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Tay Smith
Tay Smith led the Bears with 20 points in the game.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Snaps Losing Streak

The Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team earned its first victory in three weeks with a 72-65 win over Tusculum.

The guard play of Tay Smith and Nas Tyson powered the Bears past the Pioneers with a combined 35 points and 14-26 shooting from the floor.

After Wednesday’s rough outing, LR came out of the gate with a 42-point first half performance by shooting 56 percent from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from three.

Despite the 15-point edge at the break, Tusculum came roaring back in the second half to cut the deficit to five with 2:12 remaining. However, the Bears locked in to force some poor Tusculum attempts and secure the game from the free throw line.

With this victory, LR snaps its four-game conference losing streak and ends a stretch of six losses in seven-straight outings.

LR dominated in bench scoring by out-producing Tusculum, 21-10. Jalen Miller and Cooper Flower each had seven points off the bench for the Bears. The Bears’ 51 percent field goal shooting was good enough for the third-best mark of the season. Their 42.9 percent from beyond the arc was the fourth-best percentage of the year.

LR had lights-out defense from behind the arc, holding Tusculum to 16.7 percent from three. That is the lowest percentage that any team has dialed up against the Bears this season. With a 82.4 percent performance from the free throw line, it marks the fourth time in the past six games that the Bears have recorded a top six single-game free-throw percentage.

Tusculum’s Connor Jordan led all scorers with 22 points. The Pioneer guard ended the day with 11-of-19 shooting and the only Tusculum player to connect on more than four field goal attempts. Tay Smith’s 20-point performance equates to his total point production in the past three games. The junior guard has now four 20+ point games on the season.

Thanks to his 15-point performance, Nas Tyson becomes the first LR player to cross the 250-point threshold on the season. With Cooper Fowler’s seven-point showing, the graduate center has now scored at least six point in three of the past four games.

Tim Steele scored the first five points of the game and ended with 12 points. That mark is the most the senior has scored since his 16-point display against Belmont Abbey on Dec. 19. Tusculum won the points in the paint battle, 38-28. Akeem Odusipe, who had most of his points in the interior, was Tusculum’s second-leading scorer with 11.

Lenoir-Rhyne now leads the all-time series, 31-21. This victory marks the first time that LR has successfully defended home court against Tusculum since Jan. 5, 2019. With the victory, LR improves to 5-6 in conference play, which ties them with Tusculum for seventh in the standings.
Thanks to another victory at home, the Bears are now 5-2 in games at Shuford Arena. LR also continues to pile onto Tusculum’s road struggles with the win. The Pioneers are 1-8 away from Greeneville, Tenn.

Lenoir-Rhyne improves to 10-9 overall, 5-6 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears will hit the road again for a battle between the Wingate Bulldogs. In their last meeting, LR defeated Wingate, 108-105, in double overtime back on Feb. 8, 2023.