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Madness! Lipscomb tops FGCU 108-96, wins NCAA berth

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Madness.

That's the only way to explain this. Lipscomb led by 29 points at halftime, went up by 32 in the second half, then saw the lead get shredded down to five - on the road against a Florida Gulf Coast program that has squeezed the utmost from nearly every opportunity it has gotten in March since becoming the ''Dunk City'' NCAA darlings five years ago.

''We've experienced every emotion imaginable,'' Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said.

With that, it's time to experience another: The Bisons are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

Garrison Mathews scored 33 points and the second-seeded Bisons - once on the brink of all-out collapse - recovered just well enough in the final minutes to beat top-seeded FGCU 108-96 in the Atlantic Sun Conference title game on Sunday and win the league's automatic berth into the field of 68.

Lipscomb (23-9) shot 65 percent from the field, an utterly ridiculous 87 percent from 2-point range, and took 47 free throws to FGCU's 28 on the way to dethroning the two-time reigning A-Sun champion Eagles (23-11).

''Couldn't be happier,'' Alexander said. ''Someone asked me how I was feeling. I don't even know.''

He's got time to figure it out. Selection Sunday isn't for another week, and Lipscomb will be one of the teams on the bracket line.

''It was huge for us to keep our composure,'' Mathews said.

There are games of runs - and then there was this game, which went about as wildly back-and-forth as one can get.

In the first half, Lipscomb went on a 52-21 run to go up by 32. And just about every bit of that was needed, given that FGCU put together a 42-15 run of its own in the second half.

But the Bisons, who won twice on FGCU's floor this season, didn't crumble.

''An excellent performance,'' FGCU coach Joe Dooley said. ''They got on a roll. I compliment them. I congratulate them.''

Kenny Cooper scored 17 for Lipscomb, which made 15 of its first 18 shots. Rob Marberry and Matt Rose each scored 14 points and Eli Pepper finished with 13 for Lipscomb, which won despite giving up 65 points in the second half.

Zach Johnson tied an FGCU school record with 37 points, 29 of those coming after halftime. Brandon Goodwin added 34 for the Eagles, who were bidding for a fourth NCAA trip in the last six seasons.

Afterward, Johnson struggled containing his emotions when talking about FGCU's senior class.

''I feel like we didn't send them off right,'' Johnson said. ''Yes, we've got the NIT, but they just mean everything to me. They're my brothers.''

Mathews made his first four shots, three of them 3-pointers, in the first five minutes to set the tone for the Bisons, and he was up to 26 points by halftime.

The game was over.

Problem was, no one told FGCU.

The Eagles - still down by 32 with 16:33 remaining - went from finished to fighting to flourishing in the blink of an eye. Johnson scored 17 points in 3 1/2 minutes by himself, but even after that flurry FGCU still found itself down 19.

So they kept digging. Another 3-pointer from Johnson with 10:29 left cut the lead to 10. Goodwin's layup a minute later got it back to single digits for the first time in forever. Goodwin then connected on three 3-pointers in a 2-minute span, the last two of those getting the Eagles within five.

But they got no closer.

''Thankfully,'' Alexander said, ''the clock ran out.''

BIG PICTURE

Lipscomb: The Bisons (yes, they use the plural, not Bison) won the title on the 12th anniversary of their only other appearance in the A-Sun title game, a loss to Belmont on March 4, 2006. Alexander was an assistant on that Belmont team. ... Cooper was 11 for 16 from the foul line, and had nine assists.

FGCU: The Eagles lost for only the third time in their last 19 games, that run coming after a 7-8 start to the season. ... This was FGCU's sixth trip to the Atlantic Sun title game in seven seasons of eligibility.

NO SLUMPS

Lipscomb missed three consecutive shot attempts in one stretch - its last two of the first half and its first of the second half. That was the longest ''slump'' by the Bisons all afternoon.

UP NEXT

Lipscomb: On to the NCAA Tournament.

FGCU: Earned an automatic NIT berth as the regular-season conference champion.

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Key Players
M. Buckland
3 G
B. Goodwin
0 G
33.1 Min. Per Game 33.1
18.1 Pts. Per Game 18.1
4.8 Ast. Per Game 4.8
5.6 Reb. Per Game 5.6
38.5 Field Goal % 47.6
36.5 Three Point % 28.1
80.0 Free Throw % 75.0
  Defensive rebound by Garrison Mathews 14.0
  Christian Terrell missed driving layup, blocked by Michael Buckland 16.0
+ 2 Aaron Korn made layup, assist by Matt Rose 25.0
+ 1 Christian Terrell made 2nd of 2 free throws 37.0
+ 1 Christian Terrell made 1st of 2 free throws 37.0
  Personal foul on Garrison Mathews 37.0
  Defensive rebound by Brady Ernst 46.0
  Kenny Cooper missed 2nd of 2 free throws 46.0
  Kenny Cooper missed 1st of 2 free throws 46.0
  Personal foul on Brandon Goodwin 46.0
  Defensive rebound by Kenny Cooper 46.0
Team Stats
Points 108 96
Field Goals 32-49 (65.3%) 29-71 (40.8%)
3-Pointers 12-26 (46.2%) 16-40 (40.0%)
Free Throws 32-47 (68.1%) 22-28 (78.6%)
Total Rebounds 34 36
Offensive 5 18
Defensive 28 18
Team 1 0
Assists 24 13
Steals 12 9
Blocks 5 0
Turnovers 18 18
Fouls 21 30
Technicals 2 1
33 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST
37 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST
12T
away team logo Lipscomb 23-9 6048108
home team logo FGCU 23-11 316596
Team Stats
away team logo Lipscomb 23-9 85.0 PPG 40.4 RPG 17.6 APG
home team logo FGCU 23-11 70.7 PPG 35.1 RPG 13.6 APG
Key Players
24
G. Mathews G 19.5 PPG 5.1 RPG 1.9 APG 45.5 FG%
00
Z. Johnson G PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
G. Mathews G 33 PTS 9 REB 3 AST
Z. Johnson G 37 PTS 1 REB 2 AST
65.3 FG% 40.8
46.2 3PT FG% 40.0
68.1 FT% 78.6
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Mathews 33 9 3 10/18 7/14 6/9 2 35 0 1 3 2 7
K. Cooper 17 5 9 3/3 0/0 11/16 4 24 1 0 1 1 4
R. Marberry 14 3 3 5/5 0/0 4/6 5 28 3 0 2 0 3
E. Pepper 13 6 4 4/7 1/3 4/6 1 27 1 1 2 0 6
M. Buckland 5 4 3 1/4 0/2 3/4 2 34 5 3 6 1 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Mathews 33 9 3 10/18 7/14 6/9 2 35 0 1 3 2 7
K. Cooper 17 5 9 3/3 0/0 11/16 4 24 1 0 1 1 4
R. Marberry 14 3 3 5/5 0/0 4/6 5 28 3 0 2 0 3
E. Pepper 13 6 4 4/7 1/3 4/6 1 27 1 1 2 0 6
M. Buckland 5 4 3 1/4 0/2 3/4 2 34 5 3 6 1 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
M. Rose 14 1 1 4/6 3/5 3/4 1 16 0 0 0 0 1
G. Brammeier 6 2 0 3/3 0/0 0/0 2 8 1 0 1 1 1
A. Korn 6 3 1 2/3 1/2 1/2 2 24 0 0 3 0 3
A. Fleming 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
G. Jones 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0
A. Duvall - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Moran - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Asadullah - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Flener - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Merritt - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 108 33 24 32/49 12/26 32/47 21 200 12 5 18 5 28
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Z. Johnson 37 1 2 10/19 9/13 8/8 5 35 3 0 2 1 0
B. Goodwin 34 4 4 12/22 6/14 4/8 5 37 1 0 8 2 2
A. Simmons 11 8 0 4/6 0/0 3/4 3 19 0 0 0 5 3
C. Terrell 4 3 4 0/9 0/5 4/4 3 32 1 0 4 2 1
M. Gilmore 2 7 1 1/4 0/1 0/0 4 23 2 0 2 2 5
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Z. Johnson 37 1 2 10/19 9/13 8/8 5 35 3 0 2 1 0
B. Goodwin 34 4 4 12/22 6/14 4/8 5 37 1 0 8 2 2
A. Simmons 11 8 0 4/6 0/0 3/4 3 19 0 0 0 5 3
C. Terrell 4 3 4 0/9 0/5 4/4 3 32 1 0 4 2 1
M. Gilmore 2 7 1 1/4 0/1 0/0 4 23 2 0 2 2 5
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
D. Mercurius 5 3 1 1/7 1/7 2/2 3 21 1 0 0 2 1
R. Scott Jr. 2 3 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 2 7 0 0 0 1 2
C. Carlyle 1 6 0 0/2 0/0 1/2 5 17 1 0 1 3 3
R. Doyle 0 0 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0
B. Ernst 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
D. Rogers 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
B. Thomas 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0
J. Ko - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Mahoney - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. McAdoo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Rocuant - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 96 36 13 29/71 16/40 22/28 30 200 9 0 18 18 18