ORLANDO, Fla. — Paul Atkinson and Azar Swain scored 15 points apiece to lead hot-shooting Yale to an 81-61 win over Bucknell on Tuesday in the championship game of the Orlando Region of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Jimmy Sotos scored 14 points, and Avi Toomer and John Meeks added 11 each for the Bison, who fell to 3-5 on the season. Bucknell defeated Seattle 77-70 a day earlier in the tournament, and will now be off until Saturday after playing three games in four days.
“It was a little bit of a familiar story in that we are continuing to let bad offensive possessions compound themselves into long droughts,” Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said. “We scored three times in about 10 minutes in the first half, and against a good team like Yale that will put you behind by 20. We were getting stops early in the game, but Yale found their way out of it and we just couldn’t. I like our group, and we will keep working to get better.”
Bucknell started the game with five straight defensive stops, but only managed a 2-0 lead in that opening three minutes. Both teams got off to 2-for-8 shooting starts, and while the Bison’s offensive struggles continued throughout much of the first half, Yale heated up once it started looking inside. The Bulldogs hit eight straight shots, five of them from Atkinson, to stretch a 17-9 lead to 35-14.
Sotos connected on three first-half 3-pointers, and he fed Xander Rice in transition for Rice’s first career 3, but the Bison shot just 30 percent from the field, and trailed 43-23 at the half.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Yale used a 14-2 run to go up by as many as 29 at 59-30 with 13 minutes left.
A Toomer 3-pointer keyed an 8-0 Bison run later in the half, but the Bison could not get the deficit closer than 18.
The Bison received some strong play late in the game from freshmen Rice and Jake van der Heijden. Rice finished the game with five points and six assists, while van der Heijden hit a pair of 3-pointers for six points.
Bucknell shot 35.6 percent for the game and was 13-of-34 from 3-point range.
Yale shot 58.5 percent overall despite a 4-for-16 showing from downtown. The Bulldogs compensated with a 42-12 edge in points in the paint and a 36-21 advantage on the glass. Yale also was 15-of-17 from the free-throw line.
The Bison return home Saturday to face Princeton at 2 p.m.