LEWISBURG, Pa. – Devin Cannady scored 19 points, including four critical free throws in the final 10 seconds, to help Princeton to a 72-70 victory over Bucknell on Thursday night at Sojka Pavilion. Zach Thomas posted a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but his Bison squad suffered its first home loss in five outings and fell to 8-5 on the season.
Stephen Brown finished with 16 points after swishing three 3-pointers in the final 11 seconds of the game. Nana Foulland added 10 points and Matt O'Reilly had nine off the bench for the Bison, who will now be idle for a week before starting Patriot League play on Dec. 30 at Navy.
Princeton (5-6) effectively negated Bucknell’s transition opportunities and interior offense, and it was able to stretch an eight-point halftime margin up to as many as 15 at 47-32 with 11:36 remaining in the game. But the Bison hit enough 3-pointers down the stretch to keep it interesting.
Bucknell finished 14-for-27 on 3-point attempts (9-for-12 in the second half), but only 6-for-18 on shots inside the arc. The Bison came in averaging 35 points per game in the paint, but had only six in this one.
It was still a 10-point game at 63-53 with 3:30 to go when Brown hit a step-back jumper from 15 feet. The Bison then had two empty possessions but answered a third straight stop with an O’Reilly trey that made it 63-58 with 1:21 left.
Princeton ran the shot clock all the way down and got a big bucket in the lane from Amir Bell with 0:51 left. That would be the Tigers’ final field goal, but after a missed front end of a 1-and-1 from Aaron Young, they made their final six free throws.
Princeton would need them all, as Brown hit three straight high-arcing triples, the last coming at the buzzer to make it a two-point margin.
“I thought we did a lot well tonight, but in the end Princeton made a few more plays than we did,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “There were times where we did not execute very well offensively, and Princeton teams always make you pay for that. It seemed like every time we made a mistake, they made us pay for it.”
Bucknell shot 60.0 percent in the second half after converting at a 32.0-percent clip in the first period. The Bison shot 44.4 percent overall and went 16-for-23 at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, Princeton finished at 41.8 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from the 3-point arc (8-21) and 75.0 percent from the foul line (18-24).
Steven Cook scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half for Princeton. Myles Stephens added 10 points, and Spencer Weisz tallied eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Princeton outrebounded Bucknell 36-30. The Tigers parlayed eight offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points, while Bucknell had just one second-chance point from three offensive boards.
Thomas hit four of his five 3-point attempts and recorded his third 20-point game and second double-double of the season. O’Reilly went 3-for-6 from long range while playing in front of his father, Robert, who played on two of Pete Carril’s NCAA Tournament teams at Princeton in the 1980s.
Bucknell led by as many as five at 7-2 early in the game as both teams started out cold (Bucknell 3-for-12, Princeton 3-for-11). There were seven lead changes and two ties throughout the first half before Princeton finally made some headway with a 10-0 run. Stephens’ layup capped the run and gave the Tigers a 28-19 lead.
Bucknell cut it to four on a 3-pointer by Thomas and a jump-hook by Foulland, but the Tigers scored the final four points of the half to go up 32-24.
“We have played some very good basketball, but we know that it’s all about league play,” said Davis. “We will take a few days here to spend with family over the holiday, and then we will come back focused on getting ready for Navy.”
Bucknell will visit Alumni Hall on Friday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. The Bison have captured five of the last six Patriot League regular-season titles and will set out to claim its third in a row.