Lehigh, American Close Gap on Bucknell in Patriot League Men's Basketball

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Colgate's Mitch Rolls hit a game-winning three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left for a 59-57 win at Navy.
Colgate's Mitch Rolls hit a game-winning three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left for a 59-57 win at Navy.

Feb. 18, 2012

Center Valley, Pa. - The regular-season championship and top seed in the Patriot League Tournament is no longer a foregone conclusion, as Bucknell fell for the second straight contest to allow Lehigh and American to climb to within a game of the first-place Bison with two to play.

The Bison got off to a very slow start and could not recover despite a late charge in a 54-52 loss at Holy Cross. The defeat dropped Bucknell to 10-2 in the Patriot League, one game ahead of Lehigh and American after each squad won on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks had an impressive Senior Day with a 72-53 triumph over rival Lafayette, while the Eagles ran away in the second half for a 74-50 win at Army.

Lehigh and American joined Bucknell in clinching a home game in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament on Feb. 29. That leaves just one home spot up for grabs, with Holy Cross inching closer to the position by moving a game ahead of Lafayette and two in front of Army for fourth place in the Patriot League.

The final two seeds in the Patriot League Tournament were set as Mitch Rolls hit a game-winning three-pointer with 1.5 seconds to play to lift Colgate to a 59-57 win at Navy. The Raiders will play as the No. 7 seed in the postseason, while the Mids have the No. 8 position.

Bucknell can still clinch the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament when it visits American on Thursday on CBS Sports Network, but a victory by the Eagles would drop the Bison into a first-place tie. Lehigh hopes to keep the pace when it heads to Navy on Wednesday, which also includes Army at Holy Cross and Colgate at Lafayette. The Crusaders will clinch a top four seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a victory over the Black Knights.

Links to recaps and box scores from Saturday's games are included below.

at Holy Cross 54, Bucknell 52
Box Score

Worcester, Mass. - Holy Cross (13-13, 7-5 Patriot League) dominated in the first half and held off a late run by Bucknell (20-8, 10-2) for a 54-52 win over the Bison on Saturday at the Hart Center.

Holy Cross moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Patriot League with its fourth straight win, and fifth in the past six outings. The Crusaders can clinch a top four seed in the Patriot League Tournament when they host Army on Wednesday. Bucknell missed an opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed in the postseason for the second straight game.

After the Bison scored the first basket of the game, Holy Cross reeled off 17 straight points while holding Bucknell scoreless for nearly nine minutes to take control. Bucknell had only two field goals in a 15-minute span of the first half as Holy Cross cruised to a 28-10 lead at the break.

Bucknell opened the second half with a 15-5 run to get within eight points, but Holy Cross scored the next seven to make the margin comfortable again at 40-25 with 11 minutes to play. Bucknell chipped away from there, getting back within single digits with just over four minutes to go. Holy Cross held the Bison off until the final moments when Bryson Johnson and Cameron Ayers hit consecutive three-pointers to bring Bucknell within 54-52 with three seconds to go. Devin Brown missed a pair of free throws to give Bucknell one last chance, but the Bison could not complete a desperation comeback and fell for the second straight time after a 12-game winning streak.

Freshman Justin Burrell continued his strong play of late by leading the Crusaders with 15 points. Mike Cavataio added nine points while Dave Dudzinski had seven for the Crusaders. Holy Cross only shot 20-of-52 from the field and 6-of-19 from three-point range in the game, but had an outstanding defensive effort. The Crusaders limited Bucknell to 5-of-24 shooting in the first half as they built the lead, and the Bison made only 3-of-15 three-pointers in the game. Holy Cross improved to 9-2 at home this season, and has a 5-1 mark at the Hart Center in Patriot League action that includes wins over Lehigh and American in addition to Bucknell. The Crusaders have won four straight and five out of six, and split the season series with the Bison.

Mike Muscala had a strong effort for the Bison with 20 points and 10 rebounds, notching his 13th double-double of the season. Johnson added eight points while Ayers scored seven. The shooting woes plagued the Bison, though Bucknell did hit 18-of-30 shots in the second half to get back into the game. The Bison have dropped consecutive games for the first time since losing on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3. Bucknell had won eight consecutive Patriot League road games, and had a seven-game road winning streak overall.

at Lehigh 72, Lafayette 53
Box Score | CBS Sports Network Wrapup Video

Bethlehem, Pa. - Lehigh (21-7, 9-3) clinched a home game in the Patriot League Tournament and moved to within one game of first place with a 72-53 win over rival Lafayette (11-16, 6-6) in a game shown on CBS Sports Network Saturday at Stabler Arena.

The Mountain Hawks took control from the start, scoring nine straight points for an 11-2 lead less than four minutes into the game. Lehigh would stretch its lead to 22-10, but the Leopards fought back and were within 31-28 with two minutes left in the first half. Lehigh scored the final seven points of the period for a 38-28 lead at the break, and then put together an 8-0 run to strech the advantage to 51-35 just five minutes into the second half. The Mountain Hawks led by double digits the rest of the way as they went on to the 72-53 win.

Three players scored in double figures for Lehigh, led by C.J. McCollum with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting. John Adams had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Gabe Knuston added 10 points. The Mountain Hawks shot just under 50 percent at 29-of-59 for the game, and held a sizable 44-29 rebounding advantage. Lehigh held the Leopards to 21-of-61 from the field and 6-of-20 from three-point range. The Mountain Hawks won their fifth straight game against Lafayette, sweeping the Leopards for the second season in a row. Lehigh has won three straight and seven of the last eight overall. It can not finish any lower than the No. 3 seed for the Patriot League Tournament.

Lafayette dropped its third straight game, falling to fifth place in the Patriot League in the process. Ryan Willen led the Leopards with 16 points, while Tony Johnson added 12 and Rob Delaney had nine. The Leopards lost on the road in the Patriot League for just the second time.

American 74 at Army 50
Box Score

West Point, N.Y. - A dominant second half lifted American (18-9, 9-3) to a 74-50 win at Army (12-15, 5-7) on Saturday at Christl Arena, clinching a home game in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals for the Eagles.

It was a back and forth game for the first 16 minutes before American closed the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 30-25 lead into intermission. The lead was still at seven when the Eagles went on an 8-0 run to increase the gap to 49-34 with 11:11 to play. American kept pulling away in the final minutes as it went on to the 74-50 win.

Charles Hinkle paced the Eagles with 18 points, while Tony Wroblicky and Troy Brewer each scored 10. American pulled away by shooting 19-of-28 in the second half, and finished over 60 percent from the field for the game at 32-of-53. It also made 7-of-14 shots from three-point range. The Eagles had 19 assists as a team, with Daniel Munoz dishing out 10 to go with eight points. The Eagles were just as good defensively, limiting the Black Knights to 16-of-49 from the field and 3-of-21 from three-point range. The Eagles also held a 33-25 edge on the boards. They have won two games in a row, both by more than 20 points. American swept the season series from Army for the second year in a row, beating the Black Knights for the fifth consecutive time overall.

Ella Ellis had his 29th consecutive double-figure scoring game with 16 points to lead Army, and in the process the junior went over 1,000 points in his career. He was the only Black Knight to finish in double figures, as Jordan Springer followed with nine points and Maxwell Lenox scored eight. Army made 15-of-19 free throws, but it was not enough to make up for the struggles from the field. The Black Knights had their two-game winning streak snapped.

Colgate 59 at Navy 57
Box Score

Annapolis, Md. - Mitch Rolls hit a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to lift Colgate (8-19, 2-10) to a 59-57 win at Navy (3-23, 0-12) on Saturday at Alumni Hall.

With the win, the Raiders lock up the No. 7 seed in the Patriot League Tournament while the Mids will take the No. 8 position.

Colgate had a slim lead for most of the evening, going up 29-25 at halftime and holding a 55-49 advantage in the final minute. Navy put together a strong late stretch to get back into the game. An Isaiah Roberts three-pointer cut Colgate's lead to 56-54 with 32 seconds left, and the Mids forced a pair of Colgate turnovers and went ahead 57-56 on a layup by Roberts with eight seconds to go. But Navy could not close out the game, as Rolls hit a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left and the Mids could not convert a desperation attempt to take another heartbreaking loss.

Both of Colgate's Patriot League victories have come against Navy, with Rolls hitting a game-tying three-pointer in the final 10 seconds of regulation in a 65-54 overtime win against the Mids on Jan. 21. Rolls led Colgate with 13 points on Saturday, while Mike Venezia scored 11 and went over 1,000 career points in the game. The duo combined to make 5-of-7 three-pointers as Colgate was 6-of-10 from long range and 17-of-29 from the field in the game. The Raiders also hit 19-of-24 free throws and won a game where they committed eight more turnovers than Navy. Colgate swept Navy in the season series for the first time since 2008. Seven of Colgate's eight victories this season have come by four points or less or in overtime.

Navy lost a 19th straight game as its heartbreaking season continued. The Mids have lost seven games by either three points or less or in overtime. Jordan Sugars had 20 points while Roberts scored 18, with the pair combining to go 12-of-20 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. The rest of the Mids combined to shoot just 6-of-26 in the game and 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Navy committed only nine turnovers while forcing 17 by Colgate. Navy has dropped its first 12 Patriot League games for the first time since 2004.