Bucknell struggles in home defeat to Princeton
LEWISBURG Princeton’s bench began counting down the shot clock while their teammates patiently went through their cuts and milked every last second off the clock. Once the shouts reached twoone Jimmy Sherburne rose up in front of his teammates from beyond the 3-point line and buried Bucknell with the Tigers’ final of 10 3-pointers.
Sherburne’s 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer neared zero gave the Tigers a 14-point lead with 2:23 remaining and Bucknell never closed to within single digits again as the Tigers left Sojka Pavilion on Saturday night with a 66-53 victory, one that didn’t sit well with Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen.
“This was a really disappointing performance and more importantly a disappointing effort,” Paulsen said. “We had a lot of guys tonight that when they struggled to score they took a woe is me attitude and that is something I never once said about one of our teams.”
The loss was the second straight for the Bison (3-4) and their third in the last four games.
Meanwhile, the Tigers (5-1) have won five of their first six games with their lone blemish a three-point loss at Butler.
Bucknell, which led most of the first half, led just once in the second half after a Cameron Ayers basket gave the Bison a 32-30 advantage. An 8-0 Princeton run gave it a six-point lead and the Tigers maintained it with timely shooting from T.J. Bray. The senior guard hit three 3-pointers in the second half all three deflating the Bison as they tried to work their way back. Bray’s second 3-pointer of the second half put the Tigers up nine points and his final one gave Princeton a 12-point lead with 3:12 remaining.
“Timely,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said of Bray’s second-half 3-pointers. “He shoots them with confidence.”
The 3-point shot also saved the Tigers in the first half. Bucknell jumped out to an eight-point lead, but the advantage never blossomed as the Tigers hit enough shots from distance to eventually take the halftime lead. Hans Brase, a 6-foot-8 forward, hit three 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, including on back-to-back possessions to give his team a two-point lead. The Tigers hit six 3-pointers in the first half as they erased their eight-point deficit and led by three points at the break.
“Hans’ threes in the first half got us back in the game,” Henderson said.
Brase and Bray each scored 15 points and each hit three 3-pointers.
“The threes hit by Brase and Bray were just a lack of defensive focus,” Paulsen said. “Those were the ones that stuck out to me.”
The Tigers made 10 of 25 from beyond the arc, while the Bison were 1 for 11, including 0 for 7 in the second half where the Bison shot 29 percent overall.
Brase, who was perfect on his three shot attempts from beyond the arc, added seven assists and Princeton had 14 assists on 20 made shots.
Chris Hass led Bucknell with 15 points. Ayers, who shot just 4 of 15, finished with 14. Bucknell, which had four players averaging double figures this season, only had two reach double digits against the Tigers.
Twelve players saw action for the Bison as Paulsen tried to find the perfect combination of offense, defense and energy to bring the lackluster Bison back, but Bucknell scored its lowest point total of the season.
“We are going to have some uneven stretches with this group offensively,” Paulsen said. “We probably have played a little up above offensively what we have practiced and played in our first four or five games and it gave an illusion that we have arrived and we are a long ways from it.”
Since scoring 90 points in a win over Penn State on Nov. 30, the Bison haven’t reached 80 points and have scored 64 or less points in three of those five games.
“In some ways that Penn State victory may have been the worst thing that has happened to this team,” Paulsen said. “We have to make a collective decision to battle back with toughness when things aren’t always that easy.”
The Bison travel to Kent State on Wednesday. Princeton hosts Fairleigh Dickinson and travels to Rutgers before coming to Penn State on Dec. 14.
Barrett 2-7 4-6 8, Brase 6-10 0-0 15, Sherburne 3-7 0-0 7, Bray 5-10 2-3 15, Hazel 1-7 5-6 8, Koon 1-7 1-3 4, Weisz 2-3 4-5 9, Clement 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 16-23 66.
Fitzpatrick 4-6 1-2 9, Brackney 1-3 0-0 2, Kaspar 1-4 1-2 3, Hass 7-14 0-0 15, Ayers 4-15 6-6 14, Singleton 0-2 1-2 1, Azzinaro 0-3 0-0 0, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Starkey 0-0 0-0 0, Frazier 1-3 3-4 5, Oberfeld 0-0 0-0 0, Hoffman 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 20-56 12-16 53.
Halftime-Princeton 30-27. 3-Point Goals-Princeton 10-25 (Brase 3-3, Bray 3-7, Sherburne 1-2, Weisz 1-2, Koon 1-2, Hazel 1-6, Clement 0-1, Barrett 0-2), Bucknell 1-11 (Hass 1-4, Azzinaro 0-1, Fitzpatrick 0-1, Brackney 0-1, Ayers 0-2, Frazier 0-2). Fouled Out-Brase. Rebounds-Princeton 35 (Bray 9), Bucknell 36 (Hoffman 7). Assists-Princeton 14 (Brase 7), Bucknell 10 (Hoffman 3). Total Fouls-Princeton 14, Bucknell 19. A-3,011.