PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – B.J. Johnson scored 22 points and Jordan Price added 20 for La Salle, which used a big second half to turn back Bucknell 83-73 on Saturday afternoon at Tom Gola Arena. The Bison led by two at halftime, but saw their four-game winning streak come to an end despite a career-high 15 points from Nate Jones and 15 points, six assists and three steals from Stephen Brown.
Bucknell had a 44-42 lead at the end of an up-and-down first half, but the Explorers ratcheted up their defense to start the second half took over the game. They netted the first six points to take the lead before the Bison scored their first points of the half on a Nate Sestina layup 3:41 in.
That ignited an 18-4 run over the first seven minutes of the period that flipped La Salle’s two-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead, and the Explorers led by double digits the rest of the way.
Bucknell went 8-for-14 from 3-point range – with Jones hitting four of them – in a wild first half. After a slow start, the Bison mustered a pair of 7-0 runs, with Jones treys coming right in the middle of both. His deep jumper at the 10:34 mark gave the Bison a 17-15 lead, and they would never trail over the remainder of the half.
The play of the half came with the Bison nursing a 32-31 lead around the 3:30 mark. A turnover resulted in a 2-on-1 break for La Salle, but Brown went airborne to smother a lob pass, then fed Thomas for a breakaway jam the other way.
The game was tied three times in the final 3:08 of the half, the last at 42-42 after a Johnson tip-in for the Explorers. Brown drove the lane, hung in the air for a moment and got his floater to go off the glass to give Bucknell the two-point advantage at the break.
Bucknell shot 58.6 percent in the first half but only 39.1 percent in the second. After making those eight 3-pointers in the first half, the Bison were 0-for-7 in the second to finish 8-for-21 on the day. Despite the second-half struggles, Bucknell still shot an even 50 percent (26-52) for the game.
Meanwhile, La Salle shot 55.2 percent in the second half after converting at a 46.4 percent clip in the second. The Explorers finished with a 33-26 rebounding edge and finished with 15 turnovers compared to Bucknell’s 17.
The Bison finish up the first semester with another road tilt Tuesday night at Fairfield. The game will be televised in the New York market on SNY, and it will stream on ESPN3. Bucknell will then have an 11-day break for final exams.