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Dom Hoffman
Dom Hoffman
Courtesy: Joel Turrell
Strong Finish Propels Bucknell Men Past Loyola, 70-60
Release:   01/22/2014

NOTE: The Department of Athletics & Recreation announced today that all of the advance general public tickets for this Saturday's Bucknell-Boston University men's basketball game at Sojka Pavilion have been sold. Only Bucknell student tickets remain at this time.
In the event that any consignment tickets are returned, they will be made available for sale to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 1 p.m. from the Sojka Pavilion Box office. The 2 p.m. contest will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Cameron Ayers scored 19 points and Steven Kaspar produced eight assists and two key defensive plays down the stretch to lift Bucknell to a 70-60 victory over Loyola Maryland in a Patriot League men’s basketball contest Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 9-9 overall and 4-3 in the Patriot League, while the Greyhounds fell to 8-10, 3-4.

Ben Brackney scored 14 points, including three go-ahead free throws with 12:14 to play, and Brian Fitzpatrick chipped in 12 points to help Bucknell improve to 81-16 against Patriot League opponents at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison remain in a tie for fourth place with Holy Cross in the league standings. American took over sole possession of first place with an 86-56 rout of Boston University in a battle of conference unbeatens. Army joined Boston University at 6-1 with a victory at Colgate.

Patriot League scoring leader Dylon Cormier led Loyola with 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Jarred Jones added 13 points and six boards off the bench for the Greyhounds, who are in their first season as a member of the Patriot League.

Bucknell got out to a strong start and led by 10 points on a couple of occasions in the first half. Loyola trimmed its deficit to 31-28 at the half, and then used a 10-0 run to surge ahead 38-33 in the opening four minutes of the second period.

The Bison tied the game at 40 on a Ryan Hill 3-pointer. The Greyounds later took a 45-44 lead on a trey by Cormier, but on Bucknell’s next possession Brackney was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws. The Bison would never trail again.

Ayers hit a 3-pointer and then blocked Jones’ dunk attempt as part of an 11-4 run. Ryan Frazier’s pull-up jumper at the elbow, Fitzpatrick’s six-foot jump-hook and two more free throws by Brackney put the Bison ahead 60-51 with 4:14 to play.

Loyola scored five straight points to pull within four. The Greyhounds had a chance to get closer but Jones missed a free throw trying to finish a 3-point play with 1:54 left. Bucknell missed twice at the other end, but then Kaspar saved a sure deuce by coming from behind to swat Jones’ layup attempt. That led to a 2-on-1 break the other way, and Brackney was fouled on his layup attempt.

Brackney made 1 of 2 at the line to put Bucknell up 63-58. Kaspar came up with another huge defensive play when he stole a pass in the lane with a minute to play. Loyola was forced to foul Ayers, and he made them both as part of a 10-for-10 night at the free-throw line.

Bucknell rebounded two missed 3-pointers by the Greyhounds, leading to free throws from Dom Hoffman and Brian Fitzpatrick, and the Bison had a commanding 68-58 lead with 28 seconds to play.

“We certainly needed a win coming off the two tough road losses, and I thought this was a very good performance, especially at the defensive end against a quick, athletic Loyola team,” said head coach Dave Paulsen. “Defensively, that’s as well as we’ve played in quite a while. It was also the best we’ve done on the offensive glass in a while, and we shot 34 free throws. That’s the formula that we need. We got some good contributions off the bench, and it was gratifying to win with Chris Hass being out tonight. Some other guys stepped up when we needed them.”

Bucknell shot 43.2 percent from the floor and went 5-for-18 from 3-point range. The Bison did make 27 of 34 free throws, with Ayers becoming the first Bison to make 10 or more charity tosses without a miss since Mike Muscala went 10-for-10 against Army just over a year ago.

Defensively, the Bison blocked a season-high six shots and held the Greyhounds to 40.0 percent shooting. Loyola was 4-for-18 from 3-point distance and 8-for-16 from the foul line.

Early threes by Brackney and Frazier ignited a 14-4 run to start the game. Kaspar was the catalyst, handing out three assists, including a sweet backdoor feed to D.J. MacLeay for a layup, and hitting a jumper of his own during the run.

Brackney’s second 3-pointer of the night put the Bison up 26-16, but Loyola countered with a 12-3 run to pull within a point at 29-28. Ayers’ fadeaway jumper just before the halftime buzzer gave Bucknell a 31-28 lead at the break. Kaspar fed Fitzpatrick for a dunk to open the second-half scoring, but then Loyola surged ahead with that 10-0 run, keyed by seven straight points from Franz Rassman, his only points of the night.

Fitzpatrick finished 4-for-5 from the floor, and he is now 21-for-24 in his last five games. With his eight assists, Kaspar now has 42 in his last six games.

The Bison played without Hass, their leading scorer in Patriot League play at 15.7 points per game. Hass is day-to-day with a knee injury.

Bucknell will play the other Patriot League newcomer, Boston University, at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday at 2 p.m. The contest will air live on CBS Sports Network. 

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