent with five points, four rebounds and four assists. He tied Bisons assistant coach Steve Drabyn with his 242nd career three ball in the ASUN record books.
- The Bisons recorded 19 assists while holding the Catamounts to just eight. It matches the fewest helpers they have given up in a game this season.
- Lipscomb entered the night No. 11 in the CollegeInsider.com Top 25 poll, and Vermont was ranked 23rd.
Lipscomb goes on the road to close out nonconference action against ACC foe Clemson. The Bisons and Tigers will tip things up at 2 p.m. on December 30. It will be the last game before opening ASUN play on January 5.
"We all need the break," Alexander said. "Five days of refreshment and get away from it. Hopefully that is enough time for them to want to come back on the 26thand start the second half of the year.
"Clemson is a really, really good defensive team, they always have been. It will be a challenge to go on the road in the ACC, but I told them in the locker room, I think we are playing with a little bit of house money right now. We need to go over there, have some fun and cut it loose if we can."