The second game of the day at the Lewisburg Subregional pitted host Bucknell against the Tigers of West Alabama, out of the Division Two Gulf South Conference. It amazed me that the people at the Ticket City Legends Classic were unable to find a fourth Division One team willing to spend their Thanksgiving weekend in rural Pennsylvania. However, their efforts must have been unsuccessful, and the Tigers made the trip to take on the other three mid-majors.
The defending Patriot League champion Bison are responsible for the Patriot League's only two NCAA Tournament victories. In 2005, the Bison upset Kansas in the first round of the tournament. While they lost in the next round, they were rewarded with an ESPY by ESPN for the "Best Upset," an award that is on display in Sojka Pavilion. The next year, they repeated the feat, beating Arkansas in the first round. These two wins are the only two the Patriot League has since its inception in 1991.
This year, the Bison are once again favorites to win the Patriot League title. They went into the game at 3-2 on the year, having won three straight after losing their first two games at Minnesota and Vanderbilt.
The game was a blowout from the get go. For a reason I am not sure of, West Alabama coach Mike Newell sat two of his usual starters. While the came into the game in the last ten minutes, their presence was surely missed for the visitors. Junior Bryson Johnson hit four three-pointers in the early stages of the game, giving the Bison an early fifteen point lead. From there it was game, set, match, as the Bison cruised to an easy 87-50 victory. Johnson had nine three-pointers on the afternoon, finishing with 27 points. As a team, the Bison hit 17 three pointers, a new school record. The Bison had a total of four players in double-digits. In addition to Johnson, Cameron Ayers scored 20 and Steven Kaspar contributed seven assists for the Bison. All 14 players on the Bucknell roster got to play in the blowout. Despite the loss, Phillip Morris scored 11 for the Tigers.
The crowd of 2,185 went home happy after another Bison victory. The Bison next play Morehead State to crown the unofficial champion of the subregional, as both teams are 2-0 thus far. West Alabama plays Princeton next, and both teams will be looking for their first win in Lewisburg.
at BUCKNELL 87, WEST ALABAMA 50 11/26/2011
BUCKNELL 4-2 (0-0) -- C. Ayers 7-10 2-2 20; B. Johnson 9-15 0-0 27; B. Cohen 0-3 0-0 0; J. Willman 5-8 0-0 10; M. Muscala 1-4 3-4 5; R. Hill 0-1 0-0 0; J. Singleton 1-4 1-2 3; C. Starkey 1-2 0-0 2; S. Kaspar 0-2 1-2 1; B. Brackney 4-6 0-0 12; B. Fitzpatrick 1-3 2-4 4; C. Klebon 1-1 1-1 3; E. Andoh 0-0 0-0 0; P. Leo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-59 10-15 87.
Three-point goals: - , BUCK 17-34 (B. Cohen 0-3; B. Johnson 9-15; C. Ayers 4-5; B. Brackney 4-6; S. Kaspar 0-2; J. Singleton 0-3); Rebounds: , BUCK 41 (B. Cohen 6); Assists: , BUCK 23 (S. Kaspar 7); Total Fouls -- , BUCK 15; Fouled Out: -; BUCK-None.