Bison stomp AU
Eagles drop to 5-3 in PL after loss at Bucknell
The AU Men's Basketball team suffered its first Patriot League road loss of the season Saturday afternoon, falling 67-62 at Bucknell. The loss drops the Eagles to 5-3 in the PL and 11-11 overall, seriously damaging their regular-season title hopes.
Lafayette and Lehigh are PL co-leaders at 7-1, after Lafayette dropped its first PL game at Colgate on Friday night. Bucknell moved to 5-3 in the PL and into a tie for third place with AU, two games behind the co-leaders with six left to play.
AU began the game sluggishly, and Bucknell capitalized, gaining an early lead and pushing it to 36-21 by halftime. The Eagles pressed for most of the second half and forced 18 second-half Bison turnovers (27 total) as they chiseled into Bucknell's lead.
"When (Bucknell) plays well," said AU head coach Jeff Jones, "they get off to good starts."
"The second half was much different ... we pressured, we were aggressive and active and it took them out of their halfcourt offense."
Jones added, "We still didn't play as sharp on the offensive end in the second half as we needed to when trying to come back from 15 points behind."
AU closed to 58-57 after a pair of free throws from freshman guard Linas Lekavicius with 2:05 remaining. But Bucknell, which missed six straight free throws earlier, sank 9-of-12 in the final two minutes to ensure victory.
Lekavicius was instrumental throughout AU's comeback bid, swiping six of his nine steals in the second half, and five of those came with under six minutes to play.
Lekavicius' help at the guard spot was vital, with senior guard Andres Rodriguez still recovering from a left-ankle sprain suffered the weekend prior. Rodriguez had a subpar game, scoring six points, dishing four assists and yielding four turnovers.
Other Eagles, despite some impressive numbers, played inconsistently as well. Senior forward Jernavis Draughn led the Eagles in scoring with 17 points, but was held to only two rebounds. AU's other freshman guard, Andre Ingram, scored 16 points but shot only 5-of-16 from the floor.
"It's a physical and mental toughness issue for us," Jones said. "It's been an issue all season, and something we have to rectify. If we hope to stay in the conference race, we must stay tougher."
Shooting plagued the Eagles throughout, but especially in the first half, when they made less than 31 percent of their field goals. They finished at 37 percent for the game.
"Bucknell's a good defensive team," Jones said. "They concentrated on stopping penetration, taking away the lane, and we were content to sit back and take threes. When we did get inside, we put up weak attempts."
Bison guard Kevin Bettencourt led all scorers with 20 points, while fellow Bucknell guard Charles Lee added 16 points.
AU returns home on Tuesday night to face Navy for the second time this season in what will be Navy head coach Don DeVoe's final game at AU. DeVoe, who recently announced his retirement after this season, coached Virginia Tech, Wyoming, Tennessee, Florida and Navy over a 40-year career. He is credited with taking Navy to three consecutive NCAA tournaments in the mid 90s.
For the Eagles, a win, not sentimentality, will be most important Tuesday night. In a two-game hole, Jones said his team is still in the regular-season title race.
"There's six games left, and there's still a lot that can happen," Jones said. "We want to make sure we can take care of our own business. [Navy] is an important game, and it's a dangerous game"