Strong scores 16, ETSU downs Lipscomb 81-74 in A-Sun quarterfinals

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Travis Strong scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half, and East Tennessee State never trailed in an 81-74 victory over Lipscomb in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament Thursday night.

ETSU (19-12) will play two-time defending tournament champion Belmont, the top-seeded team in the field, in Friday night’s semifinals. The game will be a rematch of last year’s championship. Belmont, which advanced with a 66-57 quarterfinal victory over Campbell on Wednesday night, swept ETSU during the regular season.

Lipscomb (15-16) missed the chance to use a home-court advantage to advance in the tournament being played at Allen Arena.

Strong’s baseline jumper with 1:47 left broke a 71-71 tie and began an 8-0 run that put the game away in the closing moments. Kenyona Swader added 11 points and 14 rebounds for ETSU, while Kevin Tiggs and Mike Smith each had 10 points.

Fourth-seeded ETSU led by as many as 15 points in the first half and was still ahead 46-37 at halftime.

Lipscomb made a couple of runs at the Bucs, climbing to within 66-65 with five minutes left on two-3-point baskets.

When ETSU turned the ball over, the Bisons had a chance to take the lead for the first time. But Eddie Ard missed a shot and Andrew Reeds hook shot put the Bucs back up by three. Moments later, Lipscomb finally tied it when a 3-point play by Jimmy Oden made it 71-71 with 2:08 remaining. It was only the second tie of the game.

Strong’s final basket then started the fateful closing run.

Ard led Lipscomb with 19 points. LaKory Daniels and Michael Lusk each had 15.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 E. Tennessee St.
Kenyona Swader Kenyona Swader
2-6,  11 Pts
14 Rebs, 1 Assists
Eddie Ard Eddie Ard
7-16,  19 Pts
6 Rebs, 6 Assists

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Thursday, Mar 6