With sophomore Chad Lee setting the pace before a large Saturday afternoon Homecoming crowd, the Lee Flames improved to 3-0 on the year by defeating scrappy Bryan College, 68-50.
"Chad was a freshman last year and he played like a freshman," said coach Tommy Brown after his Flames defeated their third straight area rival (Tennessee Wesleyan, Temple, Bryan). "Now he is a sophomore and he's much more relaxed and understanding what it takes to be successful in the college game. He's got a lot of help on this club and that certainly doesn't hurt."
Lee hit 7-of-10 shots from the field (18 points). He also tied teammate Duran Blue for top rebounding honors (7). Overall, the Flames won the battle of the boards 39-32. While giving up far too many offensive rebounds in the win over Temple, Lee limited the Lions to only 11 offensive boards.
Chase Dunn carded 14 points in the victory. He also had a pair of assists and a steal. Dunn, who was 13-of-13 from the charity stripe in the first two games, finally missed a free-throw in the second half. Blue totaled 10 points and dished off four assists. Will Barnes added 10 points and a game-leading five assists. The Flames got steady rebounding from Patrick Shaughnessy (5), Steve Bennett (5) and Cory Billingsley (4).
Brown also praised the improved play of Billingsley, who is also a sophomore. "He's much more aggressive and is more confident in his game this year."
The Flames are blessed with depth and have a number of players contributing. Nine players saw at least 14 minutes of playing time on Saturday and Blue was the leading minutes-getter with 30. All totaled, 13 Lee players saw action.
The Flames grabbed a 37-29 lead at the half and stretched the margin to 20 points midway of the final stanza. They shot 42 percent from the field (25-of-60) but struggled from 3-point range, canning just 6-of-23. Going into the contest, Lee had shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in the opening two games. They were awarded 17 free throws and made 12.
"Committing only nine turnovers shows the experience of our team at the guard positions," noted Brown. "We've done a pretty good job of protecting the basketball in the first three wins. Good guard play is essential in our league."
Bryan battled the entire way but shot only 35 percent from the field (18-of-52). The Lions hit 7-of-21 3-point attempts (33 percent). They only attempted nine freebies and sank 7. The Lee defense forced the visitors into 18 floor mistakes. Caleb Parsons had 13 points in defeat and Rafael Tyler contributed 10.
Lee has a busy schedule next week, remaining at Walker Arena to host Virginia Intermont at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and then the biggest challenge of the season follows on Thursday when 12th-ranked Freed-Hardeman comes calling for a 7 p.m. non-conference game.