March 10, 2006
Lewisburg, Pa. - No. 1 Bucknell broke open a four-point contest at halftime en route to a 74-59 win over No. 2 Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion for the 2006 Patriot League Men's Basketball title. Bison senior Charles Lee became the first player in Patriot League history to earn back-to-back Tournament MVP awards after scoring 16 points. Lee was one of four Bison in double figures.
Kevin Bettencourt led all scorers with 23 points on a game-high six triples. Donald Brown and Chris McNaughton also chipped with 14 points. Bettencourt and McNaughton joined Lee on the All-Tournament Team.
For Holy Cross, Kevin Hamilton led the Crusaders with 20 points. He and teammate Keith Simmons rounded out the All-Tournament squad. Simmons added 19 points and Tim Clifford posted 10 for Holy Cross.
Sojka was electric before tip-off as the Bucknell student sections were on their feet two hours and 15 minutes prior to the start of the contest. The first half was frenzied with neither team really taking charge. The Bison held the largest lead, six points, 27-21, with 9:08 to play, but the Crusaders continued to come back.
It took a Bettencourt triple as time expired to give Bucknell a 42-38 halftime lead, and the momentum. Coming out the intermission, the Bison just ran away, going on a 15-4 run. When the smoke cleared at the 9:33 mark of the second, Bucknell was in control of the game.
Holy Cross did not give up, and clawed back to within 11 points (64-53) with 5:21 to play on a Kyle Cruze three-point play. But that would be it for the Crusaders, which fell to 20-12 on the season and will now look to Selection Sunday to see if they can return to the NIT for the second-straight season.
Bucknell, which improved to 26-4 overall, became the first team in Patriot League history to go undefeated in the regular season, and topped off that 14-0 run with three-straight wins in the League Tournament.
The Bison will return to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season. Last year, they became the first Patriot League team to win a game in the big dance, upsetting No. 3 Kansas in the first round. Bucknell has received votes in every AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this season and earned the Patriot League's first-ever Top 25 ranking on Feb. 13 when it entered both polls at No. 25.
Bucknell becomes the first Patriot League team to repeat since Holy Cross turned the feat in 2001-02 and 2002-03. All-time, Bucknell becomes the sixth team to repeat as Patriot League Champs.
Lee earned All-Tournament honors for the second-straight season, and became the seventh player in Patriot League history to win both the Player of the Year and Tournament MVP in the same season.