Men’s basketball three-game winning streak snapped

Patrick Dempsey, Contributing Writer

After losing a heartbreaker to undefeated Maryland 80-78 on Nov. 18 to round out a four-game road trip that kicked off the 2017-2018 season, the Bison men’s basketball team recovered by winning three games straight before dropping a loss to St. Joseph’s on Nov. 29.

Zach Thomas ’18 leads the offense for the Orange and Blue, averaging 25.4 points per game, which ranks him third in the nation for scoring.

“We knew our schedule would be challenging, and although the results were not what we had hoped, we felt we got better each game,” Thomas said.

The Orange and Blue backed up this positivity by slamming Siena in their home opener on Nov. 20, before taking down Ball State and Stony Brook later in the week.

Before tipoff in the home opener, the 2,053 fans in attendance watched the unveiling of the 2016 Patriot League Championship and NCAA Tournament banners at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison backed up these titles with a 115-92 rout over Siena. It was the first time the Bison have scored over 100 points against a Division I opponent since Feb. 9, 1994 against Lafayette.

On Nov. 22, the Bison beat Ball State 87-83 in an exciting finish at home. The Cardinals led the game 81-80 with two minutes left to play, but the Bison hit four crucial three throws to escape with a narrow win. Head Coach Nathan Davis played every active player on his roster, and four different players contributed double-digit points.

Riding this two-game win streak, the Bison traveled to take on Stony Brook on Nov. 26. In a contest between two teams that are well known for their ability to put up points in a hurry, the first ten minutes of the game were surprisingly characterized by strong defense on both sides. As the first half went on, the Orange and Blue seemed to find their offensive flow and went on to take a 40-31 lead into halftime.

Three turnovers by the Seawolves and back-to-back buckets for the Bison to start the second half gave the Bison a double-digit lead. Stony Brook kept the difference to single digits for most of the second half but never got within five, as the Bison went on to win the game 85-76. Thomas had an electrifying game, scoring a career-high 38 points to accompany his 11 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. It was the 11th highest individual scoring performance in program history, and the second highest since 2003.

“I didn’t force anything. I just let the game come to me,” Thomas said. “It’s a nice accolade [the 38 points] but it doesn’t mean that much. I would much rather have a couple more wins to our record.”

While Thomas’s 38 points carried the Bison, Jimmy Sotos ’21, Nana Foulland ’18, and Bruce Moore ’20 all finished in double figures as well. As a team, the Orange and Blue hit 23 of 24 free throws and tallied 20 assists on 25 field goals.

The team’s three-game winning streak was broken Nov. 29 on the road at St. Joe’s with a 83-70 loss. Foulland led the team with 17 points, but poor shooting plagued the Orange and Blue, who only hit 52.2% of free throws and went 4-27 from three-point range.

The Bison look to regain their stride when they host the America East Conference coaches’ preseason poll favorite Vermont on Dec. 2.

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