Lipscomb’s opening-night affair against the South Dakota Coyotes started as one of immense promise, but ended with a dejected Bisons team walking off the floor of the Sanford Coyote Sports Center after a 85-77 loss at the hands of the Coyotes.
The Bisons were led by a 20-point outing by junior guard Will Pruitt and an 18 point showing by sophomore forward Jacob Ognacevic.
Head coach Lennie Acuff’s team shot 45.2% from the field, 38.5% from the 3-point line while the Coyotes shot 49% total and 55% from 3-point range.
Lipscomb came out of the gate firing with a 16-4 run. Sophomore shooting guard Trae Benham led off the scoring with a mid-range jumper just a minute into the game, while Will Pruitt led the run with eight early points.
The Bisons also had some early energy defensively that resulted in a few blocked shots by graduate forward Matt Schner and senior center Ahsan Asadullah.
The Bisons extended held on to a 32-27 lead at the 3:46 media timeout behind 15 bench points between Ognacevic, sophomore Quincy Clark, and transfer wing A.J. McGinnis.
Lipscomb’s offense quickly became stagnant after Asadullah and Schner picked up their second fouls and were subbed out. The Bisons lead was cut to 37-33 before Schner returned to the game and Lipscomb’s transfers extended their lead back to 42-35.
The Bisons held on to their slim lead throughout the early second half, but South Dakota tied it up with just under nine minutes to go.
The Coyotes then took the lead with 7:54 to go on a Tasos Kamateros free throw.
The Bisons then turned to Derrin Boyd, who provided a few quick buckets, but the Coyotes extended their lead to 69-59 after a 17-2 run and put the Bisons away.
The Coyotes held on to their late lead and won by eight. At one point, Lipscomb possessed the largest lead of the night with a score of 27-12.
Wednesday’s game was a tale of two halves
One of Lipscomb’s biggest issues from the 2021-22 season was their inability to hold on to leads against explosive offensive opponents, the struggles continued for the Bisons on opening night.
The Bisons possessed the lead or were tied for the entire first half, shot 53.3% from the field with a 41.2% mark from 3-point range. Acuff’s team won the turnover battle and ended the half with a seven point lead.
In the second half, the Bisons were outscored by 14, outshot by 16.3% from the field and 52.4% from beyond the arc, and outrebounded by seven.
The Bisons couldn’t keep pace with the efficient attack of the Coyotes in the second half, and dropped their opening-night contest because of it.
Three Quick Takes:
Lipscomb’s defense showed flashes of disruptiveness but is still a work in progress
Lennie Acuff’s biggest emphasis point this offseason was his team’s defense.
As a team and on an individual level, Acuff’s team has worked to improve defensively at every level.
Although the personnel is largely the same, the Bisons’ defense came out with energy and intensity that led to a few early blocked shots and turnovers.
The Bisons forced nine turnovers throughout the night and blocked five shots, three of which came from Asadullah, the other two were from Schner.
The encouraging signs defensively quickly grew stagnant, though.
Late in the first half and throughout the second half, the bottom started to fall out of the Lipscomb defense and the Coyotes sparked a significant run behind ten made threes and a 49.1% field goal percentage.
Lipscomb’s defense showed signs of progress, but ultimately still gave up 75 points and found themselves on the wrong side of their opening night contest.
Everything flows through Asadullah
One of Asadullah’s first touches of the night was a microcosm of what his season will look like.
A behind the back pass to lead a cutting Will Pruitt into an open layup.
The 6th year big man showed early on how important he is to the Bisons, when Asadullah was on the floor, the Bisons’ offense ran through the veteran big man.
Unfortunately for the Bisons, the 6-foot-10 forward got into foul trouble late in the first half and only charted 23 minutes total.
When Asadullah was off the floor, the Bisons offense looked drastically different and struggled at times.
The three time All-ASUN selection finished with just four points, five assists, and six rebounds on 28.6% from the field.
Lipscomb’s bench will play a big role in their operation
Lipscomb’s starters got out to a strong start, but what allowed the Bisons to hold on to their lead through the end of the first half was the play of their bench.
Acuff was quick to turn to his Tommy Murr-less bench and it paid off for him, at least throughout the first half.
Eighteen of the Bisons’ 42 points were generated from their second unit of Ognacevic, McGinnis, Clark, and sophomore forward Grant Asman.
The Lipscomb bench took up 62 of the 200 total minutes throughout the night and contributed 33.8% of their total points.
Acuff leaned heavily on his bench tonight and will likely continue to do more of the same as he gets Murr back from a shoulder injury.
The Bisons came out and showed flashes of what they can be all night, but ultimately fell short against the Coyotes.
Lipscomb will return to action Saturday at 4:30 p.m. central against Campbellsville-Harrodsburg at Allen Arena.
That match will be broadcast live on The Bison, Lipscomb’s on-campus radio station.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics