Bucknell Pulls Away from Men’s Hoops in Lewisburg
LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Lafayette men’s basketball team hung with Patriot League-leading Bucknell for the majority of the game, but a cold stretch late in the second half proved to be the difference in a 74-59 defeat on Saturday evening in Lewisburg, Pa.
Bucknell, winners of 10 straight games, proved too much for the Maroon and White, converting 17 Lafayette turnovers into 30 points on the night. The Bison move to 17-8 overall and 11-1 in Patriot League play, while Lafayette falls to 6-17 and 4-8 in conference action.
Freshman Alex Petrie put together his eighth straight double-figure scoring performance, leading the team with 19 points on the night. Junior Paulius Zalys finished one rebound shy of a double-double, adding 10 points and three assists to his nine boards, with three coming on the offensive end. Sophomore Myles Cherry was also a bright spot, scoring eight points to go along with four rebounds (three on the offensive end) and a block.
Lafayette went 22-of-53 from the floor (41.5%) and 6-of-17 from three-point range (35.3%), while Bucknell ended with a 28-for-62 mark from the field (45.2%) and 10-of-25 from long range (40.0%). The Leopards won the battle on the glass, 35-32, with each team ripping down 10 offensive rebounds.
Bucknell’s efficiency was the difference, scoring its 28 field goals on 18 assists with just seven turnovers. The Bison edged the Leopards in the paint, 34-24, and in second-chance points, 12-8, while Lafayette finished with more bench points by a 23-19 margin.
Zalys began the game strong for the Maroon and White with the team’s first six points, but a Stephen Brown floater put Bucknell on top after four minutes, 9-6. Seven straight on either side of the 12-minute mark stretched the Bison lead to eight, but an E.J. Stephens jumper from the right elbow made it 20-14 with 11:11 to play in the opening half.
A 7-2 spurt from Lafayette pulled the Leopards back within one at the 9:07 mark, but the Bison answered with eight straight of their own to stretch it back out to nine and force a Lafayette timeout at 6:56 with the lead at nine, 30-21. A good stretch from the Leopards followed as a Justin Jaworski drive along the left baseline ended with a finish at the rim to push the game under three minutes at 35-29.
A Petrie triple off a Cherry offensive board, followed by two more free throws from the rookie made it a four-point game in the final minute. Zach Thomas free-throw’s at the 45-second mark were the final points in the half as Eric Stafford was able to force a wayward shot at the buzzer from Brown, sending the game into the break with the Leopards down five, 39-34.
The Leopards started the second half on the back foot as two turnovers led to three triples on the other end with the Bison pushing their lead out to its largest at the time, 48-34. Lafayette settled in after a timeout, with Stafford and Petrie combining for a mini 5-0 spurt to cut it to nine with 15:56 left, 48-39.
That stretch sparked a good run as a Jaworski three forced a Bucknell timeout at 15:04 with the lead at just three, 48-45. The Bison responded out of that break, though, as seven straight moved the edge back to 10 at 55-45 with 11:09 left.
That run swung momentum to the home side for good as a Thomas finish through a foul with 6:05 remaining made it 64-51. Lafayette’s offense continued to struggle for the remainder of the game, not able to get in enough rhythm to salvage a comeback attempt as the clock ran out on a 74-59 defeat.
The Maroon and White return home for their next two contests, hosting Army on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Loyola the following Sunday at 12 p.m. Lafayette’s tilt with Loyola will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.