By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- After last weekend's nonleague loss to Princeton, Bucknell University men's basketball coach Dave Paulsen had two major concerns: the Bison carrying their offensive struggles to the defensive end, and their inability to get scores late in games to close out victories.
Bucknell showed its coach it learned its lesson Saturday night against a Columbia team that had pushed No. 1 Michigan State to the brink two weeks ago in the Breslin Center.
Chris Hass and Ryan Hill came up with the big plays down the stretch and, despite shooting less than 40 percent from the floor, the Bison held the Lions 13 points under their season average as Bucknell turned away Columbia, 57-52, at Sojka Pavilion.
"Some people might have thought that was an ugly game, but I thought it was a beautiful game. A week ago we struggled offensively and we couldn't find ways to manufacture those winning plays," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "Tonight, we did. We shot 20 foul shots in the second half, which you have to do if your shots aren't falling, and our effort never wavered on the defensive end."
Bucknell improves to 5-4 on the season and will take a 13-day finals break, not playing again until travelling to Marist on Dec. 20. Bucknell won't be back at Sojka until a game with Fairfield on Dec. 28.
Saturday night's game was a defensive struggle between the two teams. Columbia led 50-48 with 3:07 left in the game before Hass went to the foul line on back-to-back possessions. The junior guard, who had shot just one foul shot all season, hit all four to give Bucknell a 52-50 lead with 1:17 left in the game.
Columbia missed a 3-pointer on its next possession. Bucknell opted to run most of the shot clock down when Hill drove to the bucket, made the basket and was fouled. He missed the foul shot, but the Bison led 54-50.