Bucknell upsets Vanderbilt 75-72, Thomas scored 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Slow starts doomed Bucknell to two double-digit losses earlier in the season.
The Bison started slow again Monday night against Vanderbilt, but this recovered for an upset win.
Zach Thomas scored 17 points and Stephen Brown and Nana Foulland both added 15 to lead Bucknell in a 75-72 upset of Vanderbilt in the campus portion of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Bucknell's last win over a Southeastern Conference team was a 59-55 victory over Arkansas in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
''We played at Wake Forest and we got blown out there, and then we played at Butler and we got blown out,'' Thomas said. ''We got off to a bad start here, but we battled back and showed our toughness tonight and that was a big win for us.''
Things looked bad for the Bison (3-2) when the Commodores (2-2) hit eight of their first nine shots from the floor, including their first five, to take an early nine-point lead.
But a 16-4 run reversed the momentum and Bucknell led 40-38 at halftime.
Vanderbilt's Matthew Fisher-Davis scored 23 points, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 65-all with 3:38 left.
He had a chance to send the game into overtime, but made only 2 of 3 foul shots with 5.2 seconds left, narrowing Bucknell's lead to 73-72.
''I was just praying he'd miss one and he did, and that helped us out,'' Thomas said.
Fisher-Davis finished 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
Kimball Mackenzie added two foul shots for Bucknell with 4.1 seconds left. Foulland grabbed 12 rebounds.
''Hopefully, it will show our guys what they're capable of, understanding that we're not nearly where we need to be to get to where we want to go, but it's all there in front of us,'' Bison coach Nathan Davis said.
Luke Kornet scored 19 points and Riley LaChance had 10 points and six assists for Vanderbilt.
The lead changed hands seven times early in the second half before an 8-0 spurt by Bucknell gave the Bison a 63-56 lead with 10:48 left and Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew called a time out.
''Credit Bucknell,'' Drew said. ''They made shots tonight, they played with a lot of passion coming off a game they didn't play as well. They definitely showed a lot of urgency, a lot of energy tonight.''
With the win, the Bison improved to 4-9 against SEC teams.
''They had some spurts where we had a lot of trouble scoring the ball,'' Kornet said. ''They were disciplined offensively and defensively. They just did a good job of working to get good shots and then they hit them when they got them.''
Bucknell: The Bison suffered two double-digit losses earlier in the season, but showed their resiliency against Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores almost sent the game into overtime, but Fisher-Davis couldn't get a crucial foul shot to drop late despite playing an impressive game overall.
A lot of Bucknell bench players contributed to the win. ''Avi Toomer, the freshman, came in and gave us an edge when we weren't getting stops and we needed it,'' Davis said. ''I thought Nate Sestina did the same thing.'' D.J. MacLeay and Mackenzie also played strong defensively.
Getting a win at Vanderbilt, where the Commodores play so well, will probably help Bucknell. ''Last year we played a lot of teams really close and didn't get over the hump,' Davis said. ''Hopefully, today they got over the hump and they understand how hard it is and how much effort you've got to give.''
Bucknell plays Norfolk State at the Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday before meeting Sacred Heart or Northern Colorado the next day.
Vanderbilt faces Butler at the Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday before playing No. 8 Arizona or Santa Clara on Friday.