WORCESTER, Mass. – Nana Foulland had 17 points and eight rebounds, Zach Thomas tallied 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Bucknell never trailed in a 68-49 win over Holy Cross on Sunday afternoon in the Hart Center. The Bison improved to 12-5 overall and 4-0 in the Patriot League, with three of those four conference victories coming on the road.
Kimbal Mackenzie scored in double figures for the fourth straight game with 10 points, and Nate Sestina had 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting to go with seven rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench. Sestina helped put the game away with eight points in the final 4:38, six coming on the back end of press-breakers as the Bison ran away late and avenged a loss to the Crusaders in last year’s Patriot League Tournament.
Bucknell shot 52.9 percent from the field, but defense and rebounding were significant keys to the victory. The Bison outrebounded Holy Cross 41-21 – the margin was 19-5 at halftime – and held the Crusaders to 37.5-percent shooting. Holy Cross is a strong 3-point shooting team out of the Princeton-style offense, but Bucknell limited the Crusaders to 3 3-pointers in 13 attempts.
Holy Cross’ two double-digit scorers, Malachi Alexander (14.3) and Robert Champion (13.7), were held to seven points apiece. Patrick Benzan had a nice game off the bench for the Crusaders with a team-high 15 points.
“It’s always gratifying to play well and win on the road,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “We got some shots to fall early in the game, which helped us stretch the lead out a little bit, and then we got plenty of stops and good looks in the paint in the second half.”
Bucknell held its opponent under 50 points for the first time since Dec. 31, 2014, when it defeated American 57-47.
Bucknell led by as many as 12 on two occasions in the first half and by eight at 34-26 at the half. The Bison made good headway with a 7-0 surge midway through the second period. Stephen Brown beat the shot clock with an NBA-range 3-pointer. Sestina followed with a third-chance putback, and then Foulland drove across the lane for a short jump-hook that made it 49-33.
Two more Foulland buckets stretched the lead to 18 at 53-35 with 8:53 to go. Bucknell was then successful attacking the basket against Holy Cross’ full-court press, and stretched the lead to as many as 21 on a couple of occasions late in the game. Thomas put an exclamation point on the affair with a breakaway jam with 1:41 to go.
Bucknell hit four straight 3-pointers during a five-minute stretch in the first half, the last of which was a Matt O'Reilly trey that hit the rim and top of the backboard before falling in. That gave Bucknell a 20-10 lead, and Foulland upped the margin to a dozen when he put back an air-balled three.
Holy Cross used a 9-2 run to close within five, but the Bison yielded only one field goal in the final five minutes of the half and took a 34-26 lead to the locker room. Bucknell shot 56.5 percent in the first half, including 5-for-9 from 3-point range, but were hampered by nine turnovers.
The Bison turned the ball over only five more times in the second half to finish with 14.
This is the eighth time in the 27-year history of the Patriot League that Bucknell is 4-0 in conference play. The Bison are now 5-4 on the road this season, including the 3-0 mark in the league.The Bison return home Wednesday to face Lehigh at 7 p.m.