BUCKNELL AUTHORS FIRST-ROUND UPSET OVER KANSAS, 64-63, FOR FIRST NCAA TOURNAMENT VICTORY IN SCHOOL AND PATRIOT LEAGUE HISTORY!
March 19, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Chris McNaughton's jump-hook in the lane with 10.5 seconds remaining lifted 14th-seeded Bucknell to the biggest victory in its 110-year history, a 64-63 thriller over third-seeded Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night before 18,567 at the Ford Center. Not only was it the first NCAA victory in three trips for the Bison, but it was the first-ever tourney win for a team from the Patriot League, which is in its 15th season.
Bucknell (23-9), which snapped Kansas' streak of 21 consecutive first-round victories, will face sixth-seeded Wisconsin in the second round on Sunday at approximately 4:50 p.m. (Eastern). The Badgers defeated Northern Iowa 57-52 earlier on Friday.
Fans who purchased tickets through the Bucknell ticket office may renew those tickets for Sunday's game from 4-6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Northwest in Oklahoma City.
"This was a great college game, and to coach in it was an honor," said Bison head coach Pat Flannery. "I am so proud of these kids. We battled all night and made Kansas work for everything they got. We really competed, every time it looked like they were going to stretch their lead we responded."
The Bison trio of Kevin Bettencourt (19), Charles Lee (15) and McNaughton (14) accounted for 48 of the team's 64 points against the Jayhawks (23-7), who entered the game ranked 12th in the Associated Press Poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Bucknell also defeated then No. 7/10 Pittsburgh on Jan. 2 and is now 2-1 against ranked teams this season.
Bucknell became the first No. 14 seed to win a tournament game since Weber State defeated North Carolina in 1999. The Bison are the 14th No. 14 seed to win a first-round contest.
While Bucknell was playing its third NCAA Tournament game, and its first since 1989, Kansas was in its 107th tourney contest, fourth-most in NCAA history. The Jayhawks' senior class had appeared in two Final Fours and an Elite Eight in the last three years.
The Bison seemed to have the game in hand when Abe Badmus hit two free throws with 1:22 to play for a 62-57 lead. Michael Lee was fouled on an offensive rebound to make it 62-59, then Bucknell, which committed only nine turnovers all night, committed what might have been a costly error when Lee mishandled a pass near midcourt, then intentionally fouled Lee with 53.7 seconds left.
Lee made two more from the stripe, then Badmus fouled out hand-checking a driving Keith Langford with 25.4 ticks left. Langford made both charity tosses, and stunningly Kansas had a 63-62 lead.
The Bison elected not to use a timeout and went into the post to McNaughton. The sophomore, who was 7-for-8 from the floor in the Patriot League championship game win over Holy Cross and 6-for-7 against Kansas, spun to his left into the paint and banked in a seven-foot jump hook with 10.5 seconds left.
"We wanted to go inside," said McNaughton. "I caught the ball in the low post and somehow I had to get it in. I don't know how it went in, but it just did and that's all we needed."
Langford missed a contested jumper and the freshman Griffin scrapped for the loose ball and was fouled with 3.5 seconds left. Griffin missed the front end of the one-and-one, however, and Kansas called timeout with 2.4 seconds left.
In a play very reminiscent of the famous Christian Laettner play that propelled Duke to a 1992 tournament win over Kentucky, Simien caught a long baseball pass just inside the free-throw line, but his turnaround jumper was off the mark as time expired, triggering a wild celebration on the Bison sideline.
"Once [Simien's] shot bounced off the rim, it was just so exciting," said Bettencourt. "To see how hard we had to work to get to this point, we would not have been satisfied just to be here, we wanted to win. It was unbelievable."
Kansas jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in this one, but Bettencourt's four-point play from the left wing put Bucknell on the board, and the game quickly turned into a classic. Trailing 9-6, Bettencourt and Lee canned back-to-back treys, and the Bison would lead for the next 13 minutes.
A highlight-reel behind the back bounce pass from John Griffin to Donald Brown for a fastbreak dunk made it 18-12 and later Bettencourt was fouled shooting a three for the second time and made all three free throws for a stunning 22-14 lead with 9:34 left in the half.
McNaughton picked up two early fouls but came back in the late stages of the half to score a pair of baskets, the last on a pretty baseline spin move for a reverse layup. Brown's short baseline jumper made it 28-21 at the 4:33 mark, but the Bison went ice cold and Kansas outscored them 10-0 over the last 4:06 to take a 31-28 halftime lead.
Wayne Simien, who led all players with 24 points and 10 rebounds, opened the second-half scoring to make it 33-28, but Bettencourt hit a baseline trey to ignite an 11-4 Bison run and give Bucknell the lead back at 39-37.
Five lead changes and four ties ensued over the next 11 minutes. With the score knotted at 50, Lee canned a 3-pointer at the 5:28 mark, and Chris Niesz drained another from the right corner nearly three minutes later to make it 58-54.
Lee's floater in the lane made it 60-56 with 1:59 left, then Simien made 1 of 2 from the stripe 18 seconds later to make it a 3-point game. Badmus was fouled driving hard to the hoop and converted both free throws for the 62-57 lead, setting up the wild finish.
Bucknell's defense, which just allowed 34, 35 and 57 points in the three Patriot League Tournament wins, was stellar again against Kansas. The Bison had 10 steals, forced 13 turnovers and held the Jayhawks to only eight second-half field goals. In fact, Kansas made its last field goal with 8:44 to play in the game, although it made 15 of 16 from the line over that stretch. Bucknell also held Kansas to 1-for-11 shooting from 3-point range.
Badmus's two late free throws were his only points of the game, but he was terrific in every other area. The sophomore point guard finished with a career-high 11 assists without a single turnover in 34 minutes. Defensively he held Aaron Miles, who came in averaging over seven assists per game, to only four helpers and 0-for-5 shooting from the floor.
Bucknell reached 23 victories for just the fourth time in school history and defeated a Big 12 team for the first time ever.
Bettencourt hit five three-pointers and is now the Bucknell single-season record-holder with 77. Lee added a team-high eight rebounds for the Bison, who were 3-for-19 from 3-point range in the first half but 5-for-12 in the second. Bucknell shot an even 40 percent in the game, while Kansas shot 43.5 percent.
Sunday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between Bucknell and Wisconsin.