NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Garrison Mathews scored 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds — both season highs — and Lipscomb held off Florida Gulf Coast 89-81 on Thursday in a rematch of last season's Atlantic Sun Conference championship that sent the Bisons to the NCAA Tournament.
FGCU, defending two-time A-Sun champions, were 20-point underdogs on the road Thursday, but hung with conference-leading Lipscomb, taking the lead five times in the second half. Lipscomb and Liberty are both 6-0 in A-Sun.
Mathews scored seven straight to give Lipscomb the lead for good with 1:54 remaining.
Dinero Mercurious topped the Eagles (7-14, 2-4) with 17 points and four 3-pointers, Schadrac Casimir added 14 points and Troy Baxter 10.
Matt Rose and Michael Buckland each scored 11 for Lipscomb (15-4).
Lipscomb led 42-35 at the break, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half. FGCU flipped the script after halftime, cutting their turnovers to five while forcing nine from Lipscomb for 11 points.
The Eagles outscored Lipscomb 11-6 to open the second half and took a 56-55 lead on a Brian Thomas basket in the paint midway through the period. It was FGCU's first lead since five minutes into the first half.