Hiwassee Comes From Behind, Defeating Men’s Basketball 67-65
DAYTON, Tenn. – Hiwassee College fell to the Bryan College Men’s Basketball team in their previous meeting this season when the Lions topped the Tigers 76-62 at their place, but Hiwassee was able to avenge their first loss to Bryan Saturday evening despite trailing to the home team 30-20 at the break. The Lions controlled the lead until the seven-minute mark in the second half when the Tigers went out front 52-51. Bryan answered back, but after taking advantage Hiwassee rallied again for another lead change. The tug of war for the lead continued until a three-pointer drained by the Tigers with 1:23 left ended the hopes of the Lions, providing Hiwassee a 67-62 edge. Brice Cusick was able to score from inside, and Oteriah Lee went to the foul line and hit the second of the double bonus free throws before Hiwassee would go on to take the game with a final score of 67-65.
In the first half, both sides struggled to find the hoop as the Lions bettered the Tigers 35.3 percent to their 28.6 percent. Free throws have caused issues for Bryan in recent games and did so once again as the Lions could only convert 11-of-24. A difference maker for Hiwassee was how the crashed the boards in the second half and shot 55.6 percent in the period compared to Bryan’s 33.3 average in the final half. For the game, the Tigers outrebounded the Lions 53-39 and connected on 43.8 percent while Bryan was successful for 34.3 percent. The Lions showed composure as they allowed 11 turnovers and forced the Tigers into 24 total turnovers.
A jumper by Hiwassee midway through the first half gave them their last lead of the opening period as Bryan went down the opposite end of the floor where Lee found Yoder who swished the trey. The run continued with Lee stealing the ball and going the full length of the court before finishing at the rim. The next make was from Clay Hertel, who helped the Lions claw their way ahead 17-11 with 8:29 before halftime. The Tigers slowly chipped away at the deficit, but the lowest it would go is two points at 18-16 with 5:48 on the clock. Helping Bryan go into the locker room with a 30-20 advantage was AJ Jones who cashed in a pair of three’s in the final minutes of the first half.
Bryan stayed out in front, seamlessly directing the pace of the game as the second half got underway. Hiwassee slimmed the gap to single-digits, but buckets by EJ Bush and Lee kept the Lions with a comfortable double-figure difference with just under 14 minutes remaining. A swing in momentum erupted for the Tigers at 13:20 when they made a shot from deep, came up with a stop, and then dealt another three-pointer to come within four points, 46-42. Reagan Johnson hoped to slow down Hiwassee with a pair of made foul shots, but five unanswered points that included an additional three for the Tigers made it a one-point ball game, 48-47, with 10:54 left. The Lions were able to defend the lead until the Tigers rose up behind the arc and tacked on a three-ball to swipe away the lead 52-51. A basket by Bush at the four-minute mark and a mid-range jumper from Lee with two and a half minutes remaining would be the only other times that Bryan would regain the lead. Hiwassee completed two and-one plays and hit another shot from downtown in the final minute to hold off the Lions and seal the 67-65 final.
Lee led the Lions with a team-high 20 points, going 8-of-22, dished out six assists, and had five steals. The only other Bryan player to notch double-digits was Cusick who went 5-of-10 for 13 points and secured six rebounds. Bryan’s leader on the boards was Bush who corralled seven and also matched Jones for eight points. Yoder ended with seven points, Hertel chipped in four points, and both Johnson and Justin Warner produced two points, respectively. Isaiah McClain tallied one point, one rebound, and one steal.
The loss causes the Lions to fall to 5-3 overall, while the Tigers improve their overall record to 5-3.
Bryan is back to Appalachian Athletic Conference play as they travel to Truett McConnell University (Ga.) on Tuesday, Nov. 21 with tipoff slated for 7pm.