For the second time in only a week the Lipscomb Bisons have fallen to their Battle of the Boulevard rival Belmont Bruins, this time by a score of 82-77.
The 136th edition of the ‘Battle’ had a familiar feeling as the Bruins came out with a victory for the seventh iteration in a row, albeit by a much closer margin than this season’s first matchup.
“I’m proud of our players,” Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander said.” “[They showed] a lot of persistence, and real great effort to battle back like that.”
Seniors Malcolm and Martin Smith kept the Bisons in the game in the final moments. Both finished with 21 points on the night. Malcolm Smith tied Talbott Denny for a team leading 6 rebounds and notched 3 assists as well.
“They’re [Martin and Malcolm Smith] seniors and they’re both thousand-point scorers.” Alexander said, “That’s what they’ve proven they can do. They have to keep doing it.”
Clutch free throws from junior Craig Bradshaw down the stretch helped secure the victory for the Bruins. Bradshaw scored 29 points in the game, a new career high, and went 5-7 from downtown. He also collected 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
“He was their best player down the stretch last year,” Alexander said about Bradshaw, “He’s had some unbelievable games, and he killed us when he had to kill us.”
A back-breaking three-pointer from junior Jeff Laidig started the Bruins on a devastating 14-0 run in the waning moments of the first half. Laidig’s basket, which came directly after Lipscomb’s Malcolm Smith had tied the game at 27, crippled any momentum the Bisons had built.
A Martin Smith three-pointer cut the Bruins lead to 51-48 with 12:53, forcing Belmont head coach Rick Byrd to call a timeout.
“I told our guys, ‘the only chance we have to win is to have great possessions on both ends,’ and we did.” Alexander said. “And we gave ourselves a chance. We came up short, but that’s pretty tough to come back from that defect against such a good team.”
Bradshaw went on a run following the timeout, hitting three consecutive three’s and a layup to help build the Bruin lead to 65-54.
Lipscomb went on a run of their own after Bradshaw’s hot streak, but never inched closer than a two-point deficit.
Sophomore Josh Williams provided 11 points for the Bisons, and hit all four of his free throws. No other Bisons scored in double figures.
Belmont’s Reece Chamberlain was all over the court for the Bruins, finishing the game with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
Lipscomb will be back in action Nov. 30 on the road against Pac-12 opponent Colorado.
Photos by Erin Turner