Bucknell can’t pull off rally as it falls at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Bucknell gave No. 15 Ohio State all it could handle on Saturday afternoon, but two contested 3-pointers would not drop in the final seconds, and the Buckeyes prevailed, 73-71, before 14,241 at Value City Arena.

Kimbal Mackenzie and Avi Toomer led four Bison in double figures with 13 points, while Kaleb Wesson tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Buckeyes.

Bucknell (4-4) trailed 37-25 with four minutes left in the first half, but then over the next seven minutes surrounding halftime, the Bison outscored Ohio State 24-4 and took an eight-point lead in the early stages of the second half.

After shooting 52 percent in the first half, including nine 3-pointers in 17 attempts, Bucknell endured a 1-for-15 drought as Ohio State (9-1) climbed back into the game. Keyshaun Woods scored eight points in a 10-0 Buckeyes run to give them the lead back, and later in the half, Ohio State nudged the margin back to 11 at 69-58.

But the Bison were stout defensively in the late stages, holding Ohio State without a field goal in the final 5:30. Toomer’s slashing layup in transition ended an eight-minute field-goal drought for Bucknell, and then Bruce Moore cut the margin to six with two free throws with 59 seconds left.

Ohio State went 1-for-2 at the foul line on two occasions, and the Bison answered with a Jimmy Sotos layup and a Mackenzie three to make it 71-68. Wesson made both at the line with 29 seconds left, but Toomer followed with his third trey of the day to cut it to 73-71. Bucknell then poked the ball loose on the inbounds, and John Meeks dove on the loose ball and called timeout.

The Bison went for three and the win, but Ohio State defended it well. Moore’s off-balance attempt hit the front iron, Sotos tracked down the loose ball on the right wing, but his desperation attempt at the buzzer fell short.

“For two teams coming off long layoffs for final exams, I thought that was a very good college basketball game,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “Our guys played really hard and really well at times against a very good Big Ten team on the road.

Box score on C5