LEWISBURG - A half after shooting 54 percent and knocking down six 3-pointers while building a 16-point lead, Bucknell's offense was drowning during the early stages of the second half. The Bison missed their first six shots and watched as their first-half lead steadily dwindled after each misfire on the offensive end.
A timeout couldn't rescue the Bison. The drought continued and reached past five minutes and a media timeout with 14:29 remaining in the second half. Bucknell was still looking for its first offensive point and directly out of the media timeout Colgate had closed to five points. The Bison needed someone to break their offensive misery before a near flawless first half would be erased and a three-game losing streak turned to four.
Chris Hass decided to be that someone.
The sophomore drilled a 3-pointer and scored off an offensive putback on consecutive possessions in the second half and the Bison withstood one more Colgate run to defeat the Raiders, 68-57, on Sunday and avoid an 0-2 start in the Patriot League.
"To me one of the key plays of the game in the second half was when we were struggling to score, Chris had our first five points on that big three and a terrific offensive rebound," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "He played a terrific game."
Hass, who played in just 11 games as a freshman before starting 8 of 12 games this season, finished with a career-high 26 points. The 6-foot-5 guard from Michigan has scored 44 points in his last two games.
"I feel a lot more confident now than I did in like the past three games just because coach has been telling me to be more aggressive," Hass said.
Hass, who gets great lift off his jumper and finishes with a high release, made 10 of 15 shots from the floor and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
Colgate (6-7, 0-2 Patriot League) recovered from the two buckets by Hass, that ended Bucknell's second-half scoring drought, and with 3:57 remaining closed to within two points after a pair of free throws by Ethan Jacobs.
Hass delivered again, however, to make it a two-possession game with a hard drive to his left and finish over Jacobs, a 6-foot-11 center. Hass missed the ensuing free throw but Damon Sherman-Newsome failed to convert the front end of a one-and-one for the Raiders and they were never within a possession again.
Cameron Ayers, Bucknell's leading scorer, finished with 10 points but also drew praise from both Paulsen and Colgate coach Matt Langel for his leadership, communication defensively and experience on the floor. Ayers and the Bison (6-7, 1-1) held Colgate to its lowest scoring output since Dec. 7 in a 61-55 loss to Georgetown.
"I credit Cameron Ayers," Langel said. "His voice is really loud and he's a good offensive player but just what he means to their team with his experience, success and leadership was clear to me tonight. He did a lot of good things to lead his team."
While Ayers reached double figures for the 12th time in 13 games and Hass had his sixth game with 10 or more points, they also received other offensive contributions.
John Azzinaro, a freshman, came off the bench in the first half and allowed the Bison to extend to an 11-point lead after back-to-back 3-pointers. He and Dom Hoffman combined to score 18 of Bucknell's 20 bench points. Hoffman added eight rebounds.
Starting point guard Seven Kaspar had 10 rebounds and seven assists and his lone field goal gave the Bison an eight-point lead with 2:21 remaining.
Austin Tillotson, a transfer from Monmouth, led the Raiders with 15 points. Shermon-Newsome and Jacobs each had nine points and Murphy Burnatowski, Luke Roh and Matt McMullen all added eight as part of the balanced attack.
What was missing from the Colgate offense, however, was 3-point shooting. The Raiders, who entered the week second in the nation with 11.5 3-point field goals made per game and fourth in the country at 3-point percentage (43.7), struggled to a 1 for 12 effort against the Bison.
"I thought our defensive effort the entire game was phenomenal," Paulsen said. "To hold them to 1 for 12 from three was a really dedicated and concentrated effort from our guys.
"We really guarded at a high level and that is how you are going to win games in this conference."
Sherman-Newsome had the lone successful 3-point attempt and it came in the first half as a switching Bucknell defense made for some interesting matchups at times but also limited Colgate's 3-point threat.
The Bison travel to Lafayette on Wednesday for their first Patriot League road game of the season. Colgate travels to Holy Cross.
Burnatowski 3-9 2-2 8, Jacobs 3-9 3-4 9, Tillotson 4-6 7-12 15, Roh 4-7 0-0 8, Sherman-Newsome 3-6 2-3 9, Ramon 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, McMullen 4-8 0-1 8, Graham 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 14-22 57.
Fitzpatrick 2-4 2-2 6, Brackney 1-4 0-0 2, Kaspar 1-2 2-2 4, Hass 10-15 2-4 26, Ayers 3-8 3-4 10, Azzinaro 2-4 0-0 6, Hill 1-2 0-0 2, Frazier 0-2 0-0 0, Hoffman 4-8 4-5 12. Totals 24-49 13-17 68.
Halftime-Bucknell 40-24. 3-Point Goals-Colgate 1-12 (Sherman-Newsome 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Ramon 0-1, McMullen 0-1, Jacobs 0-3, Burnatowski 0-4), Bucknell 7-18 (Hass 4-8, Azzinaro 2-2, Ayers 1-4, Frazier 0-1, Brackney 0-3). Fouled Out-Azzinaro. Rebounds-Colgate 26 (Jacobs, Roh 6), Bucknell 34 (Kaspar 10). Assists-Colgate 7 (Roh, Sherman-Newsome, Tillotson 2), Bucknell 14 (Kaspar 7). Total Fouls-Colgate 19, Bucknell 21. A-3,045.