CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Bucknell appeared headed for its second loss in Patriot League play, but the Bison rallied in the final two minutes by scoring the last eight points and winning 56-55 on a putback by Mike Muscala with 0.8 seconds left.
Bucknell improves to 5-1 in the Patrot League with the victory, keeping pace with Lehigh for first place in the standings. The Mountain Hawks had an easier time on Wednesday with a 71-49 victory at Navy.
Two other teams strengthened their positioning with impressive wins on Wednesday. Lafayette put on another defensive clinic to win its third straight game with a 69-40 triumph over Colgate, keeping the Leopards in sole possession of third place with a 4-2 League mark. Army emerged from the pack tied for fourth place and now holds the position by itself after winning 80-66 at Holy Cross to move to 3-3 in League action.
Following the top four, Holy Cross, American and Colgate all fell to 2-4 in League action with their losses on Wednesday, and Navy dropped to 1-5. The home/road split is now 12-12 in League play after every winner but Lafayette claimed victory on the road Wednesday.
The first half of the Patriot League schedule comes to a close over the weekend. On Saturday, Lafayette goes to American, Holy Cross is at Colgate and Bucknell welcomes Navy. Lehigh heads to Army on Super Bowl Sunday. Each game will be available through Patriot League All-Access.
Recaps and box scores from Wednesday's game are included below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bucknell (18-4, 5-1 Patriot League) finished on an 8-0 run and won with less than a second to go on a putback by Mike Muscala to escape with a 56-55 win over American (7-14, 2-4) on Wednesday at Bender Arena.
The Bison beat the Eagles for the seventh consecutive meeting, and fourth in a row at Bender Arena. Bucknell improves to 9-3 on the road this season, tying Stony Brook for the most road victories in the nation.
Neither team created much separation in the first half, with Bucknell going up by as many as five before taking a 28-27 lead into intermission. American opened the second half on a 12-4 run to grab a 39-32 advantage, and later used an 11-3 surge to break a tie score and take its biggest lead of the day at 52-44 with 5:54 to go. A long three-pointer by Daniel Munoz gave the Eagles a 55-48 with 2:16 to play, but from there it was all Bucknell. The Bison trimmed the gap to 55-52 with 35 seconds left, and American missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to allow Bucknell to get within 55-54 on a putback by Muscala with 21 seconds to go. Munoz missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 19 seconds left to set up Bucknell's final possession. Muscala had a shot blocked which went out of bounds with five seconds to play, then was off on another shot before grabbing the rebound and putting in the game-winning with 0.8 seconds to go.
Muscala had 16 points and 14 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year, which leads all Division I players. He also led the team with four assists and three blocks, though he did endure a tough shooting night at 6-of-18 from the field and 4-of-10 at the foul line. Cameron Ayers also finished in double figures for the Bison with 14 points. Bucknell overcame an uncharacteristic shooting effort, as the Bison were just 1-of-10 from three-point range and 11-of-24 at the foul line. The Bison improved to 3-0 on the road this season, and have won 12 of their last 13 Patriot League road games. Bucknell has won 30 of 34 Patriot League games overall since the start of the 2011 season.
Munoz led the Eagles with 13 points, while Stephen Lumpkins finished with 12 and Blake Jolivette scored 10. American made 47.8% of its shots at 22-of-46 for the game, and went 4-of-9 from three-point range and 7-of-13 at the foul line. American falls under .500 through six League games for the first time since 2007.
It was the fourth straight time and sixth in the last eight meetings between the schools where the outcome was decided by six points or less.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Lehigh (15-5, 5-1 Patriot League) rebounded from its loss to rival Lafayette on Sunday by putting on a defensive clinic in a 71-49 victory at Navy (7-15, 1-5) on Wednesday at Alumni Hall.
The Mountain Hawks limited the Mids to 28.8% (19-of-66) from the field and just 3-of-23 from three-point range in the game. Lehigh won its sixth straight game against the Mids, and improved to 5-1 in the Patriot League for the first time since 2006.
Navy actually had the advantage early with an 8-1 lead less than four minutes into the contest, but Lehigh took over from there. The Mountain Hawks went on a 14-0 run and held Navy scoreless for nearly nine minutes to take control of the game. Lehigh only allowed Navy to score 10 points in the final 16 minutes of the first half as the Mountain Hawks took a 28-18 lead into the break after closing the period on a 10-2 run over the last three minutes.
It was an eight-point game early in the second half before Lehigh put together a 14-1 run to take control for good and build a 49-28 lead with 11:45 to play. The Mountain Hawks were up by at least 17 points the rest of the way before settling on the 71-49 final.
Stefan Cvrklaj had the biggest game of his career for the Mountain Hawks, making 6-of-11 shots and 5-of-9 three-pointers to finish with a career-high 18 points. Holden Greiner put up a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while B.J. Bailey also added 10. Mackey McKnight filled the stat sheet with seven points, nine rebounds, seven assists. Lehigh shot 46.3% for the game at 25-of-54, and heated up with a 14-of-25 clip after halftime. Lehigh held a 45-37 edge on the boards as part of its big defensive effort.
Will Kelly had his first-career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Mids, while Worth Smith also added 11 and Phil Guglielmo scored 10. Navy fell for the eighth time in the last nine games.
EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette (11-12, 4-2) continued its roll, especially on the defensive end, with a resounding 69-40 victory over Colgate (8-14, 2-4) on Wednesday at Kirby Sports Center.
Lafayette defeated Colgate for the sixth straight time, and won its third consecutive game overall. It is Lafayette's first three-game Patriot League win streak since 2010. The Leopards are at 4-2 in the Patriot League for the second year in a row.
The Leopards trailed only briefly early in the first half, then took over the game in the final eight minutes of the period. Lafayette closed the first half on a 15-0 run to break open a close game and take a 35-17 lead at the half.
Lafayette extended it to a 20-0 run by scoring the first five points of the second half to take a 40-17 lead. Colgate got back to within 45-30 before Lafayette put the game away with a 24-4 stretch and went on to the 69-40 win.
Seth Hinrichs led the Leopards with 24 points, making 8-of-10 shots and 5-of-7 three-pointers for an outstanding shooting effort. Dan Trist and Joey Ptasinski added 12 points each, while Tony Johnson led the team with eight assists. Lafayette shot an even 50% at 25-of-50 in the game, and limited the Raiders to 30% at 15-of-50 from the field. Lafayette also shot 10-of-22 from three-piont range and held the Raiders to 3-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Matt McMullen came off the bench to lead the Raiders with 10 points and seven rebounds. Reigning Patriot League Player of the Week Murphy Burnatowski was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the game. Colgate saw its two-game win streak come to an end and is under .500 through six League games for the seventh year in a row.
WORCESTER, Mass. - Ella Ellis scored 23 points and Kyle Wilson added 21 as Army (10-11, 3-3) held on late for an 80-66 win at Holy Cross (10-11, 2-4) on Wednesday at the Hart Center.
Army won its second straight game, and improved to .500 through six Patriot League games for the second year in a row. Holy Cross lost its third game in a row and dropped to 2-4 in the Patriot League for the second straight season.
Holy Cross led by seven points midway through the first half, but Army took the lead for good with a 15-5 run late in the period and held a 38-34 lead at the half. The Black Knights held a single-digit lead throughout the second half, and were up 68-64 with 4:03 to play in the game. Army finished the game with a 12-2 run from there to pull away late for the 80-66 victory.
Ellis made all 11 of his free throws in his 23-point night, and also pulled down six rebounds. Wilson had his third-straight 20-point game with 8-of-15 shooting and 3-of-6 from three-point line, while Larry Toomey added 12 points and Kyle Toth scored 10. Army was a perfect 17-of-17 at the foul line and hit 44.3% of its shots from the field at 27-of-61. It was the fifth-best free-throw shooting performance in Patriot League history. Army had a 37-26 edge on the boards, and had 16 assists with just 11 turnovers.
Justin Burrell led Holy Cross with 14 points, while Phil Beans had 13 and Dave Dudzinski scored 12. Burrell also led the way with six assists. Holy Cross shot 16-of-17 at the foul line, while making 21-of-49 (42.9%) of its shots from the field.