LORETTO - In the modern era, the St. Francis men's basketball team has never entered January winless.
The way things are going for the Red Flash, history is likely to be made.
St. Francis fell to 0-9 on the season after getting pounded by Bucknell, 76-49, Monday night at DeGol Arena.
Mirror photo by J.D.?Cavrich
St.?Francis’ Anthony Ervin has his shot blocked by Bucknell’s Joe Willman.
The Red Flash have two games left before the new year, neither of which favor them to win.
St. Francis travels to Kent State on Thursday and hosts Cornell on Dec. 28.
"This group needs a win, just from a mentality standpoint," St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. "We played well enough in a few games early [in the season] to win. To get this thing moving, we need to get a win. It's not going to get any easier.
"Just because we're at home, doesn't mean we're going to play better. We should shoot the ball better when we're at home, but these guys can't think 'Oh, we're at home. Everything's going to be OK.' It's a big stretch for us."
But the Red Flash couldn't hit much in their own gym.
They were 5-of-25 (20 percent) from the field in the first half and finished the night 16-of-54 (30 percent).
But even more telling was their 3-for-23 effort from beyond the arc.
"First couple minutes of the game, I thought we did some good things, got some good looks," Krimmel said.
After Bucknell opened up to a 33-14 lead, St. Francis took several ill-advised shots to try to cut into the lead.
"We went into trying to make a 'hero' play," Krimmel said. "We didn't stick to the game plan. When you go 3-for-23 [from 3-point territory] in your own gym, that's not a good night."
St. Francis was within five points after Earl Brown - who returned to the lineup after being cleared of concussion-like symptoms - hit a pair of free throws, but the Bison got some open looks and took advantage.
Bryson Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Joe Willman made an easy layup, and Cameron Ayers drilled two 3s to give Bucknell (10-1) a 19-point cushion in less than three minutes.
"I thought the last 7 or 8 minutes of the first half, we really stepped up with our defensive intensity, and I thought that fueled our run," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said.
"They got the ball rolling a little bit," Krimmel said. "Against a good, experienced team like that, you can't give them that momentum."
With 48 seconds left in the first half, St. Francis' frustrations ran so high that assistant coach Eric Taylor was whistled for a double-technical and ejected from the game.
As he continued yelling at officials, he knocked over his chair, which fell a few feet onto the court. Before he left the arena, he was yelling back to the bench to "show some heart" while pounding his chest.
"The comment that I heard [from Taylor] - I can't remember the play, someone got fouled - he said it loud enough for the official to hear it," Krimmel explained. "That's a point of emphasis, and we've talked about that. The official heard it and responded to it.
"It's unacceptable - even in the heat of the moment, heat of the battle. The emotions got the better of him. He's a competitive guy. I had a chance to talk to him. As a team, we'll talk about it [today]. It's unacceptable, and we will address it."
Bucknell - which is in a stretch of playing four games in seven days - had a chance to rest its starters in the second half.
Johnson was the last starter to sub-out at the 12:08 mark, and from there, the Bison bench was still able to match St. Francis point for point (23-23).
"That's very [frustrating]," Krimmel said of the second half. "But they were playing with a lot of confidence in the first half. It's sports. You know that big brother thing, when you see your big brother out there playing with confidence, it's a little easier to go out there. Give them credit because they set that tone in the first half."
Brown led St. Francis with 12 points, while Bucknell held Umar Shannon and Ollie Jackson - who returned from an ankle injury - to seven points each. Ben Millaud-Meunier also scored seven points for the Red Flash.
The Bison, meanwhile, had double-digit performances from Ayers (13 points in 23 minutes), Johnson (12 points, 28 minutes), Willman (12 points, 21 minutes) and Mike Muscala (12 points, 21 minutes) - all starters.
"We were certainly concerned coming into the game," said Paulsen, who was previously 0-2 in Loretto. "We felt like St. Francis played teams from our league really tough. And since I've been here, we've never won at St. Francis. It's a historically tough place for us to play."
But Bucknell had no trouble on Monday.
The Bison shot 55 percent (27-for-49) from the floor, had 15 assists and won the rebounding battle, 43-23.
"I thought it was good effort for us," Paulsen said. "From our perspective, it went about as well as it could."