The Bucknell Bison punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with an 81-65 win over Lehigh and of course, a court storming at the eccentric Sojka Pavillion.
Though they were only up by one at halftime, Bucknell’s balanced attack paved the way for a powerful second half. Every Bucknell starter pitched in big-time; they were led by fiery guard Kimbal Mackenzie with 18 points. Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland followed suit, both with 17 points each, while Avi Toomer ensured that the Bison got off to a strong start with early buckets and nine rebounds.
Lehigh struggled from behind the arc, so Bucknell’s eight threes were key in overpowering the Mountain Hawks. The Hawks did get a valiant performance from center Tim Kempton, who finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their shooting woes.
At the end of the day, Bucknell’s agile core of youngsters were able to finish the Lehigh seniors. It will surely be sad to see Kempton and Austin Price go for the Mountain Hawks, but Bucknell looks to represent the Patriot League name well in the tournament and future.
As the Bison move on, be sure to watch for the 1-2 punch of Thomas and Foulland in the tourney. Not only did Thomas reach 1,000 career points today (as a junior), but he also pitched in nine rebounds and seven assists aside on top of his high-scoring game. Nana Foulland proved to be deserving of his Player of the Year award as well as the DPOY title with an all-around outstanding effort. The two of them could surely be dangerous this March.
Bucknell enters the NCAA Tournament with a 26-8 record overall, and is currently projected as a 14 seed by BracketMatrix. Lehigh dropped to 20-12 on the year, and it remains to be seen if they will participate in any postseason tournaments.