MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Dec. 6, 2014) – Fans were silent for the first eight minutes, but the Milligan College men’s basketball team gave them much to be noisy about for the remainder of Saturday’s Appalachian Athletic Conference contest, defeating Bryan College 69-62 to take over first place outright in the league.
The game featured the annual “Silent Night” theme where fans remained quiet until an and-one by Julian Bailey at the 12:04 mark gave Milligan 10 points. The Buffaloes improved to an AAC-best 10-2 (5-1 AAC) and dropped Bryan to 8-2 (4-1 AAC), handing the Lions their second straight loss.
“It’s a big win obviously,” Head Coach Bill Robinson said. “The great thing about our league is that anybody can win on any given night, and that’s what makes it fun. It’s more fun having an atmosphere like this. It was a great win for our guys.”
For Milligan, it was the second game in the last five days to feature a victory over one of the first-place teams in the league as the Buffaloes also defeated Union College 70-69 Monday night on the road. Currently the top three teams in the AAC have only one loss, but Milligan is half a game up with five wins to Union’s and Bryan’s four.
Morgan McLeod led Milligan in the scoring column with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The senior was 10-for-10 from the free throw line, including six makes in the final 41 seconds of regulation that helped seal the victory. McLeod added five rebounds, three blocks, an assist and a steal.
Milligan trailed by four, 27-23, at the half but stormed out of the break with a 20-6 run highlighted by a 3-pointer from Mike Woods, Jr. four minutes in that put Milligan into the lead for good and another 3-pointer from Mickey Woods that gave the Buffs their biggest lead at 43-33 just outside of the 14-minute mark. The Woods duo combined to connect on five 3-point attempts as Milligan was 8-of-19 (42.1%) from beyond the arc.
“To be able to make free throws down the stretch is a sign of a great team,” Robinson said. “We were able to get the right guys there at the right time. It was a big win for us for sure. [Morgan] played great, Mickey played great, it’s important to have your seniors play well if you’re going to be successful.”
Woods scored 17 points with six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Woods, Jr. had nine points, four rebounds, three assists and a career high eight steals.
Bryan’s Brandon Cole, who came into Saturday’s game averaging over 33 points per game, led all scorers with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also had a game high in rebounds with 17. Robert Troino finished with 11 and connected on three 3-point attempts. The last one of those came at the five-minute mark in regulation and cut the Milligan lead to 55-52, the closest Bryan had been to a lead since early in the second half.
Milligan responded to the Troino three with the next six points, extending the advantage back out to 61-52 with two and a half minutes left. James Songster converted two free throws during that stretch. Then McLeod made a 15-foot baseline jumper, and Woods made a breakaway layup to finish the 6-0 run.
Milligan will be on the road for the rest of 2014, not returning home until Jan. 10, 2015 for an AAC doubleheader against Bluefield College. In the meantime, the Buffaloes start the upcoming road schedule with a trip to Bridgewater, Virginia, for the Don Glick Classic, hosted by Bridgewater College on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 12-13.