NEW YORK – The postseason magic finally ran out for the Lipscomb men’s basketball team in Thursday’s NIT championship game.
Texas used 13 three-pointers and its pesky defense to take the NIT title with an 81-66 victory over Lipscomb in Madison Square Garden.
Senior forward Rob Marberry led the Bisons with 17 points, while senior guard Garrison Mathews had 15.
“We had an expectation to win the game,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “We thought we could win the game. We’re disappointed we didn’t win the game.”
The Longhorns (21-16) made things difficult for Lipscomb’s offense, and Texas guard Courtney Ramey kept Mathews off balance for most of the night. Mathews did not make a field goal until he swished a three with 8:10 remaining in the game.
“[The Bisons] did a great job battling back and fighting in the second half,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “But I thought Courtney Ramey was probably the biggest difference in this game, even though he didn’t score a lot. But he did a phenomenal job on Garrison Mathews, who is one of the best scorers in the country.”
The Bisons (29-8) scored 14 of their first 20 points in the paint thanks to Marberry and redshirt freshman Ahsan Asadullah, who finished with 11 points. The Bisons led 22-19 with 6:42 to go in the first half.
But the Longhorns used their size and athleticism to clog the lane and force contested shots. The Bisons had only five three-pointers all game.
“They did a great job of just running screens and being there on the catch and taking shots away,” Alexander said. “So we had to take what they would give us. We’re not the kind of team that can create the offense ourselves.”
Texas ended the first half on a 22-5 run to take a 41-27 lead into the break. Forward Dylan Osetkowski led the way by scoring 15 of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes. The 6-foot-9 forward made three shots from long range and also led with 11 rebounds.
The Longhorns only managed five first-half threes, but their improved second-half accuracy helped distance them from the Bisons. Lipscomb opened the second half on a 7-0 run, but it never narrowed the deficit under seven.
“I thought we had some good possessions, and they made seemingly every three,” Alexander said. “We just didn’t put enough together to make it close or get them on their heels to really get ourselves into the game, and that’s just the way it goes.”
Three other Longhorns finished in double figures, including Jase Febres (17), Kerwin Roach II (16) and Matt Coleman III (11). Roach led with seven assists.
Lipscomb graduates five seniors, including Marberry, Mathews, guard Nathan Moran and forwards Eli Pepper and Matt Rose. The class combined for 6,779 career points and helped the Bisons to three consecutive 20-win seasons.
“Our team collectively did a lot of really nice things,” Alexander said. “That was the strength of our team, even though we had some real highlight players as far as numbers go. The strength of our team was the quality of depth and a lot of guys that played their role great…ultimately, that’s what makes teams the most successful.”
Spencer Boehme and Russell Vannozzi contributed to this report.
Photos by Erin Franklin