Bison go in search of third straight Patriot League title
Worcester, MA (Sports Network) - Seeking their third straight Patriot League Tournament title, the Bucknell Bison square off against the Holy Cross Crusaders in today's championship game from the Hart Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.
These two teams are meeting in the PL Tournament title tilt for the third straight year and in the two previous games, the Charles Lee-led Bison topped the Crusaders each time. Bucknell, which took out Navy and Army in the first two rounds of this event, has reached the championship game six times in its history and has won more than 20 games in the event. The Bison, who are a stellar 22-8 on the year, matched Holy Cross in league play this year with each going 13-1.
The Crusaders own a PL-best four tourney crowns and won three straight from 2001-03. They too have exceeded the 20-win mark in the tournament and will look to improve upon their 24-8 mark on the year. This game is being played on the Crusaders' home floor where they have gone a perfect 13-0 this year.
Bucknell, which comes into this contest riding a 14-game winning streak (a modern-day school record), owns a 25-19 lead in the all-time series, and the teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season with each winning on its home floor.
Chris McNaughton scored 23 points to lead Bucknell to its 68-47 win over Army in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament last Sunday. McNaughton dropped 10-of-13 FG attempts and grabbed six rebounds in helping the Bison reach their third straight PL Tournament title game. Donald Brown added 15 points and nine rebounds for a team that shot 53.1 percent from the field but made only 4-of-17 three-point tries and turned the ball over 19 times. The Bison played shutdown defense, limiting the Black Knights to just 33.3 percent shooting overall and taking full advantage of 18 Army giveaways. Bucknell dominated the boards, 37-21, and held the Knights to just four field goals in the second half. McNaughton and Brown are the keys to the BU attack, each netting 12 ppg and combining for nearly 13 rpg. John Griffin is also averaging double figures, checking in with 10.3 ppg.
Holy Cross slipped past American University in their semifinal-round matchup, 55-53, needing a last-second bucket from Keith Simmons to seal the deal. Tim Clifford led the Crusaders with 19 points, while Torey Thomas tallied 16 and Simmons finished with 11. Thomas had a whale of a game, collecting nine rebounds and handing out six assists as well. Holy Cross hit just 41.7 percent of its total shots, but held the Eagles to a mere 37.7 percent and claimed a 12-6 edge in points from the foul line. HC owned the paint, outscoring AU by a 32-16 margin. Simmons, who picked up Patriot League Player of the Year honors, leads the team in scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg). Thomas and Clifford are both double-digit scorers as well, netting 13.2 and 11.9 ppg, respectively, while combining for 9.6 rpg. HC is one of the top defensive teams in the nation, yielding just 57.1 ppg.
03/09 12:14:11 ET