If traffic gets stopped on Belmont Boulevard on Wednesday, there’s no need to be alarmed – it’s just the Lipscomb faithful staking claim to the street.
For the second straight week, Lipscomb topped archival Belmont – this one a 69-54 victory at Allen Arena. The Bisons also defeated the Bruins by a score of 74-66 in the season’s first addition of the Battle of the Boulevard on Nov. 27.
“Not many teams do that to them,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said of beating the Bruins twice. “They’re a great team, and that’s why it means so much for us to win it.”
Junior guard Garrison Mathews powered the Bisons with 26 points, despite suffering an apparent injury in an overtime victory over Tennessee State on Saturday. Mathews wore a sleeve on his right knee and appeared to be operating close to full strength.
“We thought he was out for the season 48 hours ago, so I’m glad he’s not,” Alexander said. “It seemed like every time we needed something good to happen, [Garrison] was in the right place.”
20 of Mathews’ points came in the second half, including a stretch of six straight points after Belmont went on an 8-0 run midway through the second half.
Lipscomb led 28-20 at halftime and pulled away from the Bruins when its offense came alive late in the game.
Sophomore guard Kenny Cooper also proved to be a key cog in the win, and he set a new career high in points with 18.
“He’s gaining more and more control of the offense, and that’s what we need out of him,” Alexander said of Cooper.
The Bisons also stepped up their defense after allowing 86 points to both Tennessee Tech and TSU last week. Lipscomb held four of Belmont’s starters below their per-game point average, including keeping Bruin leading scorer Amanze Egekeze to just three points.
“Coach [Alexander] pounds defense into our heads,” Mathews said. “This is a great win for the program. Everybody showed out and it was awesome playing in front of [the crowd].”
The Lipscomb faithful arrived in droves. Announced attendance was 4,161 – the largest crowd at Allen Arena since Lipscomb’s matchup with the Bruins in December 2015.
“I give all the credit to our marketing people for getting the word out on social media, and for Lipscomb fans responding and being here,” Alexander said. “It means a lot – hopefully they’ll come back.”
The large showing of support came on the heels of “Camp Casey” – a collection of tents where students – led by Lincoln Bell, Carson Chaffin, Sam Hearn and Will Temple – spent the week camping outside of Allen Arena in anticipation of Monday’s game.
“Those guys are the best,” Alexander said. “I wouldn’t have done something like that, but I’m really grateful that those guys did.”
Lipscomb will now turn its attention to the 6-1 Tennessee Volunteers. Tip-off is set for 1:15 p.m. at Thompson-Boiling Arena on Saturday.
“It will be hard to keep this rolling at Tennessee,” Alexander said. “It’ll take everything we have just to make it a game. But if we make it a game, anything can happen.”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics