LEWISBURG, Pa – Paced by 18 points from Zach Thomas, the Bucknell men's basketball team defeated Holy Cross 77-56 in a Saturday matinee at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell (13-8, 7-1 PL) never trailed in its 21-point victory, winning its sixth consecutive game and maintaining its place alone atop the Patriot League standings.
Point guard Stephen Brown ignited the Bison attack with an excellent all-around game. In addition to scoring 10 points, Brown stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
Thomas, who entered the day ranked first nationally in free throw attempts and second in made charity tosses, hit 9 of 11 at the line, moving him past Bill Courtney into second place in school history with 408 free throws made. Nana Foulland scored 14 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds and three blocked shots, while Avi Toomer scored 10 points off the bench in his second game back from injury.
Holy Cross (5-14, 2-6 PL) received 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds by Jacob Grandison, while Austin Butler added 13 points and six boards.
Continuing its trend of strong defense in conference play, Bucknell smothered the Crusaders right from the opening tap. The Bison conceded only five first-half field goals in 22 attempts and led 36-19 at intermission. They would lead it by as many as 29 in the second half, before Holy Cross scored 17 of its 56 points in the final seven minutes after the Bison starters got an early breather.
Bucknell led 20-14 with seven minutes left in the first half before breaking it open with a 10-0 run. Toomer hit a 3-pointer in that surge, Foulland scored twice in the paint, and Thomas had a bucket and a free throw.
The Bison limited the Crusaders to one field goal in the final 11 minutes of the opening stanza. Mackenzie’s trey with 0:31 left closed out the first-half scoring.
Bucknell led by at least 15 throughout the entire second half. Brown, Foulland and Thomas all converted traditional 3-point plays, and Toomer had a nice stretch with another 3-pointer and an acrobatic layup off a feed from Jimmy Sotos. Foulland’s lefty jump-hook from the baseline gave the Bison its largest lead at 66-37 with 8:24 to go.
No Bison played more than 27 minutes, and every reserve got extended time late in the contest. Freshman center Paul Newman hit a pair of free throws for his first career points.
Bucknell shot 44.3 percent for the game, including a 7-for-27 showing from the 3-point arc. The Bison had 15 assists and 11 turnovers, and they outrebounded Holy Cross 43-36.
The Crusaders, who were coming off a win over Army, shot 35.6 percent overall and hit 4 of 18 from the arc.
The Bison improved to 7-1 at home this season and 114-26 all-time against Patriot League opponents at Sojka Pavilion. The six-game winning streak is part of a longer stretch in which they have won 9 of 10 and 13 of 17.
Bucknell heads back on the road Wednesday to face Navy at 7 p.m.