The Lipscomb men’s basketball team struggled in the early going of Friday’s season opener, but a strong second-half effort was enough for a 98-83 victory over Emory at Allen Arena.
“It wasn’t pretty because (Emory) is good,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “Naturally, we can play a lot better – but they had a lot to do with why we didn’t play well.”
Lipscomb guard Garrison Mathews led all scorers with 37 points – just two shy of his career high of 39.
“He’s a load, especially when he puts his head down to get to the rim,” Alexander said. “He wants the ball, and our guys have confidence in him.”
At halftime, the game was knotted at 43 after the Eagles gave the Bisons all they could handle in the first 20 minutes of play.
“I didn’t think we were missing effort or desire, but I did think we were a little bit off,” Alexander said. “We needed to increase our intensity level just a notch.”
That’s exactly what they did. Lipscomb’s offense exploded in the second half, and – led by Mathews – the Bisons outscored Emory 55-40 after the break.
Mathews was quick to deflect the praise to his teammates and noted that Emory is a “well-coached” team.
“I give props to my teammates – they gave me the ball,” Mathews said of his performance. “It was the first game of the year and everybody struggles in the first game a little bit. That was a tough team, so I’m just happy to get the win.”
Sophomore Michael Buckland filled in for injured point guards Kenny Cooper and Nathan Moran and nearly produced a triple-double. The North Carolina native finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“(Buckland) got off to a poor start, but he bounced back and played very well,” Alexander said. “Those are really good numbers for him.”
A crowd of 1,168 witnessed the opening-night matchup, which was part of Lipscomb’s homecoming weekend.
“It was exciting,” Mathews said of the fan support. “It seems like we have gained some (respect) over the past few years. It’s great to see (the students) out here, too.”
Rob Marberry (12 points) and Eli Pepper (10 points) also finished in double figures.
Lipscomb will quickly turn its attention to the Morehead State Eagles, who pay a visit to Allen Arena on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to get rest and get prepared at the same time,” Alexander said. “It’s early in the year, so it’s not like we have fatigue to use as an excuse. We’ll be here and ready to go on Sunday.”
Women’s basketball: College of Charleston 85, Lipscomb 69
The Lipscomb women’s basketball team was not quite as fortunate in its season opener on Friday morning, dropping an 85-69 contest to College of Charleston.
Senior point guard Loren Cagle led the Lady Bisons with 16 points, and sophomore Kaylee Cotton also finished in double figures with 10 points.
Lipscomb will continue its road trip and travel across town to take on Charleston Southern. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics