LEWISBURG, Pa. – Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas both recorded double-doubles to lead a dominant performance for the Bucknell frontcourt, and the Bison led wire-to-wire in a 75-62 victory over Robert Morris on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 at home heading into a four-game, three-city trip as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Thomas continued his torrid start to the season, just missing the first triple-double in team history with 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Foulland was just as effective, logging a career-high 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting along with 10 rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals.
Even reserve center Nate Sestina got in on the act, hitting all five of his attempts for 10 points in just seven minutes of action. Bucknell finished with a 48-28 edge in points in the paint, and it parlayed 11 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.
For the second straight home game, the Bison were stout defensively. They limited the Colonials (0-3) to 42.1 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers, leading to a 28-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
The defense and low-post supremacy offset a 4-for-22 shooting night from 3-point distance. The Bison shot 45.9 percent overall.
“I thought it was a gutty effort tonight,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “The ball didn’t go in for us tonight like it normally does, but particularly in the second half we moved the ball around well and got some good looks around the basket.”
The Bison jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed, although Robert Morris hung around until Bucknell stretched it out in the final four minutes.
The Bison went up by as many as 17 at 61-44 on Foulland’s short jump-hook in the paint with 7:26 to go. The Colonials then went on an 11-2 run to get back within eight, and they had a chance to draw even closer but Kavon Stewart missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3:58 to play.
Thomas answered with two free throws, and Foulland scored in the lane again to make it a 67-55 game with 2:37 left. Matty McConnell hit a 3-pointer, and Billy Giles made a layup after a Bucknell turnover to make it a seven-point game at 67-60, but the Bison outscored the Colonials 8-2 the rest of the way.
Foulland tipped in a missed shot, and after another missed front end by Robert Morris, Thomas made a sweet backdoor pass to Sestina for a dunk. Kimbal Mackenzie drove baseline for a layup, and then Nate Jones finished at the rim to make it a 15-point game again at 75-60.
Bucknell led 31-23 at the half, despite shooting only 40 percent from the field. At the other end, they held Robert Morris to 30 percent shooting to go with eight turnovers.
Giles led Robert Morris with 18 points off the bench, while McConnell had 13 off the bench. The Colonials’ reserves accounted for 36 of the team’s 62 points. Bucknell held Isaiah Still to eight points on 2-for-9 shooting. Still came in averaging 20.5 points per game, including a 26-point effort in a close loss at DePaul on Sunday.
Thomas is now averaging an even 20.0 points per game on the season. He recorded his eighth career double-double, while Foulland notched his fifth career double-double. Sestina has now scored in double figures in all three games, and he is now shooting 68.4 percent on the season.
Foulland’s five blocks were one shy of his career high. Thomas equaled his personal best for rebounds and went three assists over his previous high.
Bucknell returns to action on Saturday at Butler as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The road trip will also include a game at Vanderbilt on Monday, and then two more games in Las Vegas the following Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and Friday.