Bucknell 56, Holy Cross 42
LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP)—Finally home after a month on the road, Bucknell held off its biggest Patriot League rival in a rough-and-tumble affair.
Chris McNaughton scored 15 points, and Charles Lee added 12 and nine rebounds as Bucknell (12-3, 3-0) used a big first-half run to fend off a late surge in a 56-42 win over Holy Cross on Saturday.
It was a physical game with sloppy ball-handling and bad shots on both ends. But Holy Cross (9-8, 2-1) trailed 34-14 at halftime after their first-half mistakes were compounded by a spate of bad luck, with numerous shots rimming in and out of the basket.
Star Kevin Hamilton missed all six of his shots for Holy Cross and was held to two points in the first half under a stifling Bucknell defense. That changed in the second as Hamilton found his stroke, hitting two deep 3-pointers and a couple mid-range jumpers.
An Alex Vander Baan layup cut the deficit to 44-35 with about nine minutes left in the game. But Bucknell did just enough to win and Abe Badmus, Lee and McNaughton hit key free throws down the stretch.
Hamilton finished with 18 points and Keith Simmons had 12 for Holy Cross.
The Bison developed a reputation as a giant-killer after upsetting Kansas in the NCAA tournament last year. This season, they have defeated Syracuse, Saint Joseph’s and DePaul, and lost to top-ranked Duke and No. 3 Villanova.
But no team knows Bucknell like Holy Cross, which has met the Bison for the Patriot League championship nine times in the last 15 seasons. Bucknell upset the Crusaders on the road in last year’s title game, a contest that sent the Bison to the NCAA tournament.
Tied 6-6 with about 16 minutes left in the first half, McNaughton opened a 28-8 run after spinning in the lane and getting a slam dunk. Seven minutes later, Darren Mastropaolo hit a layup, then John Griffin found Lee for a 3-pointer to give the Bison a 20-7 lead.