DAYTON, Tenn. - Union College guard Tarik Smith (Tempe, Ariz.) scored a game-high 23 points, but it wasn’t enough, as a late comeback attempt fell just short in an 83-79 loss at Bryan (Tenn.) in Appalachian Athletic Conference action on Saturday.
With the loss, Union dropped their fourth straight game, falling to 8-12 overall on the year, 2-6 in the AAC. Bryan improved to 9-11, 5-3 in the AAC with the victory.
In the first half, the Bulldogs struggled, shooting just 27 percent from the floor, as Bryan raced out to a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes. For much of the period, Bryan held a double-digit lead, and went into the half up 14 at 33-19.
It was a different story for the Bulldogs in the second half, as they gradually began to chip away at the Bryan lead throughout the first nine minutes of the period. Finally, with 10:44 left, UC got the Bryan lead down to single point (46-45) after an Archie Adams (Aiken, S.C.) jumper, and proceeded to take their first lead of the game moments later at 48-46 after a Tarik Smith three.
UC eventually extended the lead out to four points (50-46) after another Adams jumper with nine minutes left. Bryan, however, took the lead back with six minutes left (57-53) after an 11-3 run. Union then went on a run of their own (6-0) and grabbed the lead back at 59-57 with five minutes to go after Josh Smith (Corbin, Ky.) made a pair of free throws.
For the next few minutes, the lead swung back and forth between the schools, as the game was tied three separate times. The final tie of the ballgame came with 2:36 left at 64-64, which was followed by 5-1 Bryan run that gave BC a 69-65 lead with 45 seconds left.
On UC’s next possession, Tarik Smith drained another three, cutting the BC lead down to a point at 69-68 with 28 seconds left. On the next possession, Union fouled, and Bryan sunk two free throws to increase the lead back to three points at 71-68 with 22 seconds left.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs came up empty on their next trip down the floor, and Bryan put the game away with two more made free throws with three seconds left to make it 73-68. Tarik Smith made one last free throw with a second left, but it was too late, as the Lions hung on for the four-point victory.
Overall, Tarik Smith recorded his 23 point night on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, 3-of-6 from outside the arc. Smith also made four assists and four steals. Smith led four double-digit scorers on the day for UC, as Tyler Wagner (Corbin, Ky.) scored 14 points, Adams posted 12 points, and Josh Smith chipped in with 11 points.
Bryan was led in the win by Robert Tronio, who came off the bench to lead four double-digit scorers with 17 points.
The Union men’s basketball team returns to action on Wednesday, traveling to St. Andrews (N.C.) for another AAC contest. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.