Waleska, Ga.– On Saturday, Brandon Cole (SR/Crossville, Tenn.) registered his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 35 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Lions took a 14-point lead into the half and never surrendered it, eventually earning their first Appalachian Athletic Conference win of the season, 88-79, against Reinhardt.
Three minutes into the first half the Lions jumped out to a five-point lead after Brice Cusick (SO/Jefferson City, Tenn.) knocked down the long range shot, and both Reinhardt and Bryan went back-and-forth behind the arc as the Eagles cut the lead to two with a three-pointer and Tyler Yoder (SO/Crossville, Tenn.) countered to put the Lions up 13-8.
Midway through the first half the Eagles rallied to gain the lead, but it would be the last time for Reinhardt. Bryan battled back and took a 30-25 lead and established a 19-10 run to create some space, making it 49-35 at the break. Cole aided in the run, collecting 22 first half points.
Five minutes into the second half, the Eagle's Corey Ricks nailed a jumper to cut the deficit to six. The next basket came from Cole after a Yoder steal. This served as the starting point of the largest run by Bryan all night long. The Lions followed up the score by Cole with 16 unanswered points. Oteriah Lee (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.), Robert Troino (SR/Crossville, Tenn.), Terrance Scales (SO/Cedar Bluff, Ala.), and Cole all helped contribute during the 16-0 run.
With eight minutes left in the ballgame, Lee made his way to the free throw line and knocked down both shots to give the Lions a 25-point lead (73-48), which was the largest lead of the game. Reinhardt soared their way to a single-digit difference, but the Lion's lead was too much for the Eagles. In the final minutes the Lions took advantage of the Eagle's missed opportunities, and two made free throws by Yoder in the final 47 seconds sealed the 88-79 Bryan victory.
The Lions outshot the Eagles from the floor, finishing 44% compared to Reinhardt's 33%. Bryan compiled 51 rebounds, while Reinhardt ended with 42.
Two other Lions produced double-digit scoring along with Cole. Lee and Troino both scored 13 points, respectively, and Lee finished with a team-high four assists. Troino did most of his damage from the free throw line, going 6-7. Cusick was close to a double-double, notching nine points while leading the team with 12 boards.
Coming off three consecutive games with at least 30 points and two double-doubles, Cole currently leads the AAC and Division II in both points per game (31.2) and total scoring (219). His rebounding places him 4th in Division II in total rebounds (78) and 9th in total rebounds per game (11.1).
Picking up their first conference win, Head Bryan Lions Men's Basketball Coach, Don Rekoske explained, "I thought it was the best game we've had defensively. We forced them into shooting 33%, which is their lowest shooting percentage game of the season. This was the difference maker. We were good on the offensive end, but we had our best game on the defensive end."
The win moves the Lions to 4-3 and 1-1 in AAC play. Bryan continues conference play tomorrow on the road against Tennessee Wesleyan at 7:30pm.
For the full Bryan College Men's Basketball schedule, visit bryanlions.com/mbb.