The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 1, 2014

Men's basketball: Bucknell wins its sixth in a row

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense and rebounding carried the Bucknell Bison to yet another Patriot League win on Saturday.

Now they’ll see how far it takes them in the postseason.

Chris Hass led Bucknell with 15 points and Brian Fitzpatrick added 10 as the Bison ended the regular season with a 56-51 win over American University at Bender Arena.

Cory Starkey added nine points, 11 rebounds, and a key basket in the final minutes as Bucknell won its sixth straight game.

“We’re finally starting to play the way we hoped and thought we’d be playing earlier in the year, with an edge, with a defensive presence, with a toughness. So we just want to keep playing and see where it goes,” Bison coach Dave Paulsen said.

Senior Cameron Ayers, double-teamed for much of the day, saw his 22-game double-figure scoring steak come to an end as he finished with nine points, but several players, including Hass, filled the void.

“Coach told me to be aggressive,” Hass said. “With Cameron getting doubled, someone’s going to have to step up and it was just me today.”

The Bison outrebounded American 45-26 and held the Eagles to 33.9 percent shooting from the field — including 5-of-25 from three-point range — while hitting 42 percent of their shots.

“We really did a great job defensively, did a great job on the glass,” Paulsen said. “It wasn’t real pretty offensively, but these are the two best defensive teams, in my opinion, in the league, so it’s gonna be hard fought.”

The win mattered little to Bucknell (16-13, 11-7) in the standings, as its first-round Patriot League tournament game Wednesday against Army was set; but a win and a Boston University loss would have given the Eagles (17-12, 13-5) the top seed in the tournament.

Trailing by three at halftime, American took a 35-34 on Marko Vasic’s hook.

Bucknell regained the lead on a Starkey layup and stretched it to four when Hass hit a corner jumper while being fouled and converted the three-point play.

Ayers scored four straight points to make it 43-35 with 8:50 left.

After American pulled to within 43-40, Hass hit a jumper and, after an Eagles miss, grabbed his own rebound off a missed 3-pointer and drove the lane for a layup to make it 47-40.

The Eagles closed to within 51-47 on Tony Wroblicky’s basket, then to within two on Jesse Reed’s two free throws with 1:11 left.

Paulsen called timeout. When play resumed, Hass missed, but Starkey grabbed the rebound underneath and scored, putting Bucknell up 53-49 with 39 seconds left and American got no closer.

“We came up with enough key plays, I think Corey Starkey’s offensive rebound and basket at the end ... those types of things are how you win tough games in March,” Paulsen said.

Jesse Reed led American with 16 points.

The Bison hit just two of their first ten shots and trailed 12-5 midway through the first half.

Hass then scored five points in a 7-0 run that tied the score and John Azzinaro’s three gave Bucknell a 20-19 lead.

American, content to shoot jumpers, went over four minutes without scoring as the Bison built their lead to 26-19.

Bucknell led 27-24 at intermission. They shot just 40 percent from the field, but held American to 35 percent and outrebounded them 21-12.

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