LEWISBURG - Bucknell's Chris Hass had the ball at his waist in preparation to rise up with the hopes of a game-tying 3-point attempt on his fingertips. But before the 6-foot-5 sophomore could elevate the ball above his numbers, Boston's Maurice Watson Jr. cleanly swiped it away and Hass never had the opportunity to reach his release point.
Watson left Hass and the majority of the 3,790 fans at Sojka Pavilion with stunned looks on their faces as the realization of what just happened was slowly sinking in, while the Boston University guard from Philadelphia was in the final stages of laying the ball off the glass.
The game-saving play brought a stunned silence because Bucknell turned a 20-point deficit with 7:39 remaining into a possible season-defining comeback victory before running out of time in a 64-61 loss to the Terriers.
"That was a huge play and probably sealed the game for us," said Boston University coach Joe Jones, who took over the program when Pat Chambers went to Penn State. "I thought that was probably the play of the game down the stretch."
Hass did knock down a 3-point shot with 2 seconds remaining to pull the Bison to within two points, but John Papale made 1 of 2 free throws and D.J. Irving intercepted a desperation baseball pass from Ben Brackney, sending the Bison (9-10, 4-4 Patriot League) to a third loss in their past four games.
"Everyone is going to talk about our comeback which is great and it showed our guys' resilience, so on the one hand I am proud of that effort but on the other hand I'm disappointed we were in that position," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said.
The Terriers (14-7, 7-1) were playing their third game in six days, including the final two on the road that included a 30-point loss at American on Wednesday -Boston's first as a member of the Patriot League.
It all put the Bison in an uncomfortable position early as Boston built a 32-16 halftime lead.
That advantage only grew, and when an Irving jumper with 7:39 remaining gave the Terriers a 20-point cushion few would have guessed Boston would need Watson's quick hands in the game's final minute.
Bucknell, however, began matching defensive stops with offensive production. Earlier in the second half, the Bison started collecting stops on the defensive end but couldn't convert enough chances and allowed Boston to eventually gain what seemed like firm control of the game.
Cameron Ayers made 2 of 3 foul shots with 3:01 remaining to make it a 10-point game for the first time in 10 minutes and a Hass jumper after a Boston turnover made it a single-digit deficit.
Hass, who missed Wednesday's game against Loyola (Md.) because of an injured knee, wasn't 100 percent against the Terriers. But he came off the bench to score 17 points, including a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining that made it a one-point game. Papale made it a 3-point game with a pair of free throws before Watson denied Hass a chance at the game-tying 3-point shot with 11 seconds left.
Hass scored all 17 of his points in the final 7:22.
"I thought we looked a little tired, but I'm not going to blame their run on that because they did a great job of executing and they got their shooters open and those guys made some unbelievable shots down the stretch to bring them back," Jones said.
Cameron Ayers scored in double figures for the 13th consecutive game and led the Bison with 23 points. He made 12 of 14 shots from the foul line. Brian Fitzpatrick reached double figures for a third consecutive game and collected his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"It was a mix bag for us," said Paulsen, who watched his team turn the ball over 13 times. "There was certainly some good to build on, but a lot more mental errors and execution errors than what I was expecting."
Boston's Philadelphia collection of Watson, Irving and Travis Robinson scored 32 of the Terriers' 64 points.
Papale added 12 points and Dom Morris, a stocky 6-7, 240-pound forward, added 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
The Bison, who lost just five Patriot League games combined over the past three seasons, will look to avoid a fifth league loss this year alone at Lehigh on Wednesday.
"We are kind of a two-step forward, one-step back operation," Paulsen said. "We just need to make sure at the end of the week it's two forward and one back and not the other way."
BOSTON U. (14-7)
Morris 5-12 2-6 12, Dieudonne 0-2 0-0 0, Watson Jr. 4-10 4-6 12, Papale 3-8 5-6 12, Irving 4-12 0-0 10, Hankerson 1-4 1-2 4, Robinson 3-6 1-2 10, Thomas 1-4 0-0 2, Alston 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-59 13-22 64.
Fitzpatrick 5-6 0-0 10, Brackney 2-8 0-0 5, Kaspar 2-6 0-4 4, Frazier 0-3 0-0 0, Ayers 4-13 12-14 23, MacLeay 0-1 0-0 0, Singleton 0-2 0-2 0, Azzinaro 0-5 0-0 0, Hill 1-4 0-0 2, Hass 5-9 3-3 17, Hoffman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-57 15-23 61.
Halftime-Boston U. 32-16. 3-Point Goals-Boston U. 7-21 (Robinson 3-5, Irving 2-5, Hankerson 1-2, Papale 1-3, Thomas 0-1, Morris 0-1, Watson Jr. 0-2, Dieudonne 0-2), Bucknell 8-23 (Hass 4-6, Ayers 3-7, Brackney 1-4, Frazier 0-1, Singleton 0-1, Azzinaro 0-4). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Boston U. 43 (Morris 9), Bucknell 40 (Fitzpatrick 11). Assists-Boston U. 12 (Watson Jr. 5), Bucknell 11 (Hill 5). Total Fouls-Boston U. 16, Bucknell 19. Technical-Morris. A-3,790.