No. 9 Union Proves Too Much for Bryan Men’s Basketball
BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – Keaton Dotson stayed hot and was joined by Geevantay Gee and Austin Douglas with double-digit performances Tuesday night at Robsion Arena, but the Bryan College men’s basketball team fell behind late in the first half and were unable to recover as Union College, the 9th-ranked team in the country, overwhelmed the Lions 102-69 to stay perfect in Appalachian Athletic Conference play at 4-0 while improving their overall record to 5-2. The loss for Bryan moved their overall mark to 4-5 and dropped them to 2-3 in conference play.
Leading the Lion Pride was Dotson who shot 7-for-12 in the game, including 2-for-5 from three-point territory and 3-for-5 at the foul line, totaling 19 points to go along with his team-high five rebounds. Trailing Dotson was Gee who matched his season-best with 12 points going 5-for-8. Douglas finished 4-for-8 with 10 points and three boards. Gee matched teammate Isaiah McClain with a team-high two assists. Other Lions to get involved in the scoring were Noah Mulaski with eight points, the duo of Brandon Thomas and Justin Warner with six points apiece, Trey Spencer with three points, both KJ Hawkins and Riley Dempsey with two points each, and Clay Hertel with a lone free throw. Hertel aided defensively with a team-leading four steals followed by Mulaski who tallied three takeaways. Hertel and Warner chipped in on the boards with four rebounds, respectively.
Bryan shot over 40 percent in the opening half and responded with a 51.9 average in the latter period. Even with the Lions posting notable numbers, it was difficult to best the top-ranked Bulldogs who posted a 50 percent in the first half and 60.5 percent in the second half. The three-point shooting was slow for Bryan at the start as they went 0-for-8 while Union was 6-for-12. The Lions came back with a 4-for-10 display in the final frame, but the Bulldogs didn’t back off by making 8-for-15 behind the arc in the second half. Bryan had an opportunity to use the foul line to make a difference, but the Lions struggled going 11-for-29. Even though Union didn’t have as many looks at the foul line, they also came up short with just 4-for-13 on free throw attempts. Where the Bulldogs gained a massive advantage was on the boards, outrebounding the Lions 50-30. Six Union players reached double-digits with Lance Blakley’s 22 points highlighting the effort, as well as, K.J. Duronslet who completed the double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs bit the Lions for a 14-4 rally to begin the opening half. The crowd cheered the home team to their largest lead of the first period near the midway point when Union went up by as many as 18 points at 28-10. In the final minute before the break, Bryan managed to briefly drop the difference back to single-digits at 38-29 thanks to a five-point swing for the Lions that consisted of a second-chance opportunity capitalized on by Mulaski, a made free throw by Warner, and a three-pointer drained by Dotson following a steal from Hertel. The Bulldogs rattled off a trey, and Warner cashed in one more foul shot, leaving Union ahead 41-30 at halftime.
Dotson was the first player to get on the board in the second half, as the Lions closed the gap to nine points. Over the next three minutes, Bryan would find the bottom of the rim, but Union continually matched the Lions with a make on the opposite end of the floor. The difference maker came at 16:33 when Bryan trailed 40-48. Union used ten unanswered points to claim a commanding 18-point lead at 58-40. The Bulldogs slowly extended their separation, seeing a 25-point lead near the 10-minute mark, and eclipsing a 30-point edge with five minutes remaining, 86-56. In the final minutes, Union saw their largest lead of 36 points at 99-63 and 102-66 before Spencer dropped in a three-pointer to wrap up play 102-69.
Another tough test lies ahead for Bryan in their next matchup when they return from Thanksgiving Break and take on an undefeated Montreat College (N.C.) team at home. The Cavaliers are currently 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the AAC. The two will tip-off at 7:30pm on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in Summers Gymnasium.