Bucknell Remains Perfect in Patriot League Men's Basketball

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Bucknell's Mike Muscala had his third consecutive double-double, and 11th this season, with 21 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday's win over American.
Bucknell's Mike Muscala had his third consecutive double-double, and 11th this season, with 21 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday's win over American.

Jan. 25, 2012

Center Valley, Pa. - Bucknell overcame a rare early deficit and held on down the stretch for a 67-61 win over American on Wednesday, giving the Bison a two-game lead for first place in the Patriot League men's basketball standings.

Bucknell improved to 6-0 in the Patriot League with its 16th straight win against a League opponent. The Bison are two games ahead of second-place American at 4-2, with Lafayette matching the Eagles' mark after pulling off an 82-76 win at Colgate on Wednesday.

It was a historic win for Lafayette Head Coach Fran O'Hanlon, who became the all-time winningest coach in Patriot League annals with 235 victories. O'Hanlon also holds marks for overall (489) and Patriot League (218) games coached.

Army earned a key win to stay in striking distance of the top half of the standings. The Black Knights used two big second-half runs to down Holy Cross 74-68, moving to 3-3 in the Patriot League with the win while dropping the Crusaders to 2-4.

The tie for second place could grow by one team on Thursday, as Lehigh comes into its matchup at home against Navy with a 3-2 League record. The matchup between the Mids and Mountain Hawks will be televised on CBS Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m. from Stabler Arena.

Links to recaps and box scores from Wednesday's games are included below. A synopsis of each contest will be added later in the evening.

at Bucknell 67, American 61
Box Score

Lewisburg, Pa. - Bucknell (16-6, 6-0 Patriot League) used a 35-13 stretch spanning the first and second half to turn a seven-point deficit into a 15-point lead and held on down the stretch for a 67-61 win over American (13-8, 4-2) on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion.

The Bison won their eighth straight game overall, and 16th in a row against a Patriot League opponent. It was their 13th consecutive regular-season League victory, and also their 13th in a row at home against a Patriot League opponent. Bucknell opened up a two-game lead on American and Lafayette for first place in the Patriot League.

Bucknell entered the evening having trailed for a total of only 3:05 in the first five Patriot League games, but the Bison were down by as many as seven points in the first half. Bucknell fought back in the final minutes of the period, closing the first half on a 14-4 run to take a 28-25 lead at the half.

The Bison built on the momentum early in the second half, stretching the lead to 49-34 with 10:40 to play in the game. It was a 21-9 start to the half to give the Bison the 35-13 surge over a span of 14:51. But American would not go away, as the Eagles chipped the lead down to four at 65-61 with 15 seconds to play. Bucknell shut the door from there as Cameron Ayers hit a pair of free throws to seal the 67-61 win.

Mike Muscala, who won the Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week award on Monday, put up another great performance. Muscala had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double, and 11th on the season. Bryson Johnson added 13 points, all in the second half, while Joe Willman scored 11. Bryan Cohen scored seven points to go over 1,000 in his career, and also helped hold American's Charles Hinkle to 12 points on 4-of-11 from the field. Bucknell shot just over 50 percent at 23-of-45 from the field, and also connected on 5-of-11 three-pointers. The Bison held the Eagles under 40 percent from the field and three-point range. Bucknell defeated American for the fifth consecutive time. It was Bucknell's 16th straight regular-season win at home against a Patriot League opponent, and the Bison have won 22 of the last 23 games overall at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell has also won 22 of its last 23 against Patriot League foes.

American saw its three-game win streak come to an end. Daniel Munoz led the way with 16 points, while Hinkle had 12 and Blake Jolivette scored 11. Tony Wroblicky had seven points and nine rebounds as the Eagles held a 31-26 edge on the boards against the top rebounding team in the Patriot League. American made 15-of-18 foul shots, but was just 20-of-53 from the field.

Lafayette 82 at Colgate 76
Box Score

Hamilton, N.Y. - Head Coach Fran O'Hanlon set the Patriot League all-time wins mark with his 235th victory by leading Lafayette (9-12, 4-2) to an 82-76 win at Colgate (6-14, 1-5) on Wednesday at Cotterell Court.

It did not look good early for the Leopards, who fell behind 15-6 just over five minutes into the game. Lafayette climbed back into the game as the teams traded blows throughout the first half, with the Leopards scoring the final six points of the first half to trim Colgate's lead to 42-40 at the break. The Leopards then scored the first six points of the second half, making it a 12-0 run and taking a 46-42 lead with 17:50 left. The score stayed close and Colgate came back to tie it once at 57-57 with 9:45 left before Lafayette went on an 8-2 run to take the lead for good. The Leopards stretched the advantage as high as nine points and used 6-for-8 foul shooting in the final minute to hold on for the 82-76 win.

Lafayette had four players in double figures, led by Ryan Willen with 18 points. Freshmen Joey Ptasinski and Dan Trist added 13 apiece, while Tony Johnson had 10 points and seven assists without a turnover. The hot-shooting Leopards hit 56 percent (28-of-50) from the field and 82 percent (18-of-22) at the foul line. Lafayette improved to 3-0 on the road in Patriot League play this season, and defeated Colgate for the fourth straight time.

Colgate lost despite a very efficient game on offense. The Raiders made 31-of-56 (55%) from the field and finished with 17 assists and just five turnovers. However, Colgate was 7-of-14 at the foul line in the game. Sterling Melville scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, while Brandon James had 15 while making all six of his shots including a trio from three-point range. Nick Pascale added 12 for the Raiders.

at Army 74, Holy Cross 68
Box Score

West Point, N.Y. - Army (10-11, 3-3) used a pair of second-half runs, one to take the lead and another to put the game away, to hold off Holy Cross (8-12, 2-4) for a 74-68 victory on Wednesday at Christl Arena.

The game was close throughout, with the teams trading runs in the first half to conclude with a 33-33 tie at the break. Holy Cross inched ahead 52-46 with 10:37 to play before Army ran off 14 consecutive points to turn the game around and take the lead for good. Jordan Springer scored seven points during the run, including a dunk to put Army ahead for good at 54-52 with 8:43 to play. Julian Simmons capped the run with a three-pointer that made it 60-52 with 7:30 left. Holy Cross fought back, getting back within 63-61 on a three-pointer by Devin Brown with 5:16 to play. Army answered with a three-pointer by Ella Ellis just over a minute later, which started a 10-0 run to give the Black Knights breathing room and a 73-61 lead in the final minute. Holy Cross got as close as five points but Army held on for the 74-68 victory.

Ellis had another outstanding game with 26 points, his 23rd straight double-digit scoring effort. Springer had a career-high 18 points, hitting 6-of-6 from the field and 6-of-8 foul shots. Simmons added 12 to complete Army's double-figure scorers. The Black Knights had a strong shooting night at 24-of-44 (54.5%) from the field, helping them overcome 20 turnovers. Army held a 30-26 edge on the boards and forced 19 turnovers by Holy Cross. The Black Knights won for the third time in the last four games. They defeated Holy Cross at home for the first time since 2002, snapping a nine-game skid against the Crusaders at West Point. Army had lost the last three games overall against Holy Cross.

R.J. Evans led Holy Cross with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and also had a team-high five assists with just one turnover. The Crusaders were hurt by the 19 turnovers as a team on a night where they shot 26-of-59 (44%) from the field. Holy Cross also struggled from beyond the arc, shooting at an 8-for-25 clip from downtown. Devin Brown was the only other player in double figures with 12 points. Holy Cross has dropped four straight games after a 2-0 start in the Patriot League.