LEWISBURG — John Meeks scored 19 points to lead four Bucknell players in double figures, as the Bison got back on the winning side with a 75-60 victory over Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. Now 3-1 in the Patriot League, the Bison also received 17 points from Andrew Funk, 13 from Avi Toomer and 12 from Bruce Moore in his return from injury.
The Bison (7-10) closed the first half on a 9-2 run to go up 37-29 at the break, and then they strung together an 11-0 run in the early minutes of the second half to pull away from a young Crusaders (2-15, 1-3 PL) squad.
Bucknell continues its recent solid defensive form, recording 12 steals while forcing 22 Holy Cross turnovers. Meeks, Toomer and Jimmy Sotos all collected three steals apiece, and the Bison also blocked seven shots and committed only 10 turnovers of their own.
“For the most part, going back to the game at La Salle, we have played pretty good defense,” said head coach Nathan Davis, who earned his 96th win in his fifth year at the Bison helm. “We have been giving up less than a point per possession, and that is going to win you a lot of games. I thought we came out with good focus, guys were flying around on defense, and that helped us get some easy baskets at the other end.”
After missing the previous two games due to injury, Moore returned to the starting lineup at the five spot, and he scored in the lane on Bucknell’s first possession of the day. The Bison made a concerted effort to get the ball inside and outscored the Crusaders 38-24 in the paint. Bucknell also repeatedly pushed the ball up the floor, scoring 18 fastbreak points, many coming off of Holy Cross turnovers.
The Crusaders were led by freshman Drew Lowder who scored a game-high 21 points while making four three-pointers for Holy Cross. Austin Butler had 17 points, while Connor Niego recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Leading scorer Joe Pridgen (16.2 ppg), a five-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week this season, was limited to four points in 24 minutes as he battled some foul trouble.
Coming off a tough loss to Navy at home on Wednesday, Funk got the Bison going with 13 first-half points, including a make on the team’s first 3-point attempt of the night. After going just 5-for-29 from the arc against Navy, the Bison were 6-for-14 (.429) in this one. They shot 46.8 percent overall.
Holy Cross shot 44.0 percent in the game, including 6-for-21 from the arc.
Meeks scored 13 of his 19 in the second half, and he is now averaging 17.5 points per game in Patriot League play. Sotos, Bucknell’s leading scorer coming in, was held to four in this one, but he did have eight assists. He now has 331 in his career, one shy of Russell Peyton for ninth on Bucknell’s all-time list.
Bucknell will next play at American on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Bucknell 75, Holy Cross 60
Saturday at Bucknell
Holy Cross (2-15)
Austin Butler 6-9 5-6 17; Connor Niego 4-10 2-4 11; Joe Pridgen 2-4 0-0 4; Matt Faw 2-5 0-1 4; Ryan Wade 1-5 0-0 3; Drew Lowder 7-15 3-3 21; Marlon Hargis 0-2 0-0 0; Clayton Le Sann 0-0 0-0 0.
: 22-50 10-14 60.
John Meeks 7-11 3-4 19; Andrew Funk 7-15 1-1 17; Avi Toomer 4-9 3-4 13; Bruce Moore 4-8 4-6 12; Jimmy Sotos 2-7 0-0 4; Xander Rice 3-6 0-0 6; Paul Newman 2-4 0-2 4; Jake van der Heijden 0-1 0-0 0; Walter Ellis 0-0 0-0 0; Kahliel Spear 0-0 0-0 0; Malachi Rhodes 0-0 0-0 0; Alex Timmerman 0-0 0-0 0.
29-62 11-17 75.
Halftime: Bucknell, 37-29. 3-point goals: Holy Cross 6-21 (Lowder 4-9, Niego 1-3, Wade 0-1, Butler 0-2, Hargis 0-1); Bucknell 6-14 (Meeks 2-3, Funk 2-4, Toomer 2-4, Heijden 0-1, Sotos 0-2). Rebounds: Holy Cross 35 (Niego 10); Bucknell 32 (Funk 7). Assists: Holy Cross 7 (Lowder 2); Bucknell 15 (Sotos 8). Technical fouls: None. A: 2,575.