NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a season high 16 treys on Senior Night, the Lipscomb men's basketball team held on to defeat NJIT 81-77 Monday in the regular season home finale at Allen Arena.
The win improved the Bisons to 22-6 overall and 13-2 in the ASUN and kept them at the top of the league table, while the visiting Highlanders fell to 20-10 and 8-7 with the loss.
Following an emotional pregame ceremony that honored seniors Garrison Mathews, Rob Marberry, Eli Pepper, Matt Rose and Nate Moran, the Bisons unleashed an aerial attack on the Highlanders that saw 11 treys drop from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes on the way to a 39-28 halftime lead.
Despite the Bisons onslaught from deep, NJIT gave the home team a scare after stringing together a 25-10 run to open the second half and take its first lead at 53-51. Thankfully for Lipscomb, the deep ball kept falling with four makes on the next six possessions to stretch the lead back to six.
Following a free throw from Cooper that gave Lipscomb a 75-68 advantage with 1:21 to play, the game seemed to be in hand, when in reality, it was far from over.
NJIT nailed a pair of free throws and hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to four. Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander was then whistled for a technical foul with 12 seconds remaining, allowing Diandre Wilson to burry two attempts from the stripe and make it a two-point game.
On a night when everything was clicking for Mathews, he sealed the victory with four free throws in the final seconds.
Mathews stole the show with a season-high 32 points and six rebounds. The Franklin native hit 9-of-19 from the floor, 6-of-11 from deep and 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the win. He extended his 3-point streak to 39-consecutive games.
Rose chalked up 12 points after connecting on 4-of-7 attempts from long distance, while junior point guard Kenny Cooper added 11 points and a team-high five assists.
Pepper scored six points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds while finishing off what may have been the play of the night late in the game. With less than two minutes remaining, Pepper took the ball on the left wing and pump-faked the defender before driving the lane and hammering down a monstrous jam to put Lipscomb on top 74-68.
NJIT put four players in double-figures led by Shyquan Gibbs' 19 points. Big man Abdul Lewis posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Highlanders shot an astounding 68 percent (17-of-25) from the floor in the second half after hitting just 39 percent (10-of-26) in the first.
- Lipscomb's five seniors combined for 56 points, 19 rebounds and 10 three-pointers in the win.
- The 16 treys are tied for the fifth-most in a game in the Division I era for Lipscomb. It is the most since Jan. 3, 2018 when it also hit 16 in a win over Fisk.
- Mathews notched his third 30-point game of the season and the 10th of his career. It was also the third time this season he drained six triples in a game – all wins.
- The Bisons showed good ball security with 21 assists to a season-low five turnovers. Seven players were credited with multiple helpers, led by Cooper's five and Marberry's four.
- Lipscomb was outrebounded for only the second time in ASUN play, 32-28. The only other time came at Stetson, 41-40.
- NJIT outshot Lipscomb 53 percent (27-of-51) to 46 percent (27-of-59) from the field. They also hit 16 free throws, compared to only 11 for the Bisons.
- Dating back to last season, Lipscomb is now 19-4 at home since Jan. 20, 2018.
Lipscomb closes out the regular season on Friday at 6 p.m. with its first-ever trip to North Alabama.