Dayton, Tenn. – Brandon Cole (SR/Crossville, Tenn.) registered a double-double as the Bryan Lions notched an 80-72 victory over Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Bluefield College (Va.) tonight. The win puts the Lions at 5-5 overall and evens it up 2-2 in conference action.
Along with Cole leading all scorers and rebounders with 34 points (13-for-20) and 11 boards, both Brice Cusick (SO/Jefferson City, Tenn.) and Robert Troino (SR/Crossville, Tenn.) each compiled double-digit scoring. Cusick went 7-for-13 from the floor for 15 points and helped on the glass with six boards. Troino chipped in 10 points, going 2-for-9, and had a successful night at the foul line making 5-for-6. Oteriah Lee (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) helped distribute the ball for the lions, tallying a team-high six assists.
Bryan pulled ahead four minutes into the first half and never looked back, increasing the margin to 16 points late in the first period. After the Lions took a 12-point lead into the second half, Bluefield scrambled to eventually cut the Lion's lead to single-digits with five minutes left to play. Under two minutes to play and down 75-70, the Rams were unable to make up any room. Troino locked up the 80-72 win after capitalizing on bonus free throws in the final minute.
Bluefield hit a 3-pointer and close bucket to score the first five points of the game, but Bryan countered scoring nine unanswered points. The run consisted of seven straight points from Cole, and Troino nailed the deep shot to put the Lions up 9-5. Bryan battled for a double-digit lead with five minutes left of play in the first half and continued to hold off Bluefield as Cole hit a buzzer beater to take a 34-22 lead into the break. A game changer for the Lions was the 42.4 percent (14-for-33) shooting in the first half compared to the Ram's 29.6 percent (8-for-27).
Bryan maintained a comfortable lead, and a pair of free throws from Cole at the 11:40 mark gave the Lions their largest lead all game of 20 points, putting them up 60-40. Minutes later the Rams were down 66-53 and scored five consecutive points to cut the deficit to nine points.
It started to turn south for Bryan after Bluefield came away with a steal and scored off a fast break to bring the Rams within five points. From that point on, Bluefield put the pressure on Troino by sending him to the foul line in bonus situation. Troino netted both free throws, but the Rams marched back down and cut Bryan's lead back to five points with a quick basket. Once again, Troino continued to strip away any chance Bluefield had by making two more foul shots. The next possession the Rams couldn't connect, and Troino ended the game with one more free throw, giving way to an 80-72 victory.
Cole remains No. 1 in the AAC in both scoring and points per game with 252 total points and 31.5 points per game. He ranks No. 1 in Division II in points per game and No. 3 in total scoring. Cole also leads the team in rebounds and places No. 5 in the conference in total rebounds with 90 and No. 2 in rebounds per game with 11.25. Tonight's double-double makes him the AAC individual stats leader in double-doubles with six.
The Lions travel to Florida for their next games, taking on Webber International Dec. 11th and both Johnson University Florida and Florida College Dec. 12th. Tipoff against Webber is set for 11am, Johnson University's game is 11:30am, and the contest against Florida College is set for 3pm.
For the full Bryan College Men's Basketball schedule, click here.