Men’s Basketball Season Ends at Hands of Temple in NIT

Ajan Caneda, Senior Writer

After earning an automatic NIT berth, the men’s basketball team’s season came to an end at Temple. In the semifinals, a hot-shooting second half by eventual champion Lafayette gave the Leopards the momentum they needed to eliminate the Bison in Sojka Pavilion 80-74 on March 8. The Bison’s regular season title gave them an NIT bid against Temple, a game in which they suffered a season-ending 73-67 loss in Philadelphia on March 18.

 The Bison finish the season 19-15 overall (13-5 PL).

“On any given night any team was capable of winning, shown clearly by a championship game consisting of four-seed Lafayette and six-seed American,” Cory Starkey ’15 said.

The Lafayette game was tightly contested after the Bison held a 34-31 halftime lead. The Bison opened the second half on a 9-2 run behind two layups from Ryan Frazier ’16, a dunk by Zach Thomas ’18, and a Chris Hass ’16 jumper.

The advantage was short-lived as Lafayette evened the score after a 10-0 run. After Frazier nailed a jumper to put the Bison up 48-47, the Leopards regained a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Lafayette shot 14-24 in the second half including 17-19 on free throws.

Threes from Frazier, Stephen Brown ’18, and Hass inched them closer to the lead, but the Leopards had answers for the Bison offense every time. Frazier scored a team-high 22 points.

“In the Lafayette game they played well offensively and we struggled with getting a stop towards the end. Even though we didn’t win, it’s still a great opportunity to play in the NIT,” Brown said.

In the Temple game, the Bison looked destined to pull off another NIT upset over a No. 1 seed, but the Owls’ defense gave them the slight edge over the Orange and Blue. Hass finished with 15 points, Nana Foulland ’18 had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and J.C. Show ’18 posted 13 points off the bench.

The Bison had several highlights this season. They clinched the Patriot League regular season title, garnered multiple league awards, and nearly knocked off Villanova, a team that is currently a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Head Coach Dave Paulsen won Patriot League Coach of the Year for the third time, Foulland made the All-Rookie Team, and Hass earned First-Team honors.

The team graduates are Steven Kaspar ’15, Starkey, and Joshea Singleton ’15. The trio earned a 2013 Patriot League Tournament championship and three regular season titles, which included an upset win over Arizona in the 2012 NIT.

Thomas, Foulland, Brown, and Show comprise the talented first-year class whose contributions this season have set the foundation for a bright future that hopes to include a Patriot League Championship.

“As long as we play hard, play together, and stick to our principles, we can go very far,” Brown said.

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