BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Zach Thomas recorded 36 points and 13 rebounds, giving him a school-record-tying four 30-point games on the season, but Lehigh held off Bucknell 92-89 in overtime on Monday night at Stabler Arena. The Bison saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 17-9 overall and 11-2 in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks won their third straight to improve to 11-13, 6-7.
Playing for the fourth time in the last eight days, Bucknell had a shot to win it at the end of regulation and a shot to tie it at the end of overtime, but neither fell. The Bison struggled shooting the ball for most of the night, finishing at 38 percent and 2-for-9 in overtime, but they used good free-throw shooting and their transition game to stay in it.
Thomas, the national leader in free throws made and attempted, went 14-for-15 from the line and 9-for-20 from the field. He fell two shy of his career scoring high, while recording his 12th double-double of the season. Nana Foulland also had a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards. Kimbal Mackenzie had 18 points, and Stephen Brown tallied 13 points and five assists.
Lehigh went 11-for-21 from 3-point range, none bigger than the two Lance Tejada hit in overtime. Tejada, who ranks third nationally in 3-point percentage, was 3-for-4 from the arc en route to 17 points. Pat Andree was 5-for-6 from deep and scored 24, and Jordan Cohen scored 21, including 6-for-6 from the foul line in the last 28 seconds of overtime.
“It’s always disappointing to lose a game, but it’s especially tough when we don’t execute defensively,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “Give Lehigh credit, they are a really good offensive team and have guys who can shoot it from three. But I think when we look at the film, we will see some breakdowns on our end. Throughout league play we have overcome some off shooting nights with good defensive execution. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get enough stops when we needed them tonight.”
With Bucknell playing without two strong defenders in Bruce Moore and Avi Toomer – both fouled out in regulation -- Tejada hit two tiebreaking 3-pointers in overtime, and later the Mountain Hawks went up 86-81 on a long two and then two free throws by Kahron Ross. After Thomas and Cohen swapped a pair of free throws each, a Bison miss resulted in a held ball on the rebound, giving Lehigh the ball up by five with 20 seconds left.
The Bison still had life, however, when Foulland stole the ball in the backcourt, leading to a Thomas 3-pointer. After two Cohen free throws made it 90-86, Mackenzie swished a three with nine seconds left. Cohen again went 2-for-2 at the stripe to make it a 3-point game. Brown rushed the ball up the court and pitched it back to a trailing Thomas, who got a clean release despite a defender in his face, but the shot drew front iron.
Bucknell trailed by as many as nine in the first half but rallied to take a 40-38 lead at the break. After the teams traded buckets throughout most of the second half, Thomas barely beat the shot clock from the left corner to ignite a 10-0 Bucknell run. Brown’s slashing layup gave the Bison a 69-61 lead with 6:49 to go. But Bucknell had five straight empty possessions after that, and Lehigh got back in it.
Tejada’s free throws cut it to 70-69, and after Thomas scored with a reverse layup, a drive by Cohen and two free throws by Andree gave Lehigh the lead back with 2:10 to play. Thomas answered with a jumper, but then Lehigh found Karnik cutting down the lane for a dunk with 0:59 left.
Thomas drew a foul and converted both charity tosses to give Bucknell a 76-75 lead with 35 seconds to go, but then the Bison fouled Tejada on a drive at the other end. Tejada made 1 of 2, leaving the game tied. Bucknell played for a final shot, and Brown got into the lane but his 12-foot jumper would not go, sending the Bison into overtime for the third time this season and second time in less than a week.
Bucknell did not concede a field goal in either of its OT wins over Lafayette and Army, but Lehigh went 3-for-8 from the field and 8-for-8 from the line in this one.
Seven minutes into the game Bucknell had just one field goal and trailed 15-6, but the Bison turned to their speed game later in the half. Consecutive fastbreak layups by Nate Sestina and Mackenzie capped an 8-0 run and gave them the lead back at 29-26.
Brown scored the team’s final nine points of the half, and his own personal 7-0 run put Bucknell up 40-34. Lehigh scored the final four points of the period to pull within 40-38 at the break.
Thomas, who earned his sixth Patriot League Player of the Week award earlier in the day, fell two points shy of his career high of 38 points, set earlier this season at Stony Brook. His four 30-point games ties the Bucknell single-season mark, set by Joe Steiner all the way back in 1960-61. Thomas has topped the 20-point mark 15 times, which is one shy of the school record.
Thomas also broke Patrick King’s 26-year-old school record for free-throw attempts in a season with 246. King had 244 in 1991-92. With 189 made free throws, Thomas is closing in on King’s record of 205 set that same season.
Thomas now has 1,589 career points, and he passed Kevin Bettencourt to move into sixth place on Bucknell’s career scoring list, one spot behind teammate Foulland. Foulland moved up a spot on the team’s career rebounding chart, surpassing Mike Bright for the No. 8 spot with 838.
Bucknell’s 10-game winning streak was tied for the 10th longest in the nation, and it was the 12th-longest streak in team history. The Bison also saw their road winning streak end at seven, which was one shy of the school record, set by coach Jim Valvano’s 1974-75 squad.
Bucknell now has a full week to prepare for its next game, a home contest with Colgate next Monday on CBS Sports Network.