Zach Thomas led four Bison in double figures with 16 points. Kimbal Mackenzie added 15 points and four steals, Nate Sestina had a career-high 12 points off the bench, and Nana Foulland overcame early foul trouble to finish with 10 points and eight rebounds. The Bison fell to 1-1 on the season and will return home to face Robert Morris on Wednesday.
John Collins added 19 points for Wake Forest, which started the game 7-for-9 from 3-point range and finished 13-for-26. The Demon Deacons (2-0) also had a decided edge at the free-throw line, hitting 23 of 29 compared to Bucknell’s 5 of 9. Bucknell head coach Nathan Davis had to manage major foul trouble in his frontcourt throughout the day.
“Give coach [Danny] Manning and Wake Forest a lot of credit,” said Davis afterward. “They played extremely well. They are big and physical and really clogged up the lane. We struggled to get shots early in the game, but we settled in and played pretty well offensively from there on out. But they just made a lot of shots. They made them when we made mistakes, and they made a lot of shots even when we were in good position.”
Bucknell trailed 47-33 at the half, even though it had cut a 16-point deficit down to five at one juncture. It was just a 10-point game at 59-49 after a layup by Sestina, but a 4-point play by Austin Arians ignited a backbreaking 10-0 Wake Forest run. Dinos Mitoglou followed with another trey, and Brandon Childress finished a 3-point play to give the Deamon Deacons 10 points in less than two minutes and a 69-49 lead.
Wake Forest could not miss from downtown in the early going. They were 7-for-9 from the 3-point arc and led 24-8 after Woods’ third straight triple with 11:37 left in the half. The Demon Deacons would eventually cool off a bit as the half progressed, and the Bison were able to get as close as five at 32-27 on Mackenzie’s 3-pointer.
It was a six-point game at 36-30 after freshman Bruce Moore drained a 3-pointer for his first collegiate points. But Wake Forest closed the half on an 11-3 run to go to the locker room with a 47-33 lead.
Even as Bucknell settled in defensively after Wake’s torrid start, the Bison struggled with fouls against the Demon Deacon’s massive front line. Bucknell was called for 15 fouls in the first half, 14 of them against the 4 and 5 positions. Moore and D.J. MacLeay both amassed four fouls by halftime, Sestina had three, and Foulland picked up two quick ones.
“I thought we played very hard,” said Davis. “We’re not happy with the result, but we are certainly not discouraged. There were a lot of positives to take away, and a lot of areas that we know we need to work on.”
Bucknell shot 44.8 percent for the game, including a 9-for-25 (.360) showing from 3-point range. Wake Forest shot an even 50 percent overall.
The Bison had 12 assists and only 10 turnovers, with Stephen Brown leading the way with five assists. Bryant Crawford had eight points and eight assists for Wake Forest, which is now 8-0 all-time against Bucknell.
Freshman Ben Robertson, a High Point, North Carolina native, made his Bucknell debut and grabbed two offensive rebounds in four minutes of action.
Bucknell hosts Robert Morris on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion.