Tech men rallies to beat Lipscomb

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Tech men rallies to beat Lipscomb

NASHVILLE It was a tale of two halves for the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles overcame a 14 point halftime deficit at the hands of in state rival Lipscomb to collect their sixth straight victory and match their best start since 2005 06.

A back and forth affair early in the first half, the Bisons quickly turned a 20 20 contest into 16 point lead in a matter of less than five minutes, capturing their largest advantage in the game with just under five minutes left in the first half. Tech managed to trim the deficit by two points to 46 32, thanks to a layup by Hakeem Rogers with under a minute in the period, but a daunting task laid ahead for the Golden Eagles.

Lipscomb simply made shots in the first stanza, hitting over 50 percent of its field goal attempts, including 7 of 17 from beyond the arc. The home team also beat the Golden Eagles on the glass, owning a six board advantage. Tech struggled from the field early, shooting just 31.3 percent and 35.7 percent from 3 point range.

But as Golden Eagle fans have quickly learned this season, there is no deficit too large and no hole too deep when you refuse to give up and continue to play the game.

Following the halftime break, the tables quickly turned in the arena, with the Golden Eagles looking like the team with the 14 point lead. Tech opened the half on an 11 0 run, forcing Lipscomb (3 7) into an early timeout after less than three minutes into the period following a 3 pointer from Aleksa Jugovic.

In no time at all, the deficit shrunk to three, but the Bisons refused to simply roll over and seemed to have an almost “over our dead bodies” mentality when it came to surrendering the lead complete. Despite trimming the home team’s advantage by 11 points in under three minutes, it would take the Golden Eagle another 12 to finally finish off their rally, taking their first lead since the 13:29 mark of the first half with a little over five minutes remaining in the contest.

Tech (7 2) seemed to have broken the spirit of the Bisons, refusing to let go of its advantage with every attempt by the home squad. Each time Lipscomb attacked, the Golden Eagles seemed to answer.

A missed 3 point attempt by Eli Pepper led to a transition, three point play senior guard Torrance Rowe, whose role in the victory would not go unnoticed. Lipscomb answered with a Brett Wishon layup on the next possession. A couple of missed opportunities and a foul sent the Bisons’ Josh Williams with a chance to tie it, but the junior was able to convert just one free throw.

Rowe responded about a minute later, drilling one of his four second half triples for another four point advantage for Tech. Boom. Josh Williams matched him with his own trey. Back to a one point game.

Senior forward Ryan Martin made a three point game again, sinking a jumper from the paint. Hampton drew a crucial foul on the defensive glass, resulting in Martin’s fifth foul and a trip to the line with a chance to cut the Tech lead back to one. He did just that.

Lipscomb then went back to the charity stripe with a chance to take the lead back when what seemed like a clean, Shirmane Thomas block was deemed a shooting foul to send Josh Williams to line with 28 seconds to play. Much to the chagrin of the home fans, Williams missed the second attempt, giving Tech the ball with a tie game and no shot clock.

Most would give the advantage to the visitors, but Lipscomb guard Nathan Moran had other plans. Playing tight defense on Rowe from the moment he collected the ball, Moran stripped the Golden Eagle guard at midcourt, racing to bucket for an easy layin with just 17 seconds left on the scoreboard. The Bisons cheap jerseys finally took back what they thought was theirs all along.

Unfortunately, they didn’t realize who they were dealing with. Experienced with taking the big shot for the Golden Eagles Rowe made the game winning three pointer in a 19 point comeback against Chattanooga last year and the game tying layup in a 10 point rally against Jackson State earlier this season the senior from Atlanta, Ga. calmly jogged up the court with the ball, pulled up from about five feet beyond the 3 point line and casually dropped a three point dagger into the hearts of every Bisons fan in the building.

Making sure they had time to gather themselves for a smart defensive play, Golden Eagle head coach Steve Payne wisely used his final timeout, drawing up a loose press so as not give up any cheap buckets.

Lipscomb got the ball to their man, Josh Williams, and the junior drove the lane looking for the game winning bucket in the team’s first home game in Allen Arena in the 2015 16 season.

And then WHAM! Out of nowhere, the mammoth hand of senior forward Anthony Morse provided the exclamation point a victory like that deserved, rejecting the junior’s shot into the arms of Mason Ramsey.

The sophomore forward corralled the ball before Williams fouled him with under a second to play. Ramsey drained both free throw attempts to give Tech the 81 78 lead that would also represent the final score. A Lipscomb throw in attempt failed with the final play, with Morse tipping the pass into the hands of Shirmane Thomas to cap and incredible comeback for the second time in two games.

Oh. Did you not know? The 16 point come from behind victory marked the second of rally of 15 points or more by the Golden Eagles in four days. Tech erased a 15 point deficit against another in state rival (East Tennessee State) on Wednesday night to increase the win streak to five. Now the streak is up to six thanks to an unmatched attitude that no game is ever over entrenched in the minds of every Golden Eagle player.

“These guys are great competitors,” head coach Steve Payne explained when asked about the back to back rallies. “I don’t tell them much at halftime other than what I tell them in practice every day. They really compete hard. They’re great kids. But we need to be good the whole 40 minutes. Right now we’re not and to be a good team, we need to fix that. And we will.”Crucial to every comeback this season, Rowe led all scorers on the night with 26 points, including a blistering second half that saw him sink six out of his eight field goal attempts, all three free throws and four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. He also corralled five of his six rebounds in the second half. Overall he finished with five assists and three steals while playing every minute of the contest and knocking down the eventual game winner.

“”There was never a doubt about what he [Rowe] was going to do after he got the ball stolen from him and they took the lead,” Payne responded when asked about the leadership of his seniors Torrance Rowe, Ryan Martin and Anthony Morse. “It didn’t matter what play we called. He was shooting the ball. I knew that was coming and he made a good shot. He’s a competitor. They all are. Torrance, Ryan and Ant all made big plays down the stretch and that’s what we expect our seniors to do. Lead by example. They did a great job of that tonight when it mattered.”

Not to be overlooked, Martin notched his second double double in as many games and his third of the season thanks to 8 of 13 shooting and a warrior like effort on the glass. The big man poured in 18 points and collected 11 boards.

Rogers, whose 11 first half points kept the team afloat, finished the contest with 14, hitting on three triples on seven attempts. Jugovic also scored in double digits, dropping three treys and a couple of free throws for 11 points.

Morse made his presence felt on the defensive end of the court, rejecting four shots, including the game saving block to essentially end the game. He also hauled in six rebounds despite being limited to 19 minutes due to early foul trouble.

As a team, Tech finished the game with 44 rebounds, outworking Lipscomb on the glass in the second half by 11 boards. The team made 15 of 18 free throw attempts, marking the team’s seventh game of shooting 70 percent or better from the charity stripe.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles moved to 42 7 all time against the Bisons and collected their first road victory in their last 12 tries. Tech had not won a road contest since Dec. 22 of last season, a blowout W at UMKC.

Categories: Columns

Added: Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 0:58


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