Chapter 5 || A Pair of Powerhouses

After the showdown at Memorial, Lipscomb advanced to the NAIA Tournament that season as one of the top seeds. In the quarterfinals, during a blowout 120-86 victory over Pfeiffer, Hutcheson broke the all-time college basketball scoring record.

They were upset in the next round by Birmingham-Southern 98-96. It was the first of eight consecutive tournament appearances for the Bisons, none of which resulted in a championship game appearance.

“We wanted to win it,” Hutcheson said. “We were ranked number one for a lot of that year. We felt like we had a team good enough to win it, but we ran into a Birmingham Southern team in the semifinals that just played a fantastic game.”

The NAIA Tournament offers a unique experience as all 32 teams play the entirety of the 31-game, single-elimination tournament over the course of a week in a single location.

“If you love basketball, it was a great event to go to because you could sit there for like a week and just watch basketball all day long,” Hutcheson said.

The Bruins made the NAIA Tournament on four more occasions, peaking with back-to-back semifinals appearances in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.

In 1995, the Bruins were upset as one of the top-seeds by Birmingham Southern 90-80, strikingly similar to what happened to the Bisons five years earlier. The following year they were taken out as an unseeded underdog by eventual national champion Oklahoma City 97-77.

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Belmont Athletics

As the Bruins were making consecutive NAIA semifinals appearances, the Bisons had front row seats to watch Hutcheson’s all-time college basketball scoring record fall to his former roommate John Pierce.

Pierce was, like Hutcheson, a four-time NAIA All-American, but he was twice named the NAIA Player of the year, winning in 1993 and 1994.

With Hutcheson’s all-time record in sight, former Lipscomb sports information director and current associate athletic director for development Andy Lane received a call from an unexpected source on February 24, 1994.

“We were getting ready for the game against Cumberland and I answered the phone and it was Suzy Kolber from ESPN,” Lane said. “She said they were sending a truck down from Kansas City to Lipscomb’s campus to cover the game.”

With ESPN cameramen, dozens of former players, and a packed house of fans in attendance, Pierce scored only eight points in the first half.

Luckily for everyone in attendance and the psyche of the team in general, Pierce exploded for 46 points in the second half , ending the game with a program-record 54 points, to break Hutcheson’s career scoring record. He ended his career with 4,230 points. He still sits atop the all-time college basketball scoring list to this day.

The two schools made the transition to the Division I level in the late 1990s, with both teams eventually joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in the mid-2000s.

Byrd stayed on as coach of the Bruins at the DI level, but Meyer moved on from the Bisons, landing at D2 school Northern State in South Dakota.

During his time with the Wolves, Meyer had his left leg amputated after a car accident and subsequent battle with cancer. His return to coaching won him the Jimmy V award for Perseverance and was the subject of an ESPN E:60 segment.

After his passing in 2014, everyone from Mike Krzyzewski to Pat Summit commented on the influence of the legendary college basketball figure.

Byrd himself told the Tennessean that “so few have been able to do what Don did.”