Bucknell 81, Lehigh 70
LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP)—Abe Badmus scored a career-high 17 points and Bucknell clinched the Patriot League regular-season title with an 81-70 victory over Lehigh on Wednesday night.
Bucknell (22-4, 13-0 Patriot League) can become the first team in Patriot League history to go 14-0 with a win over Army at home on Saturday. Bucknell won the league’s regular-season title for the fourth time overall and the first time since 1995. The Bison also secured home-court advantage throughout the league tournament.
Bucknell matched the best 26-game start in school history and tied a school record with its 13th league victory. Bucknell is one of five Division I schools unbeaten on conference play, along with Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference), George Washington (Atlantic-10), Gonzaga (WCC) and Memphis (Conference-USA).
Badmus scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half as the Bison thwarted a pair of Lehigh runs.
The Mountain Hawks (18-10, 11-2) fell behind by 10 points twice in the second half, but closed within four points twice.
Jose Olivero hit a 3-pointer with 7:24 remaining to make it 59-55, but Bucknell scored seven straight points to regain a double-digit lead.
Bucknell pushed its lead to 75-60 before the Mountain Hawks closed to 79-70 with 37.5 seconds left.
Olivero led Lehigh with 21 points. Joe Knight came off the bench to score 15 points.
Knight’s back-to-back 3-pointers rallied the Mountain Hawks within four points with 14:40 left in the second half.
Kyle Neptune added 12 points, Charles Lee scored 16, Kevin Bettencourt 13 and Chris McNaughton 10 for Bucknell.
Bucknell’s 81 points were the most allowed by Lehigh since an 84-57 loss to Villanova on Nov. 27. The Mountain Hawks rank 17th in the nation in scoring defense.
Lehigh led just once, 5-4, early in the first half.
Both of the Mountain Hawks’ league losses have been to Bucknell, including a 59-54 decision back on Jan. 25.
The Mountain Hawks can still claim No. 2 seeded spot for the Patriot League tournament with a win at Holy Cross (17-11, 10-3) on Sunday.