Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 2.1.13

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Army's Ella Ellis
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG
Army's Ella Ellis
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

Feb. 1, 2013

Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 2.1.13 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- The first half of the Patriot League schedule comes to an end this weekend, with the top two teams living up to expectations so far and two others trying to break away from the pack of contenders.

Lehigh and Bucknell each improved to 5-1 in the Patriot League by winning on the road on Wednesday. The Mountain Hawks did it the easy way with a 71-49 triumph at Navy, while the Bison had to rally with the final eight points for a 56-55 victory at American. Bucknell won with 0.8 seconds left on a putback by Mike Muscala.

Breathing right down the necks of the first-place teams is Lafayette, which claimed its third straight win and improved to 4-2 in the Patriot League with a 69-40 thumping of Colgate. Lafayette has its first three-game League win streak since 2010.

Four teams went into Wednesday's action tied for fourth place, and Army emerged from the group with an 80-66 triumph at Colgate. The Black Knights moved to 3-3 in the Patriot League, and on Sunday have a chance to go over .500 at the halfway point of League play for the first time.

On Saturday, Lafayette is at American (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic) and Holy Cross goes to Colgate at 2 p.m., while Navy visits Bucknell in a 7 p.m. tip-off. The first half of League play concludes on Super Bowl Sunday when Lehigh heads to Army for a 1 p.m. game.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*The Patriot League schedule hits the halfway point this weekend.
*Lehigh is trying to get to 6-1 in League play for the first time since 2006.
*Bucknell tries to do it for the third year in a row as the Bison have been 6-1 and 7-0 at the halfway point the last two seasons.
*Lafayette shoots for its fourth straight Patriot League win and a 5-2 mark at midseason, which both last happened in 2010.
*Army needs a win over Lehigh to get over .500 midway through League play for the first time.
*Bucknell is tied for the national lead with nine road victories.
*Lehigh is tied for fifth in the country with seven road wins.
*Only three teams in the last six years have come from outside of fourth place at midseason to host a game in the Patriot League quarterfinals.
*The home/road split in Patriot League play is an even 12-12.
*Road teams have won six of the eight Patriot League games in the last week.
*Every team has won at least once on the road in League action, with Bucknell and Lehigh both at 3-0.
*Bucknell's Mike Muscala is in the top 20 nationally in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and No. 1 in player efficiency rating on ESPN.com.
*The League's seven top scorers all stand 6-foot-7 or taller.
*Muscala and classmate Bryson Johnson were each named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team on Thursday.

Patriot League Notebook

Top Four Try to Build Success at the Break
Being in the top four of the Patriot League carries with it a home game in the quarterfinals of the League Tournament on March 6, and the squads in that location right now hope to get closer to that goal and close out the first half strong this weekend. Bucknell aims to go at least 6-1 at the halfway point for the third year in a row after holding marks of 6-1 and 7-0 in the past two seasons. Lafayette aims for its first 5-2 mark at the midway point since 2010, and third in the past six years. When Lehigh plays Army on Sunday, longer droughts of midseason success will be on the line. Lehigh has not been 6-1 through seven League games since opening 11-1 in 2006, while Army has never been over .500 at the midway point of the League schedule.

Bad News for the Bottom Squads
For the seventh straight season, the Patriot League Tournament will be played entirely at home sites beginning with the quarterfinal round on March 6. For the past six years, very few schools have come from outside of fourth place at the midway point of the League schedule to jump up and earn a home game in the League Tournament. Of the 24 teams who have hosted quarterfinal games since 2007, only three were below fourth place through seven Patriot League games. Holy Cross (2012), Colgate (2008) and Navy (2008) each made the jump up from a 3-4 record and tie for fifth place to finish in the top four. Holy Cross, Colgate and American hope to avoid the task with a win and an Army loss to tie for fourth place this weekend.

Kings of the Road
Bucknell tied for the national lead with its ninth road victory of the season when it defeated American 56-55 on Wednesday. The Bison match Stony Brook with nine true road wins this season, while Bucknell has the national lead with 11 road/neutral victories. Lehigh is not far behind, as the Mountain Hawks are tied with 10 other teams for fifth-place in the country with seven road victories. The Mountain Hawks play their next two games on the road, while the Bison hit the road again on Feb. 9 at Army.

Road Success Carries to Patriot League Play
Bucknell and Lehigh have continued to find success away from home in Patriot League action with each team sporting a 3-0 road record in League play. But they are not the only ones doing well away from home in League play. The home/road split is an even 12-12 in League action, and road teams have won six of the last eight games. Every team has won on the road in League play after Army topped Holy Cross 80-66 on Wednesday. The road play has come as a bit of a surpise after Patriot League teams posted a combined record of 34-12 (.739) at home during non-League action.

Doing it with Defense
Lafayette has its first three-game Patriot League win streak since 2010, and the Leopards have a stout defense leading the way. Lafayette is second in the Patriot League with 56.7 points per game allowed in League play, and have turned it on during the win streak with just 50.0 points allowed through the last three games. Lafayette limited Colgate to 40 points on Wednesday, the lowest output in a Patriot League game since American beat Army 58-36 on Feb. 18, 2009. During the run the Leopards have lowered their overall points per game allowed for the season from 73.1 to 70.0. They are following in the mold of the top two teams in the League, with Lehigh leading the way with 56.3 points per game allowed in League action and Bucknell just behind the Mountain Hawks and Leopards at 57.2 given up in League play.

Big Men Leading the Way in Patriot League
Each of the League's top seven scorers stand at 6-foot-7 or taller, led by Bucknell's Mike Muscala topping the charts in scoring (19.4 ppg), rebounding (11.1) and blocked shots (2.9). He ranks in the top 20 nationally in all three categories with a spot in fourth place in rebouning. He also remains the most efficient player in the nation according to the ratings on ESPN.com. Following Muscala on the scoring charts is Colgate's Murphy Burnatowski (17.3 ppg), Army's Ella Ellis (16.9), Holy Cross' Dave Dudzinski (15.9), American's Stephen Lumpkins (15.0), Lafayette's Seth Hinrichs (14.6) and Lehighs' Gabe Knutson (13.1).

Muscala, Johnson Named to Capital One Academic All-District Team
Bucknell seniors Bryson Johnson and Mike Muscala grabbed two of the five spots on the Capital One Academic All-District 2 Men's Basketball Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Thursday. Johnson and Muscala both garnered their second career all-district citations, and both are now eligible for the national Academic All-America ballot.

Patriot League All-Access Has You Covered
Patriot League fans will want to pick up their new monthly subscription to All-Access, which will feature 24 men's games in the month of February. All games except those shown on CBS Sports Network will be carried on All-Access.

Patriot League Games

Lafayette Leopards (11-12, 4-2) at American Eagles (7-14, 2-4)
Bender Arena; Washington, D.C.; Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
*Lafayette goes for its first four-game Patriot League win streak since 2010 when it visits American Saturday.
*Lafayette won its first four League contests in 2010, and had not won three in a row since until beating Colgate Wednesday.
*The Leopards will have to do it against a team and in a venue that has given them troubles over the years.
*American swept last year's season series, beating the Leopards 69-61 in Easton on Jan. 28 and 76-69 at home on Feb. 25.
*The Eagles have won 16 of the past 17 matchups dating back to 2006 against Lafayette.
*Lafayette's lone win during the stretch was a memorable one as the Leopards pulled out a 73-71 double overtime victory at American in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals in 2011.
*The Eagles have not lost a regular-season game to Lafayette since 2005.
*Lafayette's last three wins over American have come in overtime, as the last time the Leopards beat the Eagles in regulation came in 2003.
*Lafayette is trying to get to 5-2 at the midway point of the League schedule for the third time in six years.
*American has never been worse than 3-4 halfway through the Patriot League schedule.

Holy Cross Crusaders (10-11, 2-4) at Colgate Raiders (8-14, 2-4)
Cotterell Court; Hamilton, N.Y.; Saturday, 2 p.m.
*A pair of fifth-place teams meet up in Hamilton when Holy Cross pays a visit to Colgate on Saturday.
*Holy Cross has won the last three games against the Raiders, including a sweep of last year's season series.
*The Crusaders won 76-60 at home on Jan. 28 before posting a 65-58 win in the regular-season finale at Colgate on Feb. 25.
*Colgate had won the three previous meetings, including a sweep of the season series in 2010.
*Holy Cross has won the last two and three of the past four matchups in Hamilton.
*The Crusaders have a 53-19 lead in the all-time seriers, and 31-17 as Patriot League members.
*Colgate is trying for its best record midway through the League schedule since also going 3-4 in 2008.
*Holy Cross has been at 3-4 at the halfway point in each of the last two years.

Navy Midshipmen (7-15, 1-5) at Bucknell Bison (18-4, 5-1)
Sojka Pavilion; Lewisburg, Pa.; Saturday, 7 p.m.
*Bucknell tries to win at least six games midway through League play for the third year in a row when it hosts Navy Saturday.
*The Bison were 6-1 at the halfway point in 2011 and 7-0 last season on their way to a 10-0 start.
*Bucknell has won five straight games against the Mids, including all three last season.
*Bucknell won at Navy 66-51 on Jan. 28 and at home 64-55 on Feb. 25 in the regular season before an 87-63 win in the League Tournament quarterfinals on Feb. 29.
*The Bison also swept the Mids in 2011 after Navy had swept the season series in 2010.
*Navy holds a 34-30 lead in the all-time series, though Bucknell is ahead 26-22 in games played as Patriot League members.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks (15-5, 5-1) at Army Black Knights (10-11, 3-3)
Christl Arena; West Point, N.Y.; Sunday, 1 p.m.
*Lehigh tries to keep up its best start in the Patriot League since 2006 when it visits Army on Sunday afternoon.
*The Mountain Hawks were last 6-1 at the midway point of League play in that year, and went on to start 11-1.
*Army has never been over .500 at the middle of the Patriot League schedule.
*Lehigh has won the last three games against Army, including a sweep of last year's season series.
*The Mountain Hawks beat the Black Knights 83-64 at home on Jan. 29 and 74-72 in overtime at West Point on Feb. 25.
*Lehigh has claimed six of the last seven against Army overall, and the last three meetings at Christl Arena.

Team Notebooks
AMERICAN The Eagles had Bucknell on its heels throughout the second half, but could not finish the job in the final two minutes and suffered a heartbreaking 56-55 loss at home to the Bison on Wednesday...American falls under .500 through six League games for the first time since 2007, and lost to Bucknell for the seventh consecutive time...After trailing by one point at the half, 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 three-pointer by Daniel Munoz made it 55-48 with 2:16 to play, but Bucknell scored the final eight points of the game and won it on a putback with 0.8 seconds left...American could not close out the game as it missed a pair of front ends of 1-and-1s in the final 33 seconds...It was the fourth straight time that the Eagles lost to the Bison by six points or less...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...The Eagles close out the first half of the Patriot League schedule at home against Lafayette on Sunday.

ARMY Ella Ellis scored 23 points and Kyle Wilson added 21 as Army held on late for an 80-66 win at Holy Cross 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 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, while Larry Toomey added 12 points and Kyle Toth scored 10...Army was a perfect 17-of-17 at the foul line...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...The Black Knights come home to wrap up the first half of the Patriot League schedule on Sunday afternoon against Lehigh.

BUCKNELL Bucknell 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 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...Bucknell led 28-27 at the half, but fell behind by as many as eight points in the second half and still trailed 55-48 with 2:16 to play...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...American missed another 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 bucket 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 in League play 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...The Bison will try to continue the run when they host Navy on Saturday evening.

COLGATE The Raiders saw their two-game win streak come to an end with a 69-40 loss at Lafayette on Wednesday evening...It was Colgate's sixth straight loss to the Leopards, and the Raiders are under .500 through six League games for the seventh year in a row...Colgate was in the game early, but Lafayette took control with a 20-0 run that spanned the first and second half...The Raiders only got as close as 15 points the rest of the way... 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...The Raiders return home to complete the first half of League play on Saturday against Holy Cross.

HOLY CROSS The Crusaders have dropped three straight Patriot League games after falling at home against Army 80-66 at home on Wednesday...They fell 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 went on a 15-5 run to take a 38-34 lead at halftime...The Crusaders stayed close throughout the second half and were only down 68-64 with four minutes left, but the Black Knights closed on a 12-2 surge to pull away for the win... 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...The Crusaders go back on the road Saturday to wrap up the first half of the Patriot League schedule at Colgate.

LAFAYETTE Lafayette continued its roll, especially on the defensive end, with a resounding 69-40 victory over Colgate 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...The Leopards try to keep it going on Saturday when they visit American.

LEHIGH Lehigh rebounded from its loss to rival Lafayette on Sunday by putting on a defensive clinic in a 71-49 victory at Navy 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 and 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...The Mountain Hawks improved to 7-3 away from home as they started a three-game road trip which continues at Army on Sunday.

NAVY The Mids dropped their third straight game and eighth in the last nine as they fell to Lehigh 71-49 on Wednesday...Navy had an 8-1 lead early, but Lehigh used runs of 14-0 and 10-2 to take a 28-18 lead at the half...Navy was within eight in the second half before Lehigh went on a 14-1 run to pull away for good... 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 shot 28.8% (19-of-66) from the field and 3-of-23 from three-point range in the game...The Mids head on the road to face Bucknell on Saturday evening.