Lafayette's Monty Boykins entered Wednesday's game with Bucknell shooting 22 percent from the 3-point line this season. So when the freshman raised to shoot in front of his bench, with the shot clock winding its way to zero in the second half, the percentages were in the Bison's favor even though he'd made two of his last three.
A confident Boykins drilled the shot, however, and with 3:35 remaining Boykins and his teammates cemented the game at the foul line as the Leopards surprised the Bison, 66-58, winning at Sojka Pavilion for the first time after 15 failed attempts.
While Boykins was having a career-night with 13 points, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line, Bucknell's sharpshooters struggled. Chris Hass and Cameron Ayers, who are No. 2 and 4 in the Patriot League in 3-pointers made per game, shot 1 of 11 from beyond the arc.
"When a guy who has been struggling for them hits three 3s that were backbreakers and guys for us that have been shooting lights out were missing open 3s, sometimes that is how things roll," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said.
Add in Ben Brackney, who is sixth in the league in made 3-point field goals per game, and Ryan Frazier's three missed attempts from 3, and the Bison (10-12, 5-6 Patriot League) finished 2 of 16 from behind the 3-point line.
"I thought we did a good job of defending the 3-point line which is where obviously they have been killing teams because they shoot it so well," said 19-year Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon.
Based on their season numbers and their last meeting with Lafayette (6-16, 2-9), the struggles were unexpected. Bucknell averages seven 3-pointers per game, and it scored 96 points at Lafayette in a 10-point victory on Jan. 8.
The Leopards were without Seth Hinrichs in that first meeting. The second-team All-Patriot League selection last year missed 10 games during the middle of the season because of a left knee injury, but returned against Colgate on Jan. 27. In his third game back, Hinrichs looked like one of the league's best players last night. He finished with 18 points and added 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
"When Seth plays our confidence goes up," O'Hanlon said.
Boykins (13) and Dan Trist (14) were examples of that and came off the bench and helped the Leopards to a 31-8 advantage over the Bison in bench points. While Boykins gave Lafayette an outside threat, Trist gave his teammates an anchor in the paint. He added six rebounds and three assists.
Trist led Lafayette with seven first-half points and his final bucket before the half pulled the Leopards to within two, 26-24, after trailing by as many as nine points. He gave Lafayette its first lead after converting a 3-point play to open the second half, but a driving Ryan Hill basket gave the Bison the advantage right back. Bucknell, though, went scoreless the next five minutes and Lafayette build a seven-point lead.
The Bison trailed by 10 with under six minutes remaining but did close to six points after an Ayers' layup with 2:45 left. Lafayette never allowed the Bison any closer and won a second consecutive league game after starting the league schedule with nine straight losses.
Ayers led the Bison with 22 points, his fourth consecutive game scoring 20-plus points. Brian Fitzpatrick added 12 for the Bison, who shot 31 percent in the second half, including missing six of their first seven shots.
"Collectively we allowed missing some shots to impact our resolve," Paulsen said. "We need to be able to be a team that can win that game 58-54."
Freeland 0-1 0-0 0, Ptasinski 2-8 0-0 5, Lindner 2-5 3-4 7, Hinrichs 5-10 8-10 18, Scott 1-6 3-4 5, Trist 6-10 2-3 14, Rufer 0-3 2-2 2, Flannigan 1-2 0-0 2, Hoffman 0-0 0-0 0, Boykins 4-7 2-4 13. Totals 21-52 20-27 66.
Fitzpatrick 5-8 2-2 12, Brackney 2-3 0-0 5, Hill 1-1 0-0 2, Hass 2-13 5-6 9, Ayers 7-20 7-8 22, MacLeay 0-2 0-0 0, Singleton 0-1 0-0 0, Kaspar 2-3 1-2 5, Azzinaro 0-1 0-0 0, Frazier 0-4 1-2 1, Hoffman 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 20-58 16-20 58.
Halftime-Bucknell 26-24. 3-Point Goals-Lafayette 4-13 (Boykins 3-4, Ptasinski 1-6, Scott 0-1, Rufer 0-2), Bucknell 2-16 (Brackney 1-2, Ayers 1-6, Frazier 0-3, Hass 0-5). Fouled Out-Kaspar. Rebounds-Lafayette 37 (Hinrichs 10), Bucknell 35 (Ayers 7). Assists-Lafayette 11 (Lindner, Trist 3), Bucknell 10 (Kaspar 5). Total Fouls-Lafayette 16, Bucknell 19. A-2,419.