LEWISBURG, Pa – Zach Thomas scored 17 points, Nana Foulland registered another double-double, and seniors John Azzinaro and D.J. MacLeay provided a big lift off the bench to help Bucknell earn its 20th win of the season, 75-58 over Colgate on Monday night.
With the victory, the Bison improved to 20-7 overall and 12-2 in the Patriot League, and they guaranteed themselves at least a top-four seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament. That means a quarterfinal game will be played at Sojka Pavilion on March 2. With four games remaining in the regular season, Bucknell now has a two-game lead over Boston University and Navy, a four-game lead on fourth-place Lehigh, and an insurmountable five-game lead on fifth place co-holders Colgate, Holy Cross and Loyola.
Bucknell was strong in all phases against Colgate. Offensively, the Bison shot well over 50 percent for most of the night before settling at 49.1 percent after finishing the game with six straight misses once the outcome was well decided. Bucknell had 17 assists with only 11 turnovers and shot 7-for-19 from the arc and 16-for-20 from the foul line.
Defensively, Bucknell had as many steals (11) as their own turnovers. The Bison forced 17 Raiders miscues and limited Colgate to 41.7 percent shooting and just five offensive rebounds.
Thomas saw his run of three straight 20-point games come to an end, but he led all scorers with 17 to go with three assists and a career-high four steals. Foulland recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Brown missed only one shot all night (5-6 FG, 3-4 3FG, 2-2 FT) and totaled 15 points and seven assists.
After the Bison got out to a slow start, MacLeay and Azzinaro came off the bench to give the team a spark. Azzinaro went 5-for-7 from the field and scored 12 points in 17 minutes, while MacLeay tallied five points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 14 minutes.
The Bison were down 9-4 after a 1-for-6 start, but MacLeay converted a layup and a 3-pointer, and he fed Azzinaro for another trey as part of a 12-0 run that surged the Bison in front 16-9. They would never trail again.
The lead was still just 19-16 at the nine-minute mark, when Azzinaro capped an 8-0 run by hitting a long two followed by a steal and breakaway layup, pushing the margin into double figures for the first time.
“We’ve been saying all year, we have 12 guys on this team who can play,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “Our depth has been very good, and it’s great to have different guys step up each night. John and D.J. are two of the leaders on this team, and tonight they showed why.”
Colgate cut a 37-29 halftime deficit as close as six at 39-33 after a pair of Jordan Swopshire free throws. But then Thomas drove hard to the basket to ignite a 9-0 Bison surge. Foulland’s hustle steal lead to two Kimbal Mackenzie free throws. Thomas hit a 3-pointer, and then Foulland scored from the baseline to make it a 48-33 game with 16:18 to play.
By the time Avi Toomer finished a fastbreak layup off an Azzinaro assist, the lead had ballooned to 22 at 65-43.
Colgate (9-18, 7-7 PL) had three players in double figures, led by freshman Will Rayman's 15 points. Swopshire tallied 13 points and seven rebounds.
This is now the 13th 20-win season in Bucknell history, and the fourth in the last seven years. It was a nice response to last week’s loss at Lehigh, and the Bison still have not dropped back-to-back games all season.
“I thought our concentration was much better tonight,” said Davis. “I thought we did a better job guarding the ball and a better job guarding ball screens. And then offensively the ball moved much better tonight. When we do those things we can be hard to beat.”
Bucknell will now have a quick turnaround before facing Loyola in Baltimore on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.