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NEW YORK - The Columbia men's basketball team led by as many as 17 points in the first half and was perfect from the free throw line, but Bucknell rallied in the second period and escaped with a 65-57 victory over the Lions in front of an uplifting soldout crowd in Levien Gym.
Three Lions hit double figures, led by senior Brian Barbour who poured in a team-best 19 points. Alex Rosenberg was the team's second leading scorer with 15 points, while Mark Cisco chipped in with 10.
Columbia (4-3) shot a perfect 15 of 15 from the charity stripe, while Bucknell got 29 points and 19 rebounds from senior Mike Muscala in the win.
Columbia controlled the defensive boards early and jumped out to a 21-6 lead midway through the first half. Stifling defense kept the Bison to one-shot possessions, and the Lions
continued to take advantage of the treating Bucknell defense.
Cisco anchored the first half offense for Lions shooting 5-for-5 around the rim for 10 points in the half. Bucknell made a slight run to end the half, but the Lions outrebounded them defensively, 16-11, to hold on to a 32-25 lead at half.
The Lions came out in the second half determined to get into the paint of the Bison defense. Keyed by several big drives from Brain Barbour, Columbia jumped out to a 41-31 lead in the first five minutes.
The Bison used a 12-5 run to trim the Columbia lead to 44-43 midway through the second half. The game then became a defensive battle and the Bison took a 47-46 lead with 6:53 left in the game. On the next play, out of a Columbia timeout, Barbour knocked down a big three from the left wing to put Columbia back on top, 49-47.
The Lions remained in front for the next couple of minutes, but Muscala made a strong move to the hoop for a layup and was fouled to swing the score back in favor of Bucknell, 54-53, with 4:26 remaining.
Barbour and Muscala traded baskets on the next two trips down the floor, and Joe Willman put the Bison up for good with a layup at the 2:05 mark. Despite its best efforts, Columbia could not get another basket, and Bucknelll iced the game from the foul line.
The Lions return to action on Sunday, Dec. 9, at American. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m.