After a slow start the Lee men's basketball team used defense and transition offense to pull away from the Brescia Bearcats in the second half of a 76-58 home-opening victory on Wednesday night in Walker Arena.
The undersized Bearcats went toe-to-toe with the Flames in the first half as Lee used a Beyuan Hendricks 3-pointer at the horn to take a slim 31-30 advantage into the locker room.
The second half was all Flames however as the home team used highlight reel dunks from Ryan Montgomery and Quay Kennedy to get the crowd on its feet outscoring the Brescia, 45-28.
Hendricks, a freshman guard from the Baylor School in Chattanooga, scored 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting from the field, going 3 of 4 from beyond-the-arc.
Senior Ryan Montgomery, who averaged 26 points over the first two games, also had 19 points and pulled seven rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals.
"He (Hendricks) is really good when he keeps things basic offensively. He's athletic, gets to the rim with ease and can shoot the ball. He kept us in it in the first half and is going to be an exciting player to watch grow," said head coach Bubba Smith, now in his fourth season on the sidelines for the Flames.
Kennedy gave Lee three players in double-figures with 17 points and nine rebounds.
"I think this team is really good when our backs are against the wall," admitted Smith. "At this point we need to play with that same type of intensity at the start of the game. We really got back to basics on defense in the second half and didn't settle for as many 3's while attacking the basketball more and that helped us extend the lead. I thought Ryan, Quay and Parker helped get us going defensively and that set the tone for the second half."
The Flames shot 51 percent from the field and hit nine triples in the contest to make up for just 5 of 10 shooting from the foul line. The Bearcats finished at 42.1 percent from the field and 5 of 16 from the 3-point line.
Despite struggling with his shot, senior guard Parker Suedekum dished off eight assists, committed just one turnover and scored seven points.
"Parker is a confident guy and resilient on the court. The shot wasn't falling but he finds other ways to contribute to the team," added Smith.
Big man Kayode Daboiku played all 40 minutes for Brescia and scored a game-high 20 points while pulling down seven rebounds. Tristen Murray added 16 points and canned three 3-pointers in just 15 minutes of action.
The win moves the Flames to 2-1 on the young season while Brescia falls to 0-2.
Lee will get back on the hardwood on Monday as it travels north to Bristol, Tenn. to matchup with King University. Opening tip is set for 7 p.m.