Bucknell Claims Top Seed in Patriot League Tournament

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Gabe Knutson's putback with 4.7 seconds left gave Lehigh a 67-66 win over rival Lafayette.
Gabe Knutson's putback with 4.7 seconds left gave Lehigh a 67-66 win over rival Lafayette.

Feb. 20, 2011

Center Valley, Pa. - The Patriot League "flex" schedule put three games starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and the simultaneous action produced an exciting and dramatic afternoon as Bucknell, American and Lehigh won contests that went down to the wire.

The Bison clinched the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the third time, and first since 2006, by rallying in the second half and holding on for a 77-69 win at Colgate. Bucknell will have home court in each round of the event, and locks up at least a share of its sixth regular-season title. The Bison are also guaranteed of playing in the postseason, as they will earn a berth to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) if they do not win the Patriot League Championship.

While American saw its chance at the top seed come to an end, the Eagles clinched the No. 2 spot and home court through the semifinals with a 64-60 win over Holy Cross at Bender Arena. Troy Brewer hit a tiebreaking shot with under a minute to play and the Eagles made their free throws down the stretch to earn the victory.

The most dramatic finish of the day came in the matchup selected for national television coverage on CBS College Sports Network, as Lehigh rallied for a 67-66 win over Lafayette on Gabe Knutson's putback with 4.7 seconds to play. The Mountain Hawks took sole possesion of third place with the victory, and dropped Lafayette into a fourth-place tie with Holy Cross and Navy.

Bucknell improved to 11-1 in Patriot League action, while American upped its record to 9-3 to guarantee second place. Lehigh stands alone in third at 6-6, with Holy Cross, Lafayette and Navy all at 5-7 and Colgate at 4-8. While the Mountain Hawks have the inside track, all five teams still have a chance to earn the final two spots to host a quarterfinal game in the Patriot League Tournament on March 2.

All teams are in action on Wednesday, with Lehigh at Bucknell, Holy Cross at Colgate and Army at Lafayette at 7 p.m. and Navy at American at 7:30 p.m.

A full synopsis of each game, along with recaps and box scores from the schools, is included below.

Bucknell 77 at Colgate 69
Box Score

Hamilton, N.Y. - After trailing by double digits, Bucknell (20-8, 11-1 PL) rallied in the second half then held on down the stretch for a 77-69 win at Colgate (7-20, 4-8 PL) that clinched the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and at least a share of the regular-season title.

Bucknell earns the top seed for the third time, previously holding the spot in 1993 and 2006. The Bison stake claim to their sixth regular-season title, and are guaranteed of a trip to the postseason.

After Bucknell opened with a 16-15 lead, Colgate put together a 13-2 run for a 28-18 lead midway through the first half. The Bison got back as close as three points, and were down just 38-33 at the half. Colgate scored the first five points of the second half for a 43-33 lead, but Bucknell answered with seven straight to get back within three. The Raiders were still up 51-47 when the Bison scored eight straight points to go ahead for good when layups by Bryan Cohen and Cameron Ayers made it 55-51 with 11:16 left. Bucknell gained separation with a 12-4 run to take a 69-60 lead with 4:11 left, but Colgate did not go away and got back within 71-69 on a pair of free throws by Mitch Rolls with 35 seconds remaining. That was as close as Colgate would get, as Ayers came through with four straight free throws and the Bison went on to the 77-69 win.

Five Bucknell players scored in double figures, led by Ayers with 14 points, while shooting 4-of-6 from the field and 6-of-6 at the line. Bryson Johnson scored 12 points, while Darryl Shazier and G.W. Boon each had 11 and Cohen scored 10. Shazier had another fantastic overall game with 10 assists and just two turnovers, and Enoch Andoh had a second straight solid game off the bench with six points and 10 rebounds as foul trouble limited Mike Muscala to nine points in 18 minutes. The Bison made 27-of-65 shots in the game, but were proficient from three-point range (8-of-16) and the foul line (15-of-17). Bucknell had just seven turnovers and held Colgate to 5-of-19 shooting from three-point range. The Bison swept the Raiders for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.

Nick Pascale dominated the paint for Colgate with 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, while Joe Hoban had 16 points and Yaw Gyawu scored 13. The Raiders were 25-of-59 from the field and also left points at the foul line with a 14-of-23 night. Colgate struggled in the second half with 10-of-32 shooting after going 15-of-27 before intermission, and hit just 1-of-10 three-pointers after the break.

at American 64, Holy Cross 60
Box Score

Washington, D.C. - Troy Brewer broke a 56-56 tie on a jumper in the lane with 1:03 to go and American (19-8, 9-3 PL) held on for a 64-60 win over Holy Cross (6-20, 5-7 PL) on Sunday at Bender Arena.

With the win, the Eagles clinch the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and home court through the semifinal round. American sweeps the season series from Holy Cross for the first time since 2004 as the Crusaders fall to into a fourth-place tie in the Patriot League with Lafayette and Navy.

No team led by more than seven points in the game, an advantage the Eagles held on a handful of occasions in the first half. Holy Cross cut the gap to 26-22 by the break, then took its first lead of the game when Andrew Keister's layup made it 39-38 with 12:49 to play. That was part of a 14-3 Holy Cross run that gave the Crusaders their biggest advantage at 44-39 with 9:44 to go. American responded with six straight points to re-claim the lead less than two minutes later, and the lead went back and forth with neither up by more than two points until the Eagles scored five straight for a 56-52 advantage with 2:55 left. Holy Cross tied the score at 56 on a layup by Jordan Stevens with 1:38 to play, but the Eagles went back ahead for good when they milked the shot clock down before Brewer's shot with 1:03 to go. After a miss by Mike Cavataio, American ran the clock again and went up 60-56 on Stephen Lumpkins' shot with 14 seconds left. Vlad Moldoveanu sank four free throws down the stretch as Holy Cross did not get another possession with the chance to tie or take the lead.

Moldoveanu led the Eagles with 23 points, doing a bulk of the work at the free throw line with a 13-of-15 performance. Lumpkins had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Nick Hendra had eight points and nine assists. The Eagles made 50 percent of their second-half shots to finish 22-of-50 for the game, and connected on 18-of-23 free throws. They had 14 assists with just eight turnovers in the game.

Holy Cross was dealt yet another tough defeat, as the Crusaders fell to 0-5 in the Patriot League and 0-10 on the season in games decided by four points or less. Its seven Patriot League losses are by a combined 30 points, with the four defeats against American and Bucknell by just 13 total points. Cavataio led the way with 16 points, while Brown had 13 and Keister finished with his fifth-straight and 27th-career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Holy Cross hit 17-of-32 shots in the second half to finish 24-of-56 for the game, and only turned it over seven times.

at Lehigh 67, Lafayette 66
Box Score | CBSC Highlights | Lehigh Coach Brett Reed Interview

Bethlehem, Pa. - Gabe Knutson's putback layup with 4.7 seconds to play lifted Lehigh to a dramatic 67-66 comeback victory over rival Lafayette on Sunday at Stabler Arena in a game televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network.

The Mountain Hawks swept the Leopards for the first time since 2006 after the teams split the season series for the past four years. Lehigh moved into sole possession of third place in the Patriot League, one game ahead of Lafayette, Holy Cross and Navy.

The Leopards held the lead for the majority of the game, going ahead midway through the first half with a 16-4 run to take a 31-21 lead with 4:22 left. Lehigh chipped away to trim Lafayette's lead to 36-33 at halftime, but the Leopards padded the advantage again early in the second half with six straight points to go up 48-39 with 14:40 to play. Lehigh got back within two when Knutson's three-point play made it 54-52 with 7:03 to go, and finally tied the score again when a three-pointer by Jordan Hamilton made it even at 59-59 with 4:04 left. A three-pointer and foul shot from C.J. McCollum put Lehigh up 63-61 with 2:43 to go, but Lafayette responded with a three-pointer by Jim Mower and layup by Tony Johnson for a 66-63 lead with 1:38 left. McCollum made a pair of free throws to cut it to 66-65 with 1:09 left, but missed a shot with 17 seconds left to take the lead. Lafayette had multiple attempts to get the ball inbounds after the miss, but turned it over to set up Lehigh's final possession with 15 seconds to go. McCollum's attempt came off the rim, but Knutson was there with the putback and the Mountain Hawks took the win when Johnson's three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.

McCollum led Lehigh with 16 points while shooting just 4-of-17 from the field, though he did make 7-of-8 foul shots. He ended his perfect streak of scoring 20 points or more in Patriot League play, where he had joined BYU's Jimmer Fredette as the only players in the country with 20 or more in every conference game. With four seniors starting in their final home game, Knutson came off the bench for 12 points and seven rebounds and Holden Greiner did the same with 11 points and 13 boards. Rob Keefer also scored in double figures with 10 points. The Mountain Hawks shot under 40 percent from the field and just 4-of-16 from beyond the arc, but held a 41-37 edge on the boards and made 15 free throws. Lehigh closed its home schedule with a 3-4 Patriot League record.

Jared Mintz paced Lafayette with 18 points while making 6-of-9 shots and 6-of-7 free throws, and also led the way with eight rebounds. Mower finished with 12 points and seven other players found the score sheet. Lafayette hit a solid 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the field, but was just 6-of-17 from three-point range and had a rare off day at the foul line with an 8-for-14 mark. The Leopards suffered two heartbreaking losses this week after falling in overtime to Bucknell on Wednesday, and have fallen by a combined 11 points in their three-game losing streak.