Saturday , Nov , 22 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Not so free throws: Michigan St. survives scare from Bucknell

East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) – Paul Davis scored 21 points and grabbed
eight rebounds, as third-ranked Michigan State survived a tough one against
Bucknell, 64-52, at the Breslin Center.

Chris Hill added 12 points and seven assists for the Spartans (1-0), who
needed a 15-2 run at the end of the game to defeat a pesky Bison squad.
Michigan State also made a comeback last season, reaching the NCAA
Tournament’s Elite Eight after losing a disappointing 12 games in the regular
season.

Kevin Bettencourt poured in 21 points to lead the Bison (0-1), who finished
14-15 last season and made it to the second round of the Patriot League
Conference tournament. Davorin Skornik grabbed a game-high 11 boards in the
loss.

Bucknell, which was an abysmal 1-for-17 from the free-throw line, actually led
for much of the second half and could have pulled it out, if not for the poor
shooting performance.

Trailing by one at halftime, the Bison scored 11 of the first 17 points in the
second half and grabbed a 43-39 lead on consecutive three-pointers by Chris
Niesz.

The Spartans cut that deficit to one point minutes later, which is where it
hovered for much of the second half. That was until MSU went on a tear to end
the game.

Bucknell held a slim 50-49 advantage with less then eight minutes to play, but
the Spartans started out on a game-saving 15-2 burst after that. Shannon
Brown’s layup around the 5:00 mark sparked the run and gave MSU the lead for
good at 51-50. His free throws near the end of play capped the spurt and gave
the Spartans their final margin of victory.

Bucknell missed six free throws during the game-ending run, and were just 1-
for-8 from the field during the spurt. The Bison’s only bucket during the
burst was a jumper by Antario Glover near the 4:00 mark.

A seemingly overmatched Bucknell team kept pace in the first half and headed
to the locker room trailing by one just point. The Spartans led by eight at
one point late in the frame, pulling ahead 28-20 on a pair of Brown free
throws near the 6:00 mark.

But the Bison battled back, responding with a 9-3 burst and pulling within
31-29 on Charles Lee’s layup just over a minute later. The Michigan State lead
grew to three before Skornik’s bucket before the half got Bucknell within
33-32.

Skornik finished with four points, while Niesz added eight for Bucknell in the
was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Bucknell played its
highest-ranked opponent in team history.

BUCKNELL MICHIGANST