* NOTE: Bucknell's allotment of general-public tickets for Wednesday's Patriot League championship game is now sold out. Should Colgate return any tickets from its allotment on Wednesday, they will be made available for sale. Check BucknellBison.com and the @Bucknell_Bison Twitter feed for further updates. *
LEWISBURG, Pa – Senior point guard Stephen Brown scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, and Bucknell advanced to the Patriot League Tournament Championship game with a resounding 90-59 win over Boston University on Sunday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. This is the 12th time the Bison (24-9) have reached the conference’s title game, and the team will attempt to win its second consecutive title and sixth overall Patriot League Tournament crown. Bucknell will host second-seeded Colgate, which defeated sixth-seeded Holy Cross 62-55 earlier in the day, on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Bucknell dominated fifth-seeded Boston University (15-16) right from the opening tap. Kimbal Mackenzie finished a layup five seconds into the game, and the Bison never let up from there. They led 15-2 after seven minutes, 46-23 at the half, and by as many as 35 in the second half.
“I thought our guys had tremendous focus the last couple days,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “We came out flying around, and I thought it was our best defensive game I’ve seen in a long time. In the first half we took them out of everything they wanted to do.”
Brown finished one point shy of his career high while shooting 9-for-14 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line. His 26 points came in just 24 minutes of action. Nana Foulland added 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and Mackenzie added 11 points. Nate Sestina played a strong 17 minutes off the bench with seven points, eight rebounds and a career-high five assists, and John Meeks hit all three of his shots for seven points.
Patriot League Player of the Year Zach Thomas finished with six points and six rebounds while playing with a protective mask after injuring his nose in the team’s quarterfinal win against Loyola on Thursday.
Bucknell shot 58.9 percent for the game, including 65.2 percent in the second half, and received eight three pointers from eight different players. The eight players making a three tied a school record. All 13 players who took the court for the Bison scored and added at least one rebound or assist.
Boston University received 14 points, five rebounds and five assists from Tyler Scanlon and 10 points apiece from Walter Whyte and Sukhmail Mathon. Leading scorer Max Mahoney was in foul trouble all night, and the Bison limited him to two points in seven minutes before he fouled out with 11:32 remaining in the game.
Mackenzie’s 3-pointer gave Bucknell a 13-2 lead at the first media timeout, and then Foulland scored in the paint to make it 15-2. Cedric Hankerson hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, followed by a Nick Havener layup to get the Terriers going a bit, but the Bison countered with a Nate Jones 3-pointer, a Brown pull-up, and a Foulland jumper from the left elbow to go up 22-7.
Brown’s acrobatic layup in transition made it 32-13. Boston University pulled within 15 on two free throws by Walter Whyte. The Terriers tried to make a push to get the deficit manageable by halftime, but instead Brown drove for a 3-point play, then pulled up for a 3-pointer in transition to ignite a 12-2 Bucknell run. Foulland’s dunk off a feed from Thomas put the Bison on top 46-21.
Bucknell’s relentless attack continued in the second half. The Bison went up by 30 for the first time at 66-36 on a Mackenzie jumper. All five starters were out of the game by the eight-minute mark, and with the reserve unit on the floor the lead expanded to 35 at 85-60 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Matt O'Reilly and Jordan Sechan.
The 31-point win was Bucknell’s largest in the postseason since a 36-point verdict (70-34) over Lafayette in the 2005 Patriot League quarterfinals.
Bucknell has reached the 24-win mark for the eighth time in school history. The Bison have won seven straight games and 17 of their last 18. They are now 14-1 at home on the season, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Boston University on Jan. 2.
Wednesday’s championship game will tip at 7:30 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion and will be televised on CBS Sports Network. This will be the first time that the Bison and Raiders have met in the final, and the first time they have met in any postseason round since 2008 when Colgate won in the semifinals in Hamilton, N.Y.
“We won’t prepare any differently than we do for every game,” said Davis. “We treat every game like the most important game of the year because it is. This one is no different.”