Bucknell tops Lehigh 78-65 behind Brown’s 23 points

Courtesy of BucknellBison.com

LEWISBURG, Pa – On the night he was honored for reaching 1,000 career points, senior point guard Stephen Brown scored a career-high-tying 23 points in leading Bucknell to a 78-65 win over Lehigh at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison (10-8, 4-1 PL) have now won three games in a row and six of their last seven, and they sit tied atop the Patriot League standings with Boston University.

Both teams struggled to score early in the contest, with Bucknell and Lehigh combining to make only 22 of their 67 combined field goal attempts in the first half. The Bison took a two-point halftime lead, 28-26, and extended it to 11 with a 10-1 run to start the second half. Highlighting the run were back-to-back dunks by Bruce Moore and Nana Foulland off of nice feeds from Jimmy Sotos and Brown, respectively. The Orange and Blue led by as many as 17 points, and the Mountain Hawks (7-9, 2-3 PL) did not get any closer than nine for the remainder of the game.

Brown, who previously scored 23 points against Maryland earlier this season, used an array of driving lay-ups and mid-range jumpers to carve up the Lehigh defense. He also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals and did not turn the ball over in 32 minutes.

Zach Thomas added 13 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Foulland added 12 points and three assists in limited action due to foul trouble. Bucknell also welcomed back All-Patriot League guard Kimbal Mackenzie, who scored eight points in 19 minutes in his return after a 10-game injury absence.

Defensively, Bucknell came up with a season-high 10 steals and forced 20 Lehigh turnovers. The Bison limited the Mountain Hawks to 41 percent shooting on the night and kept leading scorer Lance Tejada (15.6 ppg) to nine points on 3-for-9 shooting. Pat Andree went 4-for-6 from the arc and led the Mountain Hawks with 14 points. Jordan Cohen had 13 off the bench, Kahron Ross added 12 points, and Kyle Leufroy had nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

“In thought this was our best defensive effort of the season,” said head coach Nathan Davis afterward. “We really guarded with both intensity and focus. Lehigh is tough to guard because they really spread you out and put shooters all over the floor, but we did a good job limiting their open threes. Offensively I thought we missed some shots early in the game that we normally make, but we were right in the game because of the way we guarded.”

Bucknell started the game 2-for-10 from the field and trailed 9-4 six minutes in. But the Bison held Lehigh scoreless for nearly six minutes while going on a 9-0 run. A 3-pointer by Sotos capped the spurt and put the Bison on top 13-9.

There would be four lead changes and two ties over the final eight minutes of the half, and the Bison led it by a pair after Brown’s elbow jumper with 25 seconds to go. Bucknell would lead it the rest of the way thanks to the electrifying surge to start the second stanza.

Sotos got in the lane and threw a pass behind his head to Moore for a jam, and then on the next possession Brown threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Foulland for another stuff. Brown made it a 10-1 run just three minutes into the half with a pair of free throws, and the Bison had the margin out to nine at 38-27.

Andree and Ross connected on threes to keep Lehigh in it, but midway through the half the Bison managed some major separation with a quick 8-0 run. Foulland’s nice wraparound pass to a cutting Moore for a dunk, and then Mackenzie and Thomas hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 55-38 lead with 8:11 to go.

Brown put an exclamation point on his terrific night with an acrobatic layup in transition off a Sotos feed with 1:43 to go. Brown went over the 1,000-point mark in Monday’s overtime win at Lafayette, and he continued his stellar play in this one. He is averaging 20.3 points in Bucknell’s three-game winning streak.

Thomas, who had three of Bucknell’s 10 steals in this game, went over the 1,400-point mark for his career and passed Chris Hass for 12th place on Bucknell’s all-time scoring list.

Bucknell is back in action on Monday night at Colgate. The 7 p.m. game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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