NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind 17 three-pointers and a 68 percent (19-28) shooting clip the in the second half, Lipscomb used a strong final 20 minutes to pull away from the FGCU men’s basketball team for a 88-71 Atlantic Sun win on Sunday afternoon at Allen Arena.
The Eagles trailed by five, 36-31, at the half, but couldn’t overcome a 17-of-29 shooting night from beyond the arc by the Bisons, including 10 trifectas in the second half.
The game was the end of four consecutive road contests for FGCU, who falls to 5-15 overall and 2-9 in the A-Sun. The Eagles have played seven road games in league play, but return home for six of their next nine contests. Lipscomb, winners of four in a row, improves to 14-8 and 9-4 in the conference with the win.
Freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) led the Blue and Green in scoring for the sixth time in the last eight games with 18 points. Junior Marlon Rivera (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico/Sagemont HS/Santa Fe CC) added 13 points and four assists, while redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) had 10 points, highlighted by eight straight to open the second half.
Junior Jordan Burgason led Lipscomb’s three-point parade with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting from deep. Burgason was one of four Bisons’ starters to finish in double figures, as the starting five went a collective 14-of-23 from three. A-Sun leading scorer Adnan Hodzic was held scoreless in the first half, but bounced back with 14 in the final 20 minutes.
As its done all year, FGCU was aggressive on the boards, holding a 40-33 rebound edge. Freshman Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South) led the way with eight caroms, including three offensive. Banks added four offensive rebounds to help the Eagles grab 16 for the game.
Lipscomb’s 49 percent (31-63) shooting night from the floor was aided by 27 assists to just 11 turnovers. FGCU shot a solid 46 percent (26-57) for the game, but was hampered by a 12-of-24 evening at the free throw line.
Following a layup by Rivera that gave FGCU a 7-2 lead just over four minutes into the game, Lipscomb reeled off the game’s next six points to supply the first one of nine lead changes in the opening 20 minutes and take an 8-7 edge (13:02).
Points came at a premium of the first 10 minutes, as the score remained 8-7 in favor of the Bisons until the 9:47 mark when junior Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies/Calvary Christian/Ole Miss) gave the lead back to the Eagles, at 9-8.
The second 10 minutes of the opening frame were much different, as both teams found their offensive rhythm and combined to score 50 points. Not included in the scoring frenzy was reigning A-Sun All-Conference Player of the Year and the league’s leading scorer Adnan Hodzic who was held to zero points and 0-for-5 from the field in the first half.
With Hodzic struggling and FGCU’s leading scorer Banks limited to just two points, both teams turned to their guards for a majority of their scoring in the first half. Varidel’s two free throws with 47 second left in the half gave the Eagles a one-point lead, 31-30, after trailing by as many as five.
Lipscomb came right back, though, with a pair of three-pointers in the final minute to take a 36-31 lead into the locker room. The Bisons shot just 34 percent (12-35) from the field, but cashed in on 7-of-15 three-pointers. Varidel and Rivera combined for 19 of FGCU’s 31 points.
Three-pointers accounted for eight of Lipscomb’s first 10 made field goals in the second half, as the Bisons took a 66-54 lead with 9:13 on the clock. The Eagles were able to keep the deficit under double figures for a while thanks to Banks, who scored the first eight points of the period.
Junior Tim Snyder (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Hillsborough CC) finished with nine points and six rebounds, while Fieler added eight points.
FGCU will enjoy a weekend at Alico Arena starting on Friday, Feb. 4 against second place ETSU. Gametime is slated for 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live on www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.