Babson Park, Fla. – The Bryan Lions Men's Basketball team hit the road over the weekend to sunny Florida for some hoops action before heading into the Christmas break, and Webber International University was the first stop for the Bryan team on Friday. After a close game against conference foe Bluefield College (Va.) on Dec. 3rd (W-80-72), the Lions found themselves in another nail-biter, clawing their way to an advantage at the half, but a big second half from the Warriors of Webber sent the game into overtime. Both teams went back-and-forth, but a buzzer beater three pointer was all she wrote as Webber sealed the 85-82 victory.
Brandon Cole (SR/Crossville, Tenn.) led the lions with 34 points (13-for-26), going 8-for-12 from the foul line, and grabbed nine rebounds along with two steals. Two other Lions registered double-digit points: Tyler Yoder (SO/Crossville, Tenn.) tallied 21 points (7-for-16, 7-for-13 behind the arc) and five rebounds, while Oteriah Lee (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) shot 4-for-11, scoring 11 points, and swiping a team-high six steals. Brice Cusick (SO/Jefferson City, Tenn.) nearly picked up his first career double-double, scoring nine points (3-for-8) and collecting a team-high 11 rebounds.
Down 4-7 to start the game, Robert Troino (SR/Crossville, Tenn.) found Yoder who drilled the three-pointer to give the Lions just what they needed to rally for a run. In the next possession Yoder came up with the ball after a Webber turnover and he didn't hesitate, pulling up from long distance to put Bryan up 10-7. Other than a free-throw from the Warriors, the Lions continued with eight unanswered points. Cole took care of five of the points, and the remaining three came from Yoder's hot hands, giving Bryan a 21-10 lead. The Lions were up by 16 points at one time midway through the first half, but the Warriors managed to outscore the Lions 14-8 in the final six minutes, cutting the deficit to eight points, 43-35.
Webber International took their turn to run the table in the start of the second half, creating a 10-2 run to level the score at 45-45. Bryan countered with another run, scoring 15 points compared to Webber's four points, which was put together over a five-minute window. Things looked good for Bryan with an 11-point lead, 70-59, and less than three minutes left to play. A four-point play from the Warriors stirred a comeback as each team continued to trade points, and another three-pointer with 27 seconds left gave Webber all the chance they needed. As the Lions held a 71-68 lead, the Warriors went to the foul line with 13 seconds remaining. Webber sank the first free throw, but things got interesting when the second foul shot was missed but snatched up and put back up by the Warriors as the finals seconds ticked away to force overtime.
The Warriors controlled the lead for the majority of the overtime period, but Troino knotted the game up 82-82 with 18 seconds left. The pressure was applied, but Webber responded with a deep three to lift the Warriors to an 82-85 victory.
The Lions continued the great shooting Saturday, but this time there was no late comeback as the Johnson University Florida Suns trailed early after a commanding 37-22 first half performance from Bryan and couldn't close the gap. The Suns tried to keep close, but the Lions were too much as Bryan sailed away with the 70-51 win.
Troino was the man of the hour, connecting on 5-for-8 from downtown and ending with a team-high 17 points. Yoder picked up from where he left off on Friday, shooting 5-for-12 and 3-for-9 from the three-point line, notching 13 points as the only other Lion with double-digit scoring. Reagan Johnson (SO/Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and Cole aided Bryan on the glass, each finishing with a team-high seven rebounds, respectively. Lee assisted a season-high 10 times to lead Bryan in the assist's column.
The outside shot proved difficult to contain as the Lions shot 11-33 from the three-point line, while the Suns managed 2-10 from the outside. The Lions finished 42.6 percent for the game, and the Suns shot 39 percent from the floor. Bryan also controlled the rebounding, recording 44 rebounds compared to Johnson's 23.
Bryan sits at an even 6-6 overall record and remain 2-2 in conference action.
The final game before break is this Friday, Dec. 18th, as the Lions host Hiwassee College (Tenn.) at 6:00pm in Summers Gymnasium.
For the full Bryan Lions Men's Basketball schedule, click here.