Men’s Basketball Hosts Niagara Saturday in First Leg of Hoops-Wrestling Twin Bill

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Sojka Pavilion is the place to be on Saturday, as the Bucknell men’s basketball and wrestling teams will stage a unique doubleheader. The Bison men’s basketball squad goes for a 2-0 start when it hosts Niagara at 4 p.m. After the conclusion of the game, the wrestling mats will be unrolled, and the Bison grapplers will host 11th-ranked Oklahoma State starting at 7 p.m.

For just $25, fans can gain admission to both events in Sojka Pavilion, and this package deal is available for purchase at the Bucknell Box Office. Fans will also have the ability to purchase $10 tickets for admission to the wrestling dual only. The single-event tickets for wrestling will be available as walk-up purchases beginning the day of the event. Between the two competitions, there will be a buffet meal available in the McGee Room located on the concourse for a nominal charge.

The evening will also be dedicated to raising awareness for ALS in honor of Bucknell Alum and former member of the Bison men’s basketball team Patrick Behan ’10. Several alumni will be in attendance, including a number of his former teammates, and Behan will be recognized at halftime. 

Bison Dimes & Riding Time

GAME DIGEST

What:
 Niagara (0-1) at Bucknell (1-0)

Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.

When: Saturday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m.

Streaming: ESPN+

Local Radio: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3)

Internet Audio: BucknellBison.com

Live Stats: BucknellBison.com

COMPLETE GAME NOTES

DIGITAL GAME PROGRAM

Bucknell Tentative Starters

G: Elvin Edmonds IV (18.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 8.0 apg)

G: Xander Rice (14.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 5.0 apg)

F: Ian Motta (11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)

F: Alex Timmerman (6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)

C: Andre Screen (12.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg)

With a Win over Niagara, Bucknell Would …  

  • … improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2012-13, when the Bison defeated Purdue and George Mason on the way to a 5-0 start.
  • … defeat the Purple Eagles for the fourth straight time and level the all-time series at 5-5.
  • … win its fourth straight home game dating back to last season and improve to 202-70 all-time in Sojka Pavilion.

Headlines

  • After waltzing to a record-setting victory over Division III Lebanon Valley in the season opener on Monday, Bucknell hosts Niagara on Saturday. The game will be the first leg of a hoops/wrestling doubleheader. After the Bison and Purple Eagles are finished, the mats will be unrolled and the Bucknell wrestling team will host  11th-ranked Oklahoma State in Sojka Pavilion at 7 p.m.
  • The basketball squad will be holding its Alumni Day on Saturday. Most notably, Patrick Behan ’10 will be recognized at halftime along with several of his former teammates. Behan, currently the head coach at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., was diagnosed with ALS last May. Part of the events of the day will be dedicated to raising awareness for ALS and his “Behan Strong” foundation. 
  • The Bison took care of business after a slow start on Monday, blitzing Lebanon Valley 113-52. Bucknell tied a school record with 21 made 3-pointers and set the modern-era record for largest margin of victory.
  • Six Bison scored in double figures against Lebanon Valley, with Elvin Edmonds IV and Josh Adoh leading the way with 18 points apiece. Bucknell shot 60.0% from the field and 53.8% (21-39) from the arc against a packed-in Flying Dutchmen defense. 
  • The Bison were picked eighth in the Patriot League preseason coaches’ poll, ahead of Holy Cross and Lafayette. Defending-champion Colgate was the preseason No. 1 pick. 
  • Bucknell is looking to bounce back from a 9-23 season a year ago. The Bison were playing well at the end of the season, however, with an overtime win at Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament first round capping a 3-1 stretch. Bucknell was eliminated by Colgate in the quarterfinal round. 
  • Bucknell won eight Patriot League regular-season titles in a nine-year span from 2011-19, and the Bison went to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2018 during that stretch. Now Bucknell is trying to rebound from a rare run of three straight sub-.500 seasons, something that has not happened since 2007-08 to 2009-10, although the Bison did win conference tournament games in each of the last three years.
  • This year’s squad is led by a trio of senior co-captains in Xander Rice, Alex Timmerman, and Jake van der Heijden. Rice is in his second season as a captain. 
  • Bucknell steadily improved offensively last season and ended up second in the league in scoring at 71.2 points per game while ranking in the top three in all of the shooting percentage statistics. The Bison struggled on defense, however, giving up an average of 79.4 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 46.6% from the field and 37.3% from the 3-point arc.  
  • Niagara fell 71-49 at Maryland in its opener on Monday. The Purple Eagles trailed by only four early in the first half before the Terrapins pulled away. Braxton Bayless paced Niagara with 14 points, while former American forward Sam Iorio added 12 points. The Purple Eagles shot 40.0% from the field but finished 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. 
  • Niagara finished 14-16 overall and 9-11 in the MAAC last season. One of those wins was a 70-59 road verdict over Patriot League champion Colgate. Niagara was the No. 5 seed in the MAAC Tournament and fell 61-58 to No. 4 Monmouth in the quarterfinals. 
  • This year’s Niagara squad features 11 newcomers and only three returning players from 2021-22. Six of those 11 newcomers are transfers. Niagara was picked eighth in the MAAC preseason poll. Noah Tomasson, a senior guard, was a Preseason All-MAAC Second Team selection. 
  • Niagara freshman guard Shane Lancaster attended St. John’s College HS and was coached by Patrick Behan.
  • Head coach Greg Paulus is in his fourth season at the helm. Paulus is a former standout player at Duke, and he was the starting point guard when Bucknell visited Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 2, 2006. Paulus recorded four points and seven assists as the top-ranked Blue Devils defeated the Bison 84-50. That was one of only five losses all season for that Bucknell team, and that game was the first in team history against a No. 1-ranked opponent.  

How to Get the Game

  • Saturday’s game will stream live on ESPN+, with Doug Birdsong back for his 23rd season as Bucknell’s play-by-play announcer. He will be joined for select games by former Bison assistant coach Joe Meehan. 
  • Kevin Foedinger will have the radio call on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) in the Susquehanna Valley. Note the radio station change for this game, due to an overlap with the Bucknell football game on WVLY.
  • The audio feed is also available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com. 
  • Live statistics can be accessed via BucknellBison.com.
  • Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter. 

Bucknell vs. Niagara Series Notes

  • The Bison and Purple Eagles are meeting for the 10th time overall and for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Niagara holds a 5-4 lead in the series, but the Bison have won the last three. 
  • The most recent meeting came in Buffalo as part of the 2012 2K Sports Classic, when the Bison won three games in three days to capture the subregional. After trailing by as many as 12 late in the first half, Bucknell outscored Niagara 50-28 in the second half on the way to an 88-71 victory. Mike Muscala, then a senior, recorded 18 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocked shots. Six Bison scored in double figures for the Bison, who shot 52.5% from the field and hit 9 of 18 from the arc.
  • Niagara’s last trip to Sojka Pavilion was a memorable game in a storybook 2004-05 season for the Bison. The Purple Eagles rolled in three days before Christmas with the highest-scoring offense in the nation, averaging 89.7 points per game. But Bucknell’s 14th-ranked defense won out, as Charles Lee’s 17-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds remaining gave the Bison a 76-74 victory. The Bison would follow with road wins over Saint Joseph’s and No. 10/7 Pittsburgh, and the season culminated with a Patriot League championship and an NCAA first-round upset of Kansas. 
  • These two teams first met on Jan. 12, 1982 in Buffalo, and the Purple Eagles won 92-75 on the way to a 19-10 season. The Bison avenged that loss with a 67-48 win in Davis Gym the following season.    

Last Time Out

  • Led by six players scoring in double figures and a school-record-tying 21 3-pointers, Bucknell opened the 2022-23 season with a 113-52 victory over Lebanon Valley on Monday night at Sojka Pavilion.
  • Josh Adoh tallied 18 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, and he gave Bucknell a big spark off the bench in the early stages after the Flying Dutchmen jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead. Elvin Edmonds IV went 6-for-7 from downtown, tied his career high with 18 points, and set a new personal best with eight assists.Xander Rice chipped in 14 points and five assists, Andre Screen logged 12 points and eight rebounds, and Ian Motta and Brady Muller scored 11 points apiece. Motta had a perfect shooting night, including 3-for-3 from the arc.
  • The freshman Muller scored his 11 points in just eight minutes. Freshman Ruot Bijiek scored eight points in his debut, and Josh Bascoe had a strong outing with eight points, five assists, and four rebounds.
  • The starting backcourt of Edmonds and Rice combined to make 10 of 15 from long range. All told, seven different Bison made a 3-pointer, and the team collected 25 assists on its 42 made field goals.

School Records Set or Tied vs. Lebanon Valley

Stat               #    Previous


Victory Margin    61    51 vs. Dickinson (91-40, 12/4/95); vs. Elizabethtown (81-30, 12/6/44)

3FG Made          21    21 vs. Lafayette (2/24/19)

Sojka Pavilion Records Set or Tied vs. Lebanon Valley

Stat                   #    Previous


Victory Margin        61    50 vs. Army (75-25, 2/22/04)

3FG Made              21    21 vs. Lafayette (2/24/19)

3FG Attempted         39    39 vs. Holy Cross (3/3/16)

Points in any half    63    63 vs. Lafayette (2/24/19)

Points in 2nd half    63    59 vs. Siena (11/20/17)

Notable Numbers

  • Bucknell’s 21 made 3-pointers against Lebanon Valley are the most by any Division I team so far on the opening week of the season. 

3FG Made in a Game, 2022-23 Season

   Team                 No.    Opponent


1. Bucknell              21    Lebanon Valley, 11/7/22

2. Bryant                19    Thomas, 11/7/22

   Eastern Kentucky      19    Miami Middletown, 11/7/22

4. Penn State            18    Winthrop, 11/7/22

5. N.C. A&T              18    Edward Waters, 11/7/22

   Jacksonville State    18    Shorter, 11/7/22     

  • Even though four starters are returning, Bucknell’s shot distribution will look different this season. The graduated Andrew Funk accounted for 27.5% of the team’s field-goal attempts and 24.8% of the team’s points a year ago.
  • Bucknell struggled defensively last season, and a big reason was an inability to create turnovers. Opponents committed only 9.6 miscues per game in 2021-22. That coupled with some rebounding troubles meant that opponents attempted 248 more field goals and 107 more 3-pointers.
  • Bucknell was excellent at the free-throw line last season, hitting at a 76.5% clip. That was the best mark in the Patriot League and 23rd-best in all of Division I basketball. 
  • Xander Rice led the free-throw parade, hitting 88.4% (122-138) to rank first in the Patriot League and 20th in the nation. That was also the third-best mark in team history. Josh Adoh (20-22) and Elvin Edmonds IV (36-40) both hit the 90% mark at the stripe but did not have enough attempts to qualify for the league leaders. 
  • Rice also shot 42.4% from the 3-point arc to rank fifth in the Patriot League.
  • Alex Timmerman ranked second in the league in field-goal percentage at 59.9%, which was the eighth-best figure in team history.

Patriot League Success

  • Bucknell is 311-151 (.673) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. Last year was only the sixth time in 32 years that the Bison finished with a sub-.500 PL record.
  • Bucknell won three straight Patriot League regular-season titles from 2011-13, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat. The Bison had won five in a row and eight of the previous nine before finishing T-6th in 2019-20.
  • Bucknell has made nine Patriot League Tournament appearances as the No. 1 seed and seven as the No. 2 seed.
  • Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2018. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 24 times and to the championship game 13 times in the league’s first 31 years. 
  • The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).  

Home Cooking

  • Since Sojka Pavilion debuted in 2003, the Bison are 201-70 (.742) overall and 146-37 (.798) against Patriot League foes. 
  • Bucknell won a record 15 home games in 2016-17, and then it matched that figure a year later. Over the last six-plus years, Bucknell is 61-20 at home.

Who’s Got Next?

  • Bucknell will hit the road for the first time in 2022-23 on Tuesday with a trip to Saint Peter’s. 
  • The Peacocks were the Cinderella team in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance all the way to the Elite Eight after upsets of Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue.
  • This will be the 16th time that Bucknell has played a team that reached the NCAA Elite Eight the previous season. The Bison are 6-9 in the first 15 such games, with the last win coming against Arizona in the 2012 NIT. The Wildcats were an Elite Eight team in 2011. 

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