Navy Falls to Bucknell in Tournament Semifinal, 70-65
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell sophomore Kimbal Mackenzie drilled a corner 3-pointer in a one-point game with 40 seconds left to send the top-seeded Bison (25-8) past fourth-seeded Navy (16-16), 70-65, in a Patriot League Tournament Semifinal contest on Sunday afternoon in Sojka Pavilion.
Navy junior guard Shawn Anderson scored a driving layup to cut Bucknell’s lead to 66-65 with 1:05 left before Nana Foulland fed Mackenzie in the left corner for his critical 3-pointer. Navy turned the ball over on the other end and then sent Zach Thomas to the free throw line, who made one-of-two foul shots. Navy, trailing by five points, missed three 3-point attempts in the closing seconds as Bucknell clinched its 11th appearance in the Patriot League Championship game.
“It was a great basketball game,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. “Both teams played well. It went back-and-forth. I’m proud of our guys and hats off to Bucknell. Our kids fought hard, we played really hard and we competed. Sometimes it comes down to one team making a play and Kimbal Mackenzie made a big shot.”
Bucknell raced out to a 9-0 lead to open the game and the hosts pulled ahead by 11 points at 13-2 after a Foulland jumper. The Mids then began to chip away at the lead by making six straight free throws and getting two buckets from Anderson. The Mids put together a 10-2 run and a layup by freshman center Evan Wieck cut Bucknell’s lead to just 19-16.
“We didn’t start out very well,” said DeChellis. “But we shook that bad start off and got our legs back. We played pretty well the rest of the game.”
Navy junior Tom Lacey scored on a third-chance layup and senior guard Tim Abruzzo followed with a fastbreak dunk. A free throw by junior guard Nourse Fox evened the game at 21-21 with 4:40 left in the first half.
“We remained calm, we stayed together and we stuck to the coaches’ game plan,” said Anderson. “They made a great run to start the game, but you have to keep battling. Basketball is a game of ups and downs and today we kept fighting and eventually got ourselves back in the game.”
The Mids kept the momentum and reeled off a quick 6-1 run as sophomore point guard Hasan Abdullah scored on a layup and Anderson scored back-to-back layups for the Mids. Junior guard Bryce Dulin connected on a 3-pointer and after two free throws by Bucknell’s Bruce Moore, Anderson scored on a baseline inbounds play at the end of the period to give the Mids a 32-31 halftime lead.
Bucknell scored the first seven points of the second half and would later go up five points when Navy errantly tipped in a basket on its own defensive end. Thomas and Foulland started to heat up for the Bison and Nate Sestina’s free throw at the 11:30-mark put Bucknell up eight points at 50-42.
Navy’s Fox drove through the Bison defense to make a layup and then Anderson drew a blocking foul on Avi Toomer. Toomer argued the call and was given a technical foul. Sophomore George Kiernan made the two technical free throws and then Anderson made the two free throws for the original foul. Navy senior Edward Alade then got a steal and Anderson fed Alade for a dunk to tie the game at 50-50 on an 8-0 Navy run.
Bucknell responded right back as Foulland scored six points in an 8-1 run that would force the Mids to rally once again. Dulin converted a three-point play and two free throws by Kiernan cut Bucknell’s lead to just 58-56 with five minutes to play. Anderson got a steal on Bucknell’s next possession but the Mids missed everything on a fastbreak 3-point attempt. The Bison went down on the other end and Sestina scored a layup and was fouled to swing momentum back to the home team.
John Azzinaro scored to put Bucknell up six at the under-four media timeout. Kiernan made one free throw coming out of the timeout and then a steal by Dulin led to two free throws by Anderson. After a Bucknell miss, Abdullah went coast-to-coast and finished an and-one play to once again tie Bucknell at 62-62 with 2:28 remaining.
Thomas made two free throws for Bucknell and then Lacey made one-of-two at the line for Navy. Foulland then made a pair of free throws, which was followed by Anderson’s driving layup and then Mackenzie’s clutch 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining to decide the game.
Anderson, an All-Patriot League Second-Team honoree, led Navy with 21 points and he also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 36 minutes.
Dulin scored 15 points and made Navy’s only two 3-pointers of the game. Kiernan scored seven points, all on free throws, and Lacey tallied five points and a team-best eight rebounds. Abdullah finished with six points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
Thomas led Bucknell with 22 points and also had five assists. Foulland scored 18 points with five rebounds and two blocks.
Bucknell outshot Navy 49 percent (22-of-45) to 32 percent (21-of-65). Navy was just 2-of-16 (13 percent) on 3-pointers, while Bucknell was just 2-of-12 from distance (17 percent).
“Offensively, we have not had a good shooting percentage over the last four games,” said DeChellis. “It is very frustrating for our kids because we work hard on it. Defensively, we have hung in there and we rebounded the ball, but we haven’t shot the ball very well.”
Navy outrebounded Bucknell, 37-32. The Mids grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, and had 20 more field goal attempts than Bucknell, but converted the offensive boards to just seven second-chance points. Navy forced Bucknell to commit 16 turnovers, which led to 19 points.
The Mids made their first Patriot League Tournament Semifinal appearance since 2001 and Navy increased its conference win total (10-8) for the fifth straight season under DeChellis.
Alade finishes his Navy career ranked sixth in program history in career games played with 120.
Lacey recorded 100 offensive rebounds this season, which is tied for the second-most in a season at Navy since the statistic was first tracked in 1987. David Robinson holds the single-season record with 109 offensive rebounds.
Bucknell will host Lehigh in the Patriot League Championship on Wednesday. No. 3 Lehigh defeated No. 2 Boston University, 91-88, in double overtime in the other semifinal.