Bison in a blowout

(Originally posted: Saturday, 10:27 p.m.)

Pat Flannery wanted to make sure his team would not suffer from a letdown after its big upset of Syracuse Tuesday night. With Ivy League middle-of-the-packer Yale coming to town, the last thing the Bucknell coach wanted was for the Bison to be complacent about the threat the Bulldogs posed.

After all, in each of the past two seasons, Yale has been a tough game for the Bison. Two years ago, Yale came into Bucknell's Sojka Pavilion and snuck away with a one-point win. Last year the Bison returned the favor in New Haven, but not until after being pushed to overtime.

"We said this is a great game to gauge how much better we have gotten," said Flannery.

If Bucknell's 87-60 win tonight really is a measuring stick, then the Bison are much, much better.

The Bison jumped out to a 16-2 lead early, and save a brief stretch of about four minutes in the middle of the first half, they were dominant throughout.

During that four minute stretch, with some unusual combinations on the floor due to a combination of foul trouble the disciplinary benching of starting point guard Abe Badmus and sixth-man Donald Brown, the Bison struggled on offense and lost focus on defense. After making 7 of its first 10 shots, Bucknell went scoreless for a 4:01 stretch, during which it turned the ball over 4 times and missed both shots it took.

At the other end, a Yale team that had made just three of its first 11 shots, knocked down 5 out of 6, put together a 17-2 run and momentarily stunned the 2,950 fans in Sojka Pavilion by taking a 19-18 lead.

That, though, pretty much accounted for the Yale highlight film. Bucknell took the lead back on a Chris McNaughton jumper its next trip down the floor and never trailed. The Bison knocked down 11 of their next 14 shots while going almost 10 minutes without a turnover. At the other end, the defense picked up, too, holding Yale to one field goal the final 8:47 of the half.

At the break it was 47-32 Bucknell. An 8-1 run to start the second half built the margin to 55-33 and the Bison never led by less than 16 after that.

"We had a couple of hiccups, but I like what we did," Flannery said.

What was not to like. Except for that short first half stretch, much of which happened with at least one of Bucknell's three freshmen on the floor, the Bison dominated every phase of the game.

The Bison scored inside (Chris McNaughton 7-for-7, 15 points, Charles Lee 12 points) and they scored outside, hitting 10 three-pointers, including 4 by Kevin Bettencourt, who finished with a team-high 17 points, 3 by sophomore John Griffin and a pair by Badmus, who was 2-for-2 from the arc and finished with 12 points to give Bucknell four guys in double figures.

Bucknell shot 68 percent in the first half (19-28) and 60 percent in the second (15-25), making three quarters in a row the team has shot 60 percent or better.

"We re pretty confident. We are shooting the ball real well. We really are in a rhythm," Bettencourt said.

Credit much of that shooting show to good ball movement. The Bison seemed to always make the extra pass to find the open man, piling up 24 assists in the process, including 8 by Bettencourt and 5 by Badmus, neither of whom had a turnover. Bucknell's 87 points was its biggest output this season. Making the total particularly impressive was the way the Bison scored most of those points off half court offense.

"These guys are learning they can be really good when they concentrate and play smart and hard. We made the extra pass tonight and got a lot of easy looks . . . We are really tough to guard when we are unselfish," Flannery said.

On defense they held Yale to 16-48 from the floor (33 percent) and forced 19 turnovers.

"Our defense was outstanding other than that one stretch when we put a lot of young guys in," said Flannery.

Eric Flato led Yale with 12 points, but that showing was offset some by his 5 turnovers (0 assists). Ross Morin and Travis Pinick each added 11 off the bench for Yale.

The Bison now head on the road, traveling to Niagara Wednesday before flying to Chicago to face DePaul on Saturday, The Bison will return to Sojka Dec. 6 to host the No. 4 ranked Villanova Wildcats.
Box score

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