LEWISBURG, Pa. – Junior forward Zach Thomas led Bucknell with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Bison shot a blistering 72.0 percent in the first half on their way to a 76-63 victory over Loyola Maryland on Wednesday evening at Sojka Pavilion. Four Bucknell starters reached double figures in scoring, and junior center Nana Foulland scored his 1,000th career point late in the first half.
Bucknell (14-6, 6-1 PL) was 28-for-52 (.538) from the floor in the game, including 18 of 25 in the opening stanza. The Bison led 46-26 at halftime, and then cruised home from there.
Thanks to Colgate’s victory over Boston University (5-2), Bucknell is now in sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. Third-place Lehigh also fell at Navy, creating a three-way tie for third place among Lehigh, Navy and Holy Cross at 4-3. Bucknell and Boston University will meet at Sojka Pavilion this Saturday.
Loyola (9-9, 3-4 PL) was led by 12 points from KaVaughn Scott off the bench. The Greyhounds were coming off an eight-point home win over Boston University just two nights earlier behind a career-high 35 points from point guard Andre Walker, but they could not sustain that pace in this one. Loyola’s two leading scorers – Walker and Jarred Jones – were both held scoreless in the first half before finishing with six and two points, respectively.
“It was good to get out to a big lead early in the game, because we know Loyola is a very good team,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “We came out with great focus and energy. I thought we really shared the ball well and made simple plays. We have a lot of guys who can score, and we are at our best when we are moving the ball around with purpose.”
Loyola’s Cam Gregory scored the opening basket of the game just 27 seconds in, and that would be the Greyhounds’ only lead of the night. It was tied at 2-2 and 7-7, and then Bucknell made its move around the 13-minute mark.
Mackenzie’s layup ignited a 19-5 run, and the Bison outscored Loyola 30-12 over the final 10:33 of the half. Brown bookended an 11-0 spurt with a pair of 3-pointers, including a beautiful step-back trey from the top of the key that put Bucknell ahead 27-14.
By the time Toomer stole a pass and went in for an uncontested jam, Bucknell’s advantage had ballooned to 19 at 39-21.
Foulland’s milestone came with 1:05 left in the half. His short jump-hook off the window made it 46-24, and made him the 40th 1,000-point scorer in Bucknell history. He is now the 19th player in school history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, and he is the 21st Bison to reach the 1,000-point mark in his third varsity season.
A pair of steals and breakaway buckets by freshman Ben Robertson -- the second of which he punctuated with a reverse flush – highlighted a second-half surge that bumped the margin all the way up to 28 points at 69-41. It was Bucknell’s largest lead at any point this season.
The game became a bit disjointed over the final eight minutes -- Bucknell had only two field goals in that span – but the outcome was never in doubt.
Thomas enjoyed his best all-around game of the conference season, scoring his 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 2-for-2 from long distance. He notched his third double-double of the season and 10th of his career, while adding three assists and just one turnover in 28 minutes.
Brown hit three of his four 3-point attempts, making him 6-for-9 in his last two games. His seven assists give him 305 in his career. He is six assists shy of catching Dan Blankenship for the No. 10 spot on Bucknell’s all-time list.
Bucknell will be back in action on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Boston University. The Bison will celebrate the annual Dirk Sojka’s Slam Dunk with Bison Basketball. There will be a raffle and silent auction, with proceeds benefitting Suncom Industries.