Holy Spirit High School graduate B.J. Bailey had the best game of his collegiate career Wednesday night.
The 2009 Press Boys Basketball Player of the Year scored a career-high 18 points as Lehigh won 65-62 at Bucknell in a showdown for first place in the Patriot League.
Bailey made his fifth straight start in place of star guard and NBA prospect C.J. McCollum, who could be done for the season with a foot injury. Lehigh is undefeated in those games.
In Lehigh’s biggest game so far this season, Bailey came through with 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Lehigh moved to 14-5 overall, 4-0 in the Patriot League. Bucknell, which had been unbeaten at home, fell to 16-4 overall and 3-1 in the Patriot League.
"Everybody knows basketball can be a game of runs. We knew when we were up 15, Bucknell was going to come back," Bailey told The Daily Item of Sunbury, Pa. "I don't remember being down seven. You can't really pay attention to the score. You just have to keep doing what you are doing and getting (defensive) stops and the score will work itself out at the end."
Here’s what others had to say about Bailey’s performance:
Lehigh coach Brett Reed (via LehighSports.com): “B.J. gave us an immediate spark and contribution. It’s obvious he came to play. We were able to ride him a little bit offensively.”
Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen (via the Williamsport Sun-Gazette): "You give a really good talented team like Lehigh a couple open looks on defensive lapses and then all of sudden the basket is like eight feet around for a guy like B.J. Bailey.”
David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News: “McKnight and Bailey simply were too quick to be handled on the perimeter. The Bison guards could not keep either out of the lane late. They fed each other and teammates, smooth and confident and poised down the stretch.”
Nicolas Lewis of MidMajorMadness.com: “Coming into tonight, the Patriot league looked exactly like what it was expected to be pre-season: Lehigh, Bucknell, and everyone else. With one caveat - nobody knew how Lehigh would respond against Bucknell now that they were without McCollum. Tonight came the answer, in the form of strong guard play from B.J. Bailey.”
Also worth noting is that Lehigh was ranked No. 9 in ESPN’s Mid-Major Report on Wednesday and was named the Team of the Week.