Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.24.14

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG Dave Dudzinski and Holy Cross have won three in a row entering Saturday's game at Navy.
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Dave Dudzinski and Holy Cross have won three in a row entering Saturday's game at Navy.
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG

Jan. 24, 2014

Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.24.14 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - After moving into sole possession of first place with a 30-point win over Boston University on Wednesday, American has to face another challenger for the top spot on Saturday when it visits Army at 4 p.m. on Patriot League Network.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*American puts sole possession of first place on the line when it visits Army Saturday at 4 p.m. on Patriot League Network.
*The Eagles improved to 7-0 by beating Boston University 86-56 in a first-place showdown on Wednesday.
*American is one of only nine schools to open 7-0, and is trying to become the sixth to open with eight wins in League play.
*Head Coach Mike Brennan is one of three to open his Patriot League tenure with a 7-0 mark, and first since 1994-95.
*American also goes for its first nine-game overall win streak since claiming 13 in a row in 2009.
*Boston University tries to get back on track as it visits Bucknell on Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
*Jason Knapp and Chris Spatola will call the action from Lewisburg.
*Army is 6-1 after beating Colgate on Wednesday, reaching five games over .500 in League play for the first time.
*Wins by Army and BU on Saturday would create a three-way tie at the top of the Patriot League standings.
*Saturday's schedule also includes Holy Cross at Navy, Colgate at Loyola Maryland and Lafayette at Lehigh.
*All three of those games will tip off at 7 p.m. and be shown on Patriot League Network.

Patriot League Notebook
American Takes Sole Possession of First Place....
Four of the five Patriot League men's basketball games on Wednesday night went down to the wire, but the first-place matchup was the exception as American shot over 70% from the field and three-point range in an 86-56 blowout of Boston University in Washington. The Eagles extend their best Patriot League start to a 7-0 record, becoming one of only nine teams in League history to open with seven wins. American's Mike Brennan is the first head coach since Bucknell's Pat Flannery (1994-95) to begin his Patriot League tenure with seven victories.

...And Puts It on the Line Right Away
American has to defend first place right away, as the Eagles will visit Army with the Black Knights trying to tie for the top spot on Saturday at 4 p.m. on Patriot League Network. Army is five games over .500 for the first time in Patriot League play after winning at Colgate on Wednesday. Boston University visits Bucknell on Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, and the Terriers could also tie for the top spot with a win and an American loss. The rest of Saturday's contests all tip off at 7 p.m. on Patriot League Network with Holy Cross at Navy, Colgate at Loyola Maryland and Lafayette at Lehigh.

More on the Eagles
American is trying to become just the sixth team to open with eight wins in Patriot League play, and first since Bucknell got off to a 10-0 start in 2011-12. Head Coach Mike Brennan goes for rare air as well. He is one of only three coaches to begin his Patriot League tenure with seven wins, and first since Bucknell's Pat Flannery in 1994-95. The only coach to start with more than seven wins was Fordham's Nick Macarchuk who had an 11-0 record to begin the first League season in 1990-91. American has won eight games in a row for the first time since the non-League portion of the schedule in 2011-12, and goes for its first nine-game win streak since claiming 13 straight victories heading into the NCAA Tournament in 2009. The Eagles, who are in their 13th season in the Patriot League, last started 7-0 or better in conference play when they were 11-0 under Gary Williams in the East Coast Conference in 1980-81.

BU Sees Outstanding League-Opening Run Come to an End
Boston University's undefeated Patriot League run ended with a thud on Wednesday, but the Terriers still enjoyed some unique success by opening 6-0. Boston University joined a group of only 14 teams to begin Patriot League play with a 6-0 mark, and had its best start to conference play since opening 6-0 in the America East in 2002-03. Boston University Head Coach Joe Jones joined American's Mike Brennan as the first coaches to open their League tenure with six wins since Lehigh's Billy Taylor in 2002-03. The Terriers entered the week at No. 92 in the NCAA RPI rating and No. 20 in the College Insider.com Mid-Major rankings.

Eagles Post Near-Record Shooting Marks in Win
American has opened 7-0 in the Patriot League behind outstanding shooting, and that was never more evident than Wednesday night. American had the best shooting percentage in the Patriot League this year by making 30-of-42 field goals to shoot 71.4% from the floor, just shy of the Patriot League record of 71.7% and breaking a school record that had held since 1981. American made 11-of-14 three-pointers for a 78.6% clip from long range, the second-highest percentage in the Patriot League this season and also the second-highest of all time in the League. Both the field goal and three-point percentages stand in the top five for a single game in Division I this season. The Eagles made 29-of-36 shots after a 1-of-6 start, and hit 11-of-12 three-pointers after missing the first two. The hot shooting night brings the Eagles to 54.3% from the floor in League play and 50.4% for the season overall, which stands in the top 10 nationally. Both marks lead the Patriot League, and American also tops the League in field-goal percentage defense both overall (40.3%) and in League games (37.9%).

Photo Finishes
While American won big, the other Patriot League contests all came down to the wire on Wednesday. Army moved into a tie for second place after a Dylan Cox putback with 21 seconds to go lifted the Black Knights to a 66-63 win at Colgate. Holy Cross won its third straight by surviving for a 59-58 win at Lafayette when Nick Lindner missed at the buzzer, while Lehigh's Mackey McKnight tied the game late in regulation and won it with 1.1 seconds left in overtime for a 68-66 triumph at Navy. Bucknell had relative ease compared to the other three, closing with an 8-2 run to pull away from a tight game for a 70-60 win over Loyola at home.

Winning on the Road
It was a rare night of road victories in the Patriot League as Army, Holy Cross and Lehigh all eked out wins away from home. While Army's win gives the Black Knights, American and Boston University a combined 10-1 mark in League road games, the other seven teams are just 5-19 on the road even after the wins for the Crusaders and Mountain Hawks. Home teams have a 20-15 edge in League action for the year.

15 Patriot League Contests to Be Shown On CBS Sports Network....
A 15-game schedule for Patriot League men's basketball on CBSSN features seven games in January and an additional five to close the regular season in February-March. The Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship will be televised on CBS Sports Network on March 12 at 7:30 p.m., while CBSSN will also air both semifinal games of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament on March 8.

...And All of the Rest on Patriot League Network
Any game that is not shown on CBS Sports Network will be available with free online web streaming through Patriot League Network. In its first year, PLN has already showcased all men and women's basketball non-League home games in addition to action for all of the fall sports. PLN also has highlights throughout the year and features on teams and individuals and is available nationally at www.patriotleague.tv and to a wide audience through the Campus Insiders platform. Campus Insiders will also produce a handful of broadcasts on PLN this season, with two coming up next week as Bucknell visits Lehigh on Jan. 29 and Holy Cross heads to American on Feb. 1.

Patriot League Games
Boston University Terriers (13-7, 6-1) at Bucknell Bison (9-9, 4-3)
Sojka Pavilion; Lewisburg, Pa. - Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network
*Boston University tries to bounce back from a 30-point loss as it visits Bucknell on Saturday.
*The 2 p.m. contest can be seen on CBS Sports Network with Jason Knapp and Chris Spatola on the call.
*Boston University and Bucknell meet for the first time as League members, but have faced off some in recent seasons.
*The Bison hold a 3-2 lead in an all-time series that began in the 2005-06 season.
*Bucknell won the most recent meeting 75-61 at BU on Dec. 22, 2011.
*The Terriers can climb back into a tie for first place with a win and an American loss at Army.

American Eagles (11-7, 7-0) at Army Black Knights (10-8, 6-1)
Christl Arena; West Point, N.Y. - Saturday, 4 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network
*After a win in a first-place showdown on Wednesday, American faces another as it visits Army on Saturday.
*American is 7-0 in League play for the first time, while Army is five games over .500 for the first time in the Patriot League.
*American holds a 24-6 lead in the all-time series, but Army dominated all three matchups last season.
*The Black Knights won 77-64 win at home on Jan. 26 and 72-58 at American on Feb. 23 in the regular season.
*Army also beat American 65-44 at home in the Patriot League quarterfinals on March 6.
*American had won the previous six meetings before Army's sweep of the three games last year.
*The Eagles are trying to become just the sixth team to start Patriot League play with eight wins.
*American's Mike Brennan aims to become just the second coach to start his League tenure at 8-0.

Holy Cross Crusaders (10-9, 4-3) at Navy Midshipmen (7-11, 2-5)
Alumni Hall; Annapolis, Md. - Saturday, 7 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network
*Holy Cross goes for its fourth win in a row when it visits Navy on Saturday evening.
*The Crusaders have won two straight road contests as part of their three-game winning streak.
*Navy holds a 6-2 record at home, but has dropped two of the last three at Alumni Hall.
*Holy Cross has won six in a row and eight of nine against the Mids after sweeping last year's matchups.
*The Crusaders won 62-47 at Navy on Jan. 16 and 66-57 at home on Feb. 12 to sweep Navy for the third year in a row.
*Holy Cross has not been two games over .500 in League play since finishing 9-5 in 2012.
*That was also the last four-game win streak in League action for the Crusaders, who closed with six straight wins.

Colgate Raiders (7-11, 1-6) at Loyola Md Greyhounds (8-10, 3-4)
Reitz Arena; Baltimore, Md. - Saturday, 7 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network
*Colgate and Loyola each try to bounce back from losses when they meet at Reitz Arena on Saturday night.
*Loyola is 3-0 at home in Patriot League play, while Colgate is 0-3 on the road in League action.
*The teams are tied 1-1 in the all-time series as they meet for the first time since 1983-84.
*Loyola won the first meeting in 1974-75 and Colgate the latter in 1983-84, with both played at neutral sites.
*Colgate is playing two road games in three days as the Raiders visit Lafayette on Monday on CBS Sports Network.

Lafayette Leopards (4-14, 0-7) at Lehigh Mountain Hawks (9-11, 2-5)
Stabler Arena; Bethlehem, Pa. - Saturday, 7 p.m.
Coverage: Patriot League Network | Service Electric 2 Sports
*Lafayette and Lehigh renew their rivalry when they face off at Stabler Arena on Saturday night.
*The teams are both looking to get on track in League play after success for the past four seasons.
*Lafayette won all three matchups last year, including an 82-69 win in the League Tournament semifinals on March 9.
*The Leopards also won 78-57 in Bethlehem on Jan. 27 and 79-71 at home on Feb. 24 in the regular season.
*Lehigh had won the previous five meetings starting with the 2010 Patriot League Championship.
*The Leopards try to snap a nine-game losing skid, while the Mountain Hawks go for their first winning streak in League play.

Team Notebooks
AMERICAN American turned a battle for first place in the Patriot League into a laugher with an 86-56 triumph over Boston University on Wednesday at Bender Arena...The Eagles have their best start in Patriot League play at 7-0, and become just the ninth team to open with at least seven victories...American actually trailed 13-2 in the early going, but used 12-0 and 8-0 runs to build a 37-27 lead at the half and a 12-3 stretch to break it open early in the second half...American had the best shooting percentage in the Patriot League this year by making 30-of-42 field goals...The Eagles shot 71.4% from the floor, just shy of the Patriot League record of 71.7% and breaking a school record that had held since 1981...American made 11-of-14 three-pointers for a 78.6% clip from long range, the second-highest percentage in the Patriot League this season and also the second-highest of all time in the League...Both the field goal and three-point percentage stand in the top five for a single game in Division I this season...The Eagles made 29-of-36 shots after a 1-of-6 start, and hit 11-of-12 three-pointers after missing the first two....Five players scored in double figures for American, led by Jesse Reed with 20...The Eagles also did the job defensively, holding the Terriers to 16-of-50 (32.0%) from the field and 4-of-16 from three-point range while putting up a 31-21 rebounding advantage...American has its longest winning streak since 2011 at eight in a row, and tries to hit nine straight when it visits Army in another first-place showdown on Saturday...The Eagles last won nine in a row when they claimed 13 straight victories heading into the NCAA Tournament in 2009.

ARMY Dylan Cox scored on a putback of his own miss with 21 seconds left to give Army the lead and the Black Knights held on for a 66-63 win at Colgate on Wednesday...Damon Sherman-Newsome missed a layup on the other end with five seconds left, and Kyle Wilson hit a pair of free throws to seal the three-point win for Army...The Black Knights go five games over .500 in the Patriot League for the first time...Josh Herbeck led Army with 16 points, while Wilson added 15 and Cox had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds...Army made 12-of-20 shots and 5-of-7 three-pointers in the second half after a cold-shooting first half...The Black Knights held a 36-26 edge on the boards and limited Colgate to 8-of-26 shooting from three-point range...Army won at Colgate for the third time in the last four years...The Black Knights play for first place in the Patriot League when they host American on Saturday afternoon.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY The Terriers were dealt their first Patriot League loss as they fell to American 86-56 in a matchup for first place on Wednesday in Washington...BU opened the game with a 13-2 lead, but American dominated from that point to go up 37-27 at halftime and extend the lead throughout the second half...BU shot just 16-of-50 (32.0%) from the field and 4-of-16 from three-point range and was outrebounded 31-21 while allowing the Eagles to hit over 70% of their shots both overall and from three-point range... Maurice Watson Jr. led the Terriers with 15 points, while D.J. Irving added 10...BU's six-game winning streak came to an end, and the Terriers will have to go on the road to start another one when they visit Bucknell on Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

BUCKNELL Bucknell made 27-of-34 free throws and pulled away down the stretch for a 70-60 win over Loyola Maryland on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion...The Bison improve to 4-3 in the Patriot League and snapped a two-game losing skid...Loyola went ahead by five early in the second half with a 10-0 run, but Bucknell used an 11-4 run to re-claim the lead and then followed a Loyola three-pointer with an 8-2 stretch to go ahead for good...The game stayed tight until Bucknell closed with an 8-2 run in the final 1:20 to pull away for the 10-point win...Cameron Ayers led the Bison with 19 points and was a perfect 10-of-10 at the foul line, while Ben Brackney scored 14 points and Brian Fitzpatrick added 12...The Bison held Loyola to 4-of-18 three-point shooting to overcome their own 5-of-18 mark from long range...Bucknell beat Loyola for the second straight time as the teams met for the fifth straight season...The Bison host another new member, Boston University, on Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

COLGATE Colgate rallied to take a lead in the final minute, but Army scored the last four points to come away with a 66-63 victory in Hamilton on Wednesday... Colgate had used an 8-0 run to take a 63-62 lead on a pair of free throws by Austin Tillotson with 36 seconds to play...Army went back ahead 15 seconds later, and Damon Sherman-Newsome missed a shot for the lead for the Raiders with five seconds to play...Ethan Jacobs led the Raiders with a career-high 22 points and hit 5-of-9 three-pointers, but the rest of the team made just 3-of-17 from long range... Sherman-Newsome and Murphy Burnatowski each added 11 points for Colgate, which lost at home to Army for the third time in the last four seasons...Colgate has two road games in three days ahead, visiting Loyola Maryland on Saturday and Lafayette on Monday.

HOLY CROSS Lafayette's Nick Lindner missed a shot in the final seconds as Holy Cross held on for a 59-58 win over the Leopards on Wednesday in Easton...The Crusaders have won three straight and are over .500 in League play for the first time at 4-3...Holy Cross led 52-43 with six minutes left, but Lafayette used a 13-4 run to tie the score at 56-56 with 1:13 to play...Eric Green made a free throw with 54 seconds to go for a 57-56 edge, and Justin Burrell hit a pair at the line for a 59-56 lead with 19 seconds left...Lafayette got within one on a pair of free throws by Bryce Scott with 11 seconds to go, and had the chance to win after Anthony Thompson missed the front end of a 1-and-1...Burrell led Holy Cross with 15 points, while Malcolm Miller added 10...Holy Cross shot just 20-of-50 from the field and 7-of-21 from three-point range, but hit 12-of-16 at the free throw line...The Crusaders limited Lafayette to just 4-of-13 from three-point range and held a 33-25 edge on the boards...Holy Cross beat Lafayette for the first time since 2012, ending a four-game run for the Leopards in the series...The Crusaders play their fifth Patriot League road game when they visit Navy on Saturday night.

LAFAYETTE Lafayette had a chance down the stretch for the second game in a row, but Nick Lindner missed a shot in the final seconds and the Leopards fell 59-58 at home against Holy Cross on Wednesday...Lafayette had used a 13-4 run to tie the score at 56-56 with 1:13 to play before Holy Cross hit three free throws to go ahead...Bryce Scott hit a pair of free throws to bring it to a one-point deficit with 11 seconds to go, and Holy Cross missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up the final chance...Lindner had 13 to lead the Leopards, while Joey Ptasinski and Dan Trist each added 10...A 14-for-14 night at the free throw line helped keep Lafayette close, and the Leopards turned it over only seven times...Lafayette was just 4-of-13 from three-point range...The Leopards go for their first League win when they visit rival Lehigh on Saturday night.

LEHIGH Mackey McKnight hit a tying layup in regulation and then won it with 1.1 seconds left in overtime to lift Lehigh to a 68-66 win at Navy on Wednesday...McKnight tied the score with 18 seconds to play in regulation after Lehigh had climbed back into the game after trailing by eight midway through the period...Lehigh scored four straight points in overtime for a 66-63 lead, but Navy tied it on a three-pointer by Zach Fong with 22 seconds left...Following McKnight's basket, Jesse Chuku blocked a three-point attempt by Fong as Navy was going for the win...Chuku also blocked Brandon Venturini's attempt to win it in the final seconds of regulation for the Mids....Four players in double figures for Lehigh included Tim Kempton (15), Stefan Cvrklaj (14), Justin Goldsborough (13) and McKnight (11)....McKnight also dished out six assists to become the second Mountain Hawk and fifth Patriot Leaguer to reach 500 for a career....Lehigh shot an even 50% (23-of-46) from the field and hit 17-of-22 free throws...Lehigh put an end to a five-game losing streak, and both of its Patriot League victories have come in overtime....The Mountain Hawks beat the Mids for the eighth straight time...They try to make it a winning streak when they host rival Lafayette on Saturday night.

LOYOLA MARYLAND Loyola took a lead early in the second half, but could not come back down the stretch as Bucknell scored a 70-60 win at home on Wednesday...The Greyhounds had a 10-0 run early in the second half for a 38-33 lead, but Bucknell used a 19-9 stretch to re-gain a five-point edge...Loyola stayed within striking distance until the Bison closed with an 8-2 run for the 10-point win...Dylon Cormier led Loyola with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while Jarred Jones had 13 points off the bench and shot 6-of-11...The rest of the Greyhounds shot just 11-of-36 from the field, and as a team Loyola was just 8-of-16 at the free throw line and 4-of-18 from three-point range...Loyola fell to Bucknell for the second year in a row, and has dropped all four of its Patriot League road trips...The Greyhounds are 3-0 in League action at home, which is where they will be to take on Colgate on Saturday night.

NAVY Navy had chances to win at the end of regulation and overtime, but the Mids were dealt a tough 68-66 loss to Lehigh on Wednesday...Lehigh tied it with 18 seconds to go in regulation, and Brandon Venturini's shot to win was blocked in the final seconds...The Mids tied the score at 66-66 with 22 seconds left in the overtime on a three-pointer by Zach Fong, only to see Lehigh's Mackey McKnight put in a layup with 1.1 seconds left for the win...Fong's three-point attempt was blocked as time expired and Navy lost to Lehigh for the eighth straight time... Navy was just 22-of-68 (32.4%) from the field and fell despite committing only seven turnovers and forcing 16 by the Mountain Hawks...Worth Smith led Navy with a career-high 26 points, while Grant Vermeer (13), Fong (10) and Venturini (10) also scored in double figures...Navy fell to 6-2 at home this season, but can get right back in the win column when it welcomes Holy Cross on Saturday night.