Back-to-back wins give Bison two-game Patriot League lead

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Back-to-back wins give Bison two-game Patriot League lead

Justin Schaumberger, Staff Writer

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The Bison men’s basketball team won two crucial league games to extend their lead atop the Patriot League to two games. The Bison dispatched Boston University on Feb. 9, winning 82-76. Then on Feb. 11, in a nationally televised game, the Bison outlasted Lehigh for a huge 87-75 win at Sojka Pavilion. With five league games remaining, the Bison are firmly in the driver’s seat to secure home-court advantage throughout the Patriot League Tournament.

 

Nate Sestina ’19 led the way for the Bison, tallying 25 points and 11 rebounds in only 25 minutes of play due to early foul trouble. Kimbal Mackenzie ’19 poured in 20 points. Bruce Moore ’20 helped the Bison win the battle of the boards with 10 rebounds to go along with his 10 points, his fourth double-double of the season.

 

Avi Toomer ’20 and Jimmy Sotos ’21 controlled the pace of the game and dished out 12 of the Bison’s 20 team assists. The Bison bench chipped in 18 points, led by John Meeks ’21, who scored his 10 points in only 12 minutes of action.

 

The Bison were able to avenge a loss to the Terriers earlier this season, boosted by a strong second-half performance. Despite trailing by four points at halftime, the Bison offense turned it up in the second half. Sestina and Mackenzie combined for 32 of the Bison’s 46 second-half points. The defense also held the Terriers scoreless for over five minutes, while the Orange and Blue were able to gain a 59-51 lead that they never relinquished.

 

The big game of the week was on Feb. 11 when Lehigh traveled to Sojka in attempt to regain a share of the Patriot League lead. Despite a sloppy start, the Bison were able to complete their first regular-season sweep of Lehigh since 2011. Mackenzie led the way with a game-high 27 points, his fourth straight 20-point performance. Sestina chipped in a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sotos did it all for the Bison, contributing 12 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Bruce Moore and John Meeks also scored in double figures, with the two forwards combining for 22 points.

 

Once again, the Orange and Blue found themselves trailing by double digits, but were able to rally and win their 17th game of the season, locking in coming out of the halftime break. A 20-7 start to the second half gave the Bison a 10-point lead that they would never give up.

 

The Orange and Blue executed their game plan to perfection and limited the best three-point shooting team in the country. Lehigh came in shooting 44.7 percent from three-point range on the year, but the Bison’s stout defense held the Mountain Hawks to 27.3 percent. Additionally, the Bison were stellar on the boards, out-rebounding Lehigh 43-31. The Bison are now 10-1 on the season in games where they out-rebounded their opponents.

 

With the chance to win a Patriot League Title in sight, along with a possible NCAA tournament bid, the seniors recognize how important home court advantage is in the playoffs.

 

“It’s huge! Having the crowd behind you is a big part of the game,” Sestina said. “If someone has a tough bucket or a big shot and the crowd erupts, that’s such an important part of the game.”

 

The Bison will look to inch closer to the league title on Feb. 16 when they face Holy Cross at 12 p.m.

 

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