Nov. 22, 2011
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - An impressive offensive performance by the Bison was nearly undone by some lights-out 3-point shooting by Marist, but Bucknell got some big defensive stops in the final two minutes and held off the Red Foxes 74-68 on Tuesday night at the McCann Center. Mike Muscala led the Bison with 17 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, Joe Willman continued his fine play with 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting, and Bryan Cohen dished out a career-high nine assists to go with 14 points.
Bryson Johnson added 12 points and Cameron Ayers had eight for the Bison (2-2), who shot 53.2 percent from the field en route to their second straight win. Now 2-2 on the year, the Bison will take a quick break for Thanksgiving before playing three home games in three days at the TicketCity Legends Classic over the weekend.
Marist (1-4) made 11 3-pointers in 25 attempts, with eight of those bombs coming in the second half. That was nearly enough to overcome a 15-point deficit, but the Bison made some big stops down the stretch.
Adam Kemp led Marist with 16 points and six rebounds, while Isaiah Morton tacked on 14 points and Devin Price 11.
There were seven lead changes and five ties in the first 12 minutes of the opening half, and neither team led by more than two points over that span. The Bison finally made some headway at the seven-minute mark, when Cohen dropped a 3-pointer from the left corner to give them a 24-19 lead. Marist crawled back within two at 26-24 on a 3-point play by Jay Bowie, but Bucknell scored 14 of the next 16 points to grab a 40-26 lead.
Cohen was again the catalyst, hitting a jumper from just inside the arc to start the run, and later he found Bryson Johnson
on the right wing for a 3-pointer. Johnson had seven of the points in the run, as he also hit an open16-footer and a tough fall-away in the key.
Brian Fitzpatrick's reverse layup gave the Bison the 14-point lead before Bowie's put-back in the final minute made it a 40-28 game at the half.
Bucknell's hot shooting continued in the second half, but the Red Foxes stayed in the game with some red-hot 3-point shooting. Marist's first six baskets of the half were 3-pointers, and it seemed every time the Bison scored, Marist would answer with a trey.
Willman's baseline fadeaway early in the second half gave Bucknell its largest lead to that point at 46-31. But two treys each from Price and Morton helped keep Marist in it, and then Manny Thomas canned a three to make it a seven-point game at 50-43.
Willman twice restored double-digit leads with jumpers, and Cohen's 3-pointer put the Bison up 14 at 65-51 with 8:46 to play. But Thomas's 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 Marist run, and after Cohen beat the shot clock with a leaner in the lane, Thomas hit yet another bomb from deep on the right side to pull the Red Foxes within six at 67-61.
Johnson then made two critical plays in a row, first drawing a charge to negate a layup that would have made it a four-point game, and then he nailed a 3-pointer off a kick-out from Muscala to put the Bison ahead 70-61.
It was a 70-63 game after two free throws by Morton, but the Bison came up with three key defensive stands before Willman delivered the knockout blow with an elbow jumper with 1:06 left.
Bucknell finished with a 36-28 edge on the glass, led by seven rebounds from Willman, six from Muscala and five from Enoch Andoh off the bench.
The Bison committed only nine turnovers while forcing 12, and they came up with a season-high seven steals.
Bucknell is now 4-3 all-time against Marist, and this was its first win over the Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie since beating them in the championship game of the 1999 Pepsi/Marist Classic.
Bucknell is back in action on Friday against Princeton at 6 p.m. as part of the TicketCity Legends Classic. The Bison will also play Morehead State and West Alabama, with doubleheaders set for each of three straight days from Friday through Sunday.