LEWISBURG, Pa. – Led by 20 points and 12 rebounds from Nana Foulland, Bucknell saw all five starters score in double figures in a fast-paced, 84-76 victory over Army West Point on Monday night at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison improved to 10-5 overall and 2-0 in the Patriot League, while the Black Knights fell to 6-8, 0-2, despite a career-high 26 points from Jordan Fox.
Zach Thomas added 19 points, freshman Avi Toomer had a career-high 11 in his second career start, and Stephen Brown and Kimbal Mackenzie chipped in 10 apiece for Bucknell, which trailed for only one possession early in the first half.
The Bison equaled their season scoring high with 84 points, but they had to ward off a number of late runs by a young Army squad that came in ranked No. 2 in the Patriot League in both scoring and 3-point percentage.
After Army took its only lead of the night at 18-17 on a Fox 3-pointer at the 12:42 mark of the first half, D.J. MacLeay bookended an 11-0 surge that gave the Bison the lead for good. Bucknell finished the half on a 9-0 spurt, keyed by a layup by Toomer and a 3-pointer by Mackenzie, to go up 41-29 at the break.
The lead ballooned to as many as 16 at 56-40 after Foulland’s free throw with 14:27 remaining, but the Black Knights answered with an 11-2 surge to get back in the game. Tommy Funk’s runner in the lane made it 58-51, but the Bison had enough answers down the stretch.
Brown had a big steal and transition layup to push the lead back to 10 at the 10-minute mark. Army climbed back within six on a couple of occasions in the final three minutes. Bucknell beat the full-court press, and Foulland made a pretty bounce pass to Thomas for a layup that made it 80-72 with 53 seconds left.
Luke Morrison hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to make it 82-76, and Matt O'Reilly and Thomas went 1-for-2 at the line to close out the scoring.
“Army is a really tough team to play,” said coach Nathan Davis, who served alongside Army first-year head coach Jimmy Allen under Don DeVoe on the Navy sideline from 1998-2002. “They are very well-coached, they are tough and disciplined, and they play well together. I thought we did a great job building the lead in the first half, and then when they made runs we had answers, which is a good sign.”
Both teams got out to fast starts. Bucknell hit its first four shots of the night, starting with consecutive treys by Mackenzie, Toomer and Thomas. The Bison were 5-for-8 from the arc while Army was 3-for-5 in the early going.
Freshman Bruce Moore connected on both of his first-half 3-point attempts, and his classmate Toomer had the best night of his young career. Making his second straight start in place of the injured Nate Jones, Toomer went 5-for-9 from the field, and he added five rebounds, three steals, and assist and no turnovers in 28 minutes of action.
Toomer’s night was highlighted by a sensational hustle play with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half. After Toomer jarred the ball loose In his own defensive end of the floor, Foulland dove to the deck to swat the ball forward to Thomas to start a 2-on-1 fastbreak. Brown’s layup rolled off the rim, but Toomer sprinted to the glass and finished the play with an acrobatic tip-in.
Toomer also had a big defensive play in the second half with the Bison protecting a seven-point lead. Bucknell turned the ball over, but Toomer hustled to steal the ball right back on a long look-ahead pass by the Black Knights.
MacLeay gave the Bison major help off the bench with five points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.
Bucknell finished at 50.8 percent shooting for the game, compared to Army’s 44.8 percent. Army was 8-for-28 from 3-point distance, while the Bison were 6-for-18. All but two of Bucknell’s 43 second-half points came in the paint (28) or at the foul line (13).
Brown added a game-high seven assists to his 10 points. Foulland had his second straight 12-rebound game, and he recorded his seventh double-double of the season.
Fox had a magnificent game for Army, finishing 8-for-13 from the field, 4-for-6 from the arc and 6-for-6 from the foul line. He also had four assists. Matt Wilson added 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
“We are pleased to be 2-0 in the league after starting out against the two service academies, who can really wear you down,” said Davis. “We really fought hard tonight and made enough of the hustle plays that don’t show up in the boxscore but are winning plays. Now we need to get off our feet and get ready for American, which plays a much different style than Army.”
The Bison will be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night to face American at 7:30 p.m.