Lafayette Men's Basketball Hangs on for 71-68 win
Feb. 18, 2009
EASTON, Pa. - Freshman Ryan Willen defined `clutch' in the final seconds of Lafayette's 71-68 win over Bucknell on Wednesday night. After leading by 16 points midway through the second half, the Leopards (7-19, 3-8) held a one-point lead with two seconds remaining in the game.
Desperate to stop the clock, the Bison (6-20, 3-9) fouled Willen and sent him to the free throw line. The rookie swished both, finishing 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, and helped deliver Lafayette's first victory after an eight-game losing skid.
Patrick Behan led four Bucknell players in double digits with 20 points and added nine rebounds. Justin Castleberry scored 16 points, Bryan Cohen had 15 and Darryl Shazier rounded out the group with 10.
Lafayette took an early lead after Jeff Kari and Gruner both came up with steals on the defensive end. When Brown and Behan exchanged a pair of and-one plays, the score tied at 10 with 14:24 remaining.
A pair of Gruner free throws gave Lafayette a 19-15 lead at 9:11 in the first half, but the Bison inched back to a one point deficit. With the score now at 19-18, Brown hit a jumper to spur Lafayette on a 16-4 run.
The Leopards forced six turnovers during the six-and-a-half minute span, and freshman J.D. Pelham's bucket with 1:04 remaining capped the run, 35-22. Despite two defenders in his face, Castleberry drained a three as the buzzer sounded to send Bucknell into the locker room facing a 35-25 deficit.
The Leopards continued to enjoy a double-digit lead for much of the second half. Gruner sank two free throws with 10:30 remaining for the Leopards' largest lead, 53-37.
The Bison crept back into the game when Behan converted a three-point play, bringing the Bison within single digits, 59-50, with 7:20 remaining in the game. Nine seconds later, Brown picked up his fourth foul and was forced to sit on the bench for the next three minutes.
Castleberry's baseline three inched Bucknell to within six points of the lead but Willen came up huge with a three-point play. His free throw gave him his 18th point, a career-high, and Lafayette some breathing room with a 64-55 lead.
Bucknell attacked again with scores from Cohen and Behan, and this time it was Gruner with the big play - a three-pointer for a 67-59 advantage. The Bison refused to go away and crept to four points with 1:04 remaining with another Behan layup. Gruner responded by driving to the hoop with 25 seconds left.
Bucknell kept swinging as Castleberry drained a trey from the top of the key, 69-66 with 12 seconds left. Jared Mintz fouled Castleberry with fewer than three seconds to go, but his free throws wouldn't be enough for a win.
The Leopards head to Bethlehem, Pa., for a nationally televised matchup on ESPNU against archrival Lehigh at noon on Sunday.
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