CLEVELAND, TN ( what coach Tommy Brown described as his team's best defensive effort of the season, the Lee men's basketball team defeated Delta State University for the first time in four meetings with the Cleveland, Miss. club on Saturday afternoon in Walker Arena.

The hard-fought 70-58 victory improved the Flames' overall record to 14-12 and 9-12 in Gulf South Conference play. It was also Lee's third straight victory and assured the team a berth in the upcoming NCCAA Mid-East Region.
While praising his team's overall defensive effort, Brown singled out the defensive play of sophomore Bryce Copeland. "His play against (Devin) Schmidt won the game for us. Also, our post play inside in the second half was outstanding. We beat a really good team in Delta State today and I'm really proud of this club," noted Brown.
Delta State came out on fire and Schmidt scored his team's first 12 points before the under-16 media timeout. "He was unstoppable when we inserted Copeland," pointed out the Lee coach. "After his start, we did a good job of shutting Schmidt down until the final eight or nine minutes."
In the meantime, the Flames built a 29-24 lead at the halftime break and improved the margin to 11 points, 49-38 after Stedmon Ford nailed back-to-back 3-point buckets. Ford scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. He made 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc and was 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. "Stedmon had a great second half," added Brown. "He has had back-to-back outstanding shooting games."
Cory Billingsley added 11 points to the Lee total making 7-of-8 charity tosses. Jervon Johnson converted 3-of-5 shots from behind the arc and also posted 11 points. Every Flame (10) who entered the game posted points.  "You would have to call that a total team effort. Our guys have really been playing good basketball together of late. I just hope it continues," said Brown.
The Flames shot 43 percent from the field but crushed the hopes of the Statesmen by converting 8-of-21 treys (38 percent) and even more importantly went to the charity stripe 22 times and converted 18. Lee won the rebounding battle 28-24 but gave up 13 offensive boards to the battling Delta State club. Despite foul trouble (17 minutes), Chad Lee still managed to lead the team with seven rebounds and scored five points. "We've got to keep Chad out of foul trouble. He is not only our leading rebounder but also the team leader on the floor," commented Brown.
Schmidt finished the contest with 27 points. "When you look at his totals, you wouldn't think we did a decent job on him defensively," said Brown with a smile. "But after the start he had, I was pleased we could hold him to 27." PJ Davis came off the bench and posted a double-double, 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. The Statesmen were held to 35 percent shooting from the field and made just 5-of-16 treys. They also struggled from the free-throw line hitting 13-of-22.
The Flames will return to Walker Arena on Thursday night and will entertain Hiwassee College in a non-conference doubleheader scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
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Team Statistics

Team Statistics
Game Stats DSU LEE
FG% .345 .431
3FG% .313 .381
FT% .591 .818
RB 37 35
TO 12 14
STL 6 5

Game Stat Leaders