LEWISBURG, PA – For the second straight game, the Army men’s basketball team battled back from a second-half deficit to take the lead, but again a late opponent run keyed by clutch three-point shooting was the Black Knights undoing in their 73-61 loss at Bucknell Saturday night.
Army was down by eight at the break, but took a two-point lead after back-to-back three-pointers by plebes Mac Hoffman and Tanner Omlid. Bucknell answered with a decisive 14-3 run that included four three-pointers to take a 64-55 lead. The Bison were 7-for-8 from the line in the closing minutes to extend their margin and score the 12-point victory.
Omlid was the only Army player in double figures with 12. Omlid also tied for for the team lead with seven rebounds. He dished out two assists, blocked one shot and made two steals. Hoffman scored a career-high nine points, his first career tallies, stroking three triples in five tries. The point guard tandem of Dylan Cox and Matt Gramling added nine and eight points, respectively. Larry Toomey also scored eight points, while Kevin Ferguson added four blocked shots to his Army season and career record totals.
Kyle Wilson, the Patriot League’s second leading scorer at more than 19 points per game during league play, was held to a career-low two points.
Cameron Ayers led the Bison with a game-high 22 points, while Brian Fitzpatrick and Chris Hass each scored 15. Fitzpatrick and Hass both snared eight boards to lead the Bison to a 42-30 rebounding edge. John Azzinaro led Bucknell with four assists.
Bucknell took a 14-11 lead during the back-and-forth opening minutes, but back-to-back baskets by Omlid and Gramling gave Army a one-point lead. The Bison scored 12 of the next 14 points to claim a 26-17 lead. The Black Knights cut their deficit to six on two occasions, but a quick 5-0 spurt gave Bucknell their largest spread of the first half at 33-22. Army trimmed the Bison lead to six on Hoffman’s first career three-pointer with less than a minute to go, but a pair of free throws made it 37-29 going into the break.
Toomey started the second half scoring with his only three-pointer, and Hoffman’s second triple capped a 10-4 run that brought the Black Kngihts within two. Bucknell scored the next four points to re-establish a six-point margin, but a 7-0 run by the Black Knights gave them a 46-45 lead. Herbeck punctuated the spurt with his only three-pointer of the night.
The lead did not last long as Hass buried a fallaway three-pointer from the left baseline as the shot clock expired on the Bison’s next trip down the floor. Ferguson rejected two shots during the possession, including one with just one second left on the shot clock that set up Hass’s triple off the inbounds play. A putback by Fitzpatrick made it a four-point game, but consecutive three-pointers by Hoffman and Omlid gave Army a 52-50 lead.
Hass tied the game with two free throws and Ayers connected on the first of four straight three-pointers by the Bison during their decisive run. Ayers also hit the final triple, bookending the run that included threes by Azzinaro and Fitzpatrick. Gramling cut Bucknell’s lead to 64-57, but Army made just one more field goal the remainder of the game. Bucknell made seven of eight free throws to push their lead to as many as 13. Wilson made one of two foul shots with 27 seconds left to set the final margin.