Cusick Drops 30, Helping Lions Defeat Oakwood In Season Opener 83-78
October 23, 2017
DAYTON, Tenn. – The 6-7 big man, senior center/forward from Jefferson City, Tenn. Brice Cusick, would be the Bryan College Lions Men’s Basketball team’s key weapon in countering the Oakwood University Ambassador’s (Ala.) deadly three-point shooting in Monday night’s 2017-18 season opener in Summers Gymnasium. In the final minutes, Cusick showed his deep shooting ability by draining a pair of clutch treys along with a pair of free throws, holding off Oakwood as Bryan claimed the 83-79 victory in their first game of the year. Cusick would go on to compile a team-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting, 5-of-9 behind the arc, complete 7-of-10 from the foul line, and corral six rebounds. Trailing Cusick was standout point guard Oteriah Lee who shot 3-of-8 but did most of his damage at the free throw line as he made 11-of-14, ending with 17 points and team-best six assists. Two other Lions made it into double-digit scoring as Terrance Scales registered 12 points on an efficient 2-of-3 shooting from outside and 6-of-6 on free throws, while freshman Isaiah McClain showed great finishing capability as he produced 11 points.
Both sides shot 14-of-29 in the opening half with the Ambassadors getting the narrow edge over the Lions from the three-point line, 7-5, but Bryan would go into the locker room with a 41-37 lead at the half because of their 15 trips to the foul line compared to Oakwood’s three total first-half free throws.
A trio of three-pointers by the Ambassadors helped them jump out to an 11-7 lead in the first four minutes of the game, but Cusick assisted Reagan Johnson for a quick bucket and Caleb Tuck’s lock tight defense gave way to a turnover by Oakwood before Tuck would go on to score his first two points of the game, leveling the score 11-11 at 14:17. The rally continued as Tyler Yoder connected with Lee for a score from inside and Lee passed to Cusick who capitalized with a hook shot to go ahead 15-11. At the midway point of the first half, the Ambassadors had successfully cut the deficit to one point, 22-21, and managed to tie the score at 24 apiece with 9:10 on the clock. The momentum kept building for Oakwood as they battled for their largest lead of the entire game at 31-26, but a made foul shot from Lee, three-pointer from Cusick, and a layup by McClain helped Bryan regain the lead 32-31. Over the next two minutes, a total of four lead changes occurred, but it would be the Lions who claw their way on top and fend off the Ambassadors for a 41-37 advantage at halftime.
Six minutes into the second period, Lee made 1-of-2 foul shots, giving Bryan their largest separation from Oakwood at seven points, 50-43. The Lions allowed the Ambassadors too much room as Oakwood countered with back-to-back shots from downtown, slimming the margin to 50-49. A finish in the paint by Cusick and a made free throw by McClain lifted Bryan’s lead back to four points, 53-49, but the back and forth bout would linger as the Ambassadors rallied for their first lead of the second half at the seven minute mark, 57-56. Oakwood controlled the advantage three minutes with the game changer coming from three made foul shots by Cusick following a foul with a technical foul stacked on. The Ambassadors sank two foul shots in hopes to keep distance from the Lions, 64-60, but a deep three-pointer nailed by Scales cut the deficit to one, 64-63, with 4:18 left in the game. One minute and 10 seconds expired before the next player would score, and it was Lee who broke the silence with two made free throws to reclaim a lead for Bryan that wouldn’t be surrendered for the duration of the contest. An and-one play by Oakwood tied the game 67-67 at 2:49, but Scales answered back with a make from deep. A made basket on the opposite end drew Oakwood within one point at 70-69, but this time Scales found Cusick who took his turn from three-point land, giving Bryan a 73-69 lead. The Ambassadors needed a big shot, and that’s what they were able to scrape up with another made three-pointer, but Cusick quieted Oakwood with a successful trey for a 76-72 lead with 38 seconds remaining. The three-point battle ended with the Ambassadors sinking the last long range shot, but made bonus free throws helped the Lions seal the win as Cusick made two and Scales made two. Oakwood took three outside shots in the last 30 seconds but all came up short. Lee recorded two more made foul shots as Bryan outlasted Oakwood 83-78.
The Lions outshot the Ambassadors 47.8 percent compared to their 45.8 percent and got the narrow advantage in three-point shooting with a notable 42.9 percent from deep. Even though Oakwood had a slight better free throw shooting percentage, their 16 attempts wouldn’t come close to Bryan’s 44 total looks from the foul line. Other scorers for the Lions included Yoder with seven points, Tuck with three points, Johnson with two points, and one point by EJ Bush. Even though Bush was quite in the scoring department, he helped Bryan on the boards with a team leading nine rebounds.
Bryan takes one day off before returning to action at home as they host NCCAA opponent, Johnson University (Tenn.), on Wednesday, Oct. 25 with tipoff slated for 7:30pm.