LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie scored a career-high 25 points to help Bucknell to its fourth straight victory, 73-68 over Richmond on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion. Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland both had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Bison, who are now 6-2 on the season.
Richmond (4-3) received 22 points from T.J. Cline and 19 from Khwan Fore, but the Spiders were hampered by 15 turnovers and 10-for-19 shooting from the free-throw line, all in the second half.
Now 3-0 at home this season, the Bison also got eight points off the bench from Matt O'Reilly and eight assists and five rebounds from point guard Stephen Brown. Bucknell shot just 40.7 percent on the night but had 10 fastbreak points and had assists on 19 of 24 field goals.
Mackenzie had the hot hand. He scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half, including a huge baseline fadeaway jumper with 51 seconds left that stretched a four-point lead back up to six. He then capped off the performance with a pair of clinching free throws with nine seconds left. Mackenzie was 9-for-15 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and he hit all three of his free throws.
Mackenzie’s previous high-water mark was a 17-point game against Shenandoah in the first game of his career last season.
“Kimbal played great tonight, and that’s one of the things we like best about our team, that a lot of different guys are capable of stepping up,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “It was Kimbal tonight, and it might be someone else the next night.”
Richmond only led for one possession, that coming at 6-4 in the opening two minutes of a fast-paced game. A layup by D.J. MacLeay with 9:02 left in the first half snapped a 17-all tie and gave the Bison the lead for good, but the outcome was in doubt all the way up to the final minute.
Bucknell went up by as many as nine on a Thomas 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in the half, but Richmond cut it to 36-30 on a deep three by Shawndre’ Jones at the buzzer with Brown flying out at him.
The Spiders went to the powerful Cline early and often in the second half, and his layup cut the margin down to three at 41-38. Mackenzie responded with a traditional 3-point play followed by a transition three from the left wing to make it a nine-point margin again.
The Bison would make only one more field goal – an O’Reilly 3-pointer – over the next five minutes, but they kept the lead thanks to a rash of misses at the free-throw line by Richmond. It was a 50-49 game with just over 11 minutes to play, when Foulland scored from the right block to ignite a 7-0 run. Brown’s sweet dish to Mackenzie for a fastbreak layup capped the surge and gave Bucknell a 57-49 lead.
Richmond was not done, however, as a trey by Julius Johnson trimmed the margin to 60-58 with 3:47 left. After Thomas made 1 of 2 at the line, Richmond’s Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Mackenzie swished a trey at the other end.
It was still just a four-point game at 66-62 when Mackenzie hit his biggest shot of the night. Near the end of the shot clock, Mackenzie dribbled to the right baseline and hit a step-back jumper over a defender. O’Reilly, who played important minutes down the stretch, pounced on a loose ball for a steal, and Brown added a free throw to make it 69-62.
The Bison tacked on an O’Reilly breakaway layup from a long inbounds pass from Thomas and the two Mackenzie charity tosses to wrap things up.
“Coming off a long road trip through three time zones, I was really proud of the way we competed against a very good Richmond team,” said Davis. “We showed tremendous toughness throughout. We are pleased to be 6-2, but we also realize that we have a long way to go in order to become the complete team that we want to be.”
Richmond was coming off a strong showing at the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, where it took No. 23 Maryland to overtime and then came back and defeated Boston College a day later. The Spiders outrebounded Bucknell 45-37 but hit just 4 of 19 from 3-point distance. They shot 40.3 percent overall.
Bucknell was 9-for-22 from the arc and 16-for-23 from the foul line. Most notably, Foulland, who came in shooting 35.7 percent from the line, hit 8 of 10. Foulland also entered the night ranked 10th nationally in field goal percentage at 71.2 percent. He was hampered by some early foul trouble and finished 3-for-7 from the field in this one.
The Bison have now beaten Richmond three straight times to even up the all-time series at 3-3. Bucknell will face another Atlantic 10 opponent on Saturday when it travels to La Salle for a 2 p.m. tip.