Brian Ehlers scored 16 points and Tim Bieg and Tyson Whitfield added 15 apiece to help Lafayette defeat Bucknell 67-63 for its first Patriot League championship Friday night.
Lafayette (22-7) advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1957, ending the nation's second-longest drought behind that of Harvard (1946). Bucknell (16-13) was also seeking its first Patriot League title as well as its first berth to the NCAA since 1989.
Tom Bowen paced Bucknell with a game-high 19 points and Jake Ramage had 14. Bucknell entered the game with 12 wins in its last 14 games.
Lafayette built its biggest lead of the second half at 63-54 on Ted Cole's tip-in with 3:57 left to cap a 11-2 run.
Bucknell drew to 63-58 on consecutive inside baskets by Bowen, and Valter Karavanic hit a 3-pointer to help the Bisons close to 63-61 with 21.5 seconds left.
But Bieg hit two free throws with 20.6 seconds left and Frank Barr blocked a layup attempt by Willie Callahan.
Ehlers, who had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, followed with a pair of free throws with 12.4 seconds left to give Lafayette a 67-61 lead. Bowen hit a jumper in the final seconds.
Lafayette shot just 32 percent from the field in the opening period but managed a 28-26 halftime advantage.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed