Bucknell, American, Army Post Wins in Patriot League Men's Basketball

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Mike Muscala led Bucknell to a 68-61 win at Lehigh with 20 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday.
Mike Muscala led Bucknell to a 68-61 win at Lehigh with 20 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday.

Jan. 18, 2012

Center Valley, Pa. - Defending champion Bucknell passed another tough test while American and Army also recorded victories in Wednesday's Patriot League men's basketball contests.

The Bison went to Lehigh and held off the Mountain Hawks throughout the second half for a 68-61 win, Bucknell's 14th in a row against a Patriot League opponent and 11th straight regular-season League win. Mike Muscala led the Bison with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year.

American remained one game behind Bucknell in the standings, building a 25-point lead and holding off a comeback effort by Navy for a 67-60 win in Annapolis.

Army set a school record with 16 three-pointers as it overcame a double-digit first-half deficit to roll past Colgate 91-75 at West Point.

Bucknell maintains the lead in the Patriot League race at 4-0, while American is one game behind the Bison at 3-1. Either Lafayette or Holy Cross will join the Eagles in second place, as the Leopards visit the Crusaders on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a game that can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

Links to recaps and box scores from Wednesday's games are included below, along with a synopsis of each contest.

Bucknell 68 at Lehigh 61
Box Score

Bethlehem, Pa. - Bucknell (14-6, 4-0) had an answer for every Lehigh (14-6, 2-2) run and scored the final five points at the line to hold off the Mountain Hawks 68-61 in a matchup of the past two Patriot League champions on Wednesday at Stabler Arena.

The defending champion Bison have won 14 straight games against Patriot League foes, and 11 consecutive regular-season League contests. It was their sixth consecutive League road win in that stretch, including a 3-0 mark this season. Bucknell won its sixth game in a row overall and fifth straight on the road.

The Bison once again led for nearly the entire contest, trailing just three times for a total of 1:30 in the game. Bucknell opened up a 10-point lead in the first half with a 13-2 run, and took a 38-34 advantage into the break. Lehigh used a 10-2 run to build a 44-43 advantage early in the second half, but the Bison responded with a 12-3 run of their own to take the lead back for good.

While Bucknell led the rest of the way, Lehigh stayed close throughout. The Mountain Hawks answered Bucknell's run with a 7-0 spurt to get within 55-54. Mike Muscala and Cameron Ayers each hit three-pointers to push the lead back to four, and Muscala added a jumper that gave the Bison a 63-59 edge with 3:04 left. Lehigh got back within 63-61 and had a chance to take the lead, but Holden Greiner's three-pointer was off the mark with just over a minute to play. Joe Willman made a free throw to boost the lead to 64-61, and C.J. McCollum missed a three-pointer to tie for the Mountain Hawks. Ayers and Muscala each connected on a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to ice the win for the Bison.

Muscala finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Ayers added 13, while Bryan Cohen scored 12 and Willman finished with 11. Ayers, Muscala and Cohen combined to make 8-of-11 three-point attempts. Ryan Hill chipped in with four points, five assists and six rebounds. The Bison made 20-of-23 free throws while shooting just under 40 percent overall at 20-of-51. They had 17 assists on their 20 field goals and committed only eight turnovers. Bucknell limited Lehigh to just 21-of-59 (35.6%) from the field and 7-of-24 (29.2%) from three-point range and became the first team this season to hold the Mountain Hawks under 70 points. Bucknell won its fourth straight game against Lehigh, and starts 4-0 in the Patriot League for the second year in a row.

McCollum led the Mountain Hawks with 14 points and a career-high nine assists, but was limited to 5-of-15 shooting by the Bison. John Adams was the only other Mountain Hawk in double figures with 10 points. Lehigh's five starters went 14-of-46 from the field as the team scored 17 points below its average for the season. The Mountain Hawks outrebounded the Bison, the top rebounding team in the Patriot League, 38-33. Lehigh suffered its first home loss of the year.

American 67 at Navy 60
Box Score

Annapolis, Md. - American (12-7, 3-1) built a 25-point second-half lead and held on down the stretch for a 67-60 win at Navy (3-15, 0-4) on Wednesday at Alumni Hall.

The Eagles appeared to be on their way to an easy victory, as they took the lead for good eight minutes into the contest and built a 38-22 advantage at the break. American opened the second half with an 11-2 run to stretch the lead to 49-24, but Navy began to claw back from there. The Mids scored 11 straight points to get back within single digits at 55-47 with 4:44 to go, and came as close as four points when J.J. Avila's layup made it 62-58 with 1:15 to go. American stepped up to seal the win at the foul line in the final minute, as Daniel Munoz made all four of his free-throw attempts and American held on for the seven-point win.

Charles Hinkle had his second consecutive double-double with identical numbers of 17 points and 10 rebounds as he posted in Saturday's win over Holy Cross. Munoz added 13 points and seven assists for the Eagles, while Troy Brewer scored 11. American had a solid shooting night, making 21-of-41 (51.2%) from the field, 10-of-15 (66.7%) from three-point range and 15-of-19 (78.9%) at the foul line. The Eagles limited Navy to 4-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc. American beat Navy for the seventh time in the last eight meetings, and starts 3-1 in the Patriot League for the second year in a row.

Navy's struggles continued as the Mids lost their 11th consecutive game and start 0-4 in the Patriot League for the second year in a row. Avila continued his outstanding play with 24 points, six steals and four rebounds. It was his third straight 20-point game and second in a row with six steals. Jordan Sugars finished with 11 and Brandon Venturini scored 10. Navy committed only nine turnovers, but struggled from three-point range and was 22-of-52 (42.3%) overall from the field.

at Army 91, Colgate 75
Box Score

West Point, N.Y. - Army (9-10, 2-2) made a school record 16 three-pointers to overcome a double-digit deficit and pull away from Colgate (5-13, 0-4) for a 91-75 victory on Wednesday at Christl Arena.

The Black Knights trailed 45-32 with less than four minutes to play in the first half before they took over the game with the barrage from long range. Army scored the final nine points of the first half to get within 45-41 at the break, and surged ahead with 13 consecutive points early in the second half for a 62-51 advantage with 12:54 to go. Colgate got back to within five points two minutes later, but Army responded with a 9-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way in the 16-point victory.

Army was lights out from three-point range by hitting at a 16-of-29 (55.2%) clip, making 8-of-12 in the 50-point second half. The Black Knights have hit 29-of-52 three-pointers in the past two games, both victories. Julian Simmons went 8-of-10 from three-point range for 24 points, connecting on a career high from beyond the arc and finishing just one off the school record. Ella Ellis had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Josh Herbeck went 5-of-8 from three-point range and finished with 15 points and four assists. Freshmen Maxwell Lenox and Milton Washington each added 11 points. Army dished out 23 assists with just nine turnovers in the game, and made 33-of-62 shots (53.2%) in the game. The Black Knights forced 17 Colgate turnovers. Army has won consecutive League contests for the first time since 2009.

The Raiders had three players in double figures, as Mike Venezia finished with 16 points, Pat Moore had 15 and Mitch Rolls scored 14. The trio combined to make 18-of-31 shots and 9-of-17 from three-point range. Colgate was over 50 percent shooting at 30-of-58 for the game, but could not overcome Army's hot hand. The Raides fell to 0-4 in the Patriot League for the first time.