“Press Virginia” was on display in Buffalo as West Virginia downed Bucknell, 86-80 on Thursday in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia’s vaunted press overwhelmed Bucknell from the start. The Bison struggled to get into comfortable offensive sets — a common trend among West Virginia’s opponents over the past few seasons. The Mountaineers turned Bucknell over eight times in the first half, leading to eight West Virginia points. Six straight from West Virginia to end the half gave the Mountaineers a nine-point lead.
Bucknell also struggled to keep West Virginia off the offensive glass. The Mountaineers ended the game with 17 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second chance points.
The Bison mounted a comeback in the second half. West Virginia went up by 12 in the opening seconds, but Bucknell chipped away and made it a three-point game on a Kimbal Mackenzie three with just over 12 minutes to play.
But Bucknell was never able to get any closer than three for the remainder of the second half. Bucknell star Nana Foulland was relegated to the bench with four fouls for a crucial stretch of the half, allowing the Mountaineers to pull away. West Virginia was led in scoring by Tarik Phillip with 16 points. Nathan Adrian finished with a double-double as well for the Mountaineers, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Foulland was a bright spot for the Bison. The Patriot League Player of the Year posted an impressive stat line of 18 points, seven rebounds, and three blocked shots. Mackenzie also finished strong for Bucknell, scoring 23 points including five three pointers.
The loss snaps a six game winning streak and ends Bucknell’s season with a record of 26-9.