LYNCHBURG, Va. – In an anticipated matchup of the ASUN's unbeatens, Lipscomb men's basketball proved the road to the top still runs through Nashville as the Bisons welcomed Liberty to the league in dominating fashion with a 79-59 victory Tuesday in the Vines Center. The victory improves the Bisons to 17-4 overall and 8-0 in the conference, putting them all alone atop the league standings. Liberty falls to 18-5 and 7-1 and snaps an 8-game winning streak that was the third-longest mark in program history.
Despite facing the nation's 5th-best scoring defense (59.0 ppg), the Bisons were too hot to handle for the Flames. They shot 55 percent for the game, including a 62.1 percent clip in the first half, and scored the third-most points against Liberty this season.
"Extremely proud of how we played, from start to finish," Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander said. "I felt like our players had the right mentality and it was great to get off to a good start. We never really let up."
"I felt like for the most part, we were pretty in control. They (Liberty) had a couple little runs there, but we seemed to answer every time."
The senior trio of Eli Pepper (9), Rob Marberry (8) and Garrison Mathews (8) combined for 25 points and helped the Bisons defense limit the Flames to just 38.5 percent shooting and an 0-for-9 mark from 3-point range in the first half. The purple and gold hit five treys and took a 42-24 lead into halftime.
With the Bisons up seven and Liberty still within striking distance, Andrew Fleming swished a three-pointer with just over nine minutes remaining in the half to spark a 22-9 run that carried over into the second half.
Liberty, a team that ranked 15th in the nation in made three-pointers entering the game, hit its first long ball of the night with just under 12 minutes remaining to cut Lipscomb's lead to 15. It would be as close as the Flames would get the rest of the way.
Ahsan Asadullah converted on a pair of putbacks, before Mathews followed with back-to-back 3-pointers. Less than a minute later Kenny Cooper capped a 13-0 run for the Bisons with a dagger three to give Lipscomb a 70-42 advantage.
Mathews scored 14 of his game-high 22 points after the break. After missing his first three shots from the field, the reigning ASUN and Lou Henson National Player of the Week nailed seven of his last 10, including five triples.
"Garrison is in another world right now," Alexander said. "He is playing well every time he goes out there and is doing it within the framework of the offense.
"When you are shooting 50 percent from two and 40 percent from three and also getting to the line, he can take as many as he wants."
Marberry added 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and a career-high tying five assists from the low post in his return to the lineup. The senior has now totaled 14 assists over his last three games played.
Eli Pepper was the other Bison in double figures with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Flames put Caleb Homesley (12) and Lovell Cabbil (11) in double figures. They shot 22-of-59 from the floor and made only four deep balls, the second-fewest on the year.
- The Bisons extend their conference-winning streak to 15 games, the 2nd-best mark in the nation.
- Mathews moved past Kenyatta Perry (93-97) on the program's all-time scoring list to sit in fifth with 2,126 career points. He needs three more to move into fifth on the ASUN's list.
- On his make with near five minutes remaining in the first half, Mathews drilled his 300th career trey.
- He also drilled his 300th career three-pointer
- Lipscomb outrebounded the Flames 36-30 and controlled the paint 38-32.
- The Bisons totaled 16 assists and committed just 12 turnovers. They also forced the Flames into 12 miscues.
- Fleming (7), Asadullah (6) and Nate Moran (6) combined for 19 of the team's 27 bench points.
- Lipscomb shot 9-of-18 from long range and sunk 8-of-14 from the line.
Lipscomb returns home Saturday for the 8th- annual Adoption Rally and Star Wars Day, hosting North Alabama at 4 p.m.
"We have great respect to what they've done here in these last few games," Alexander said. "They've played with a chip on their shoulder and have picked up five conference wins already.
"We will talk about going into that game just like every other game."