CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- It's a big weekend for positioning in the Patriot League standings as all four games have implications on who will host in the upcoming League Tournament.
Bucknell and Lehigh have already clinched the right to host in the quarterfinals, and the Bison can seal their spot as a top-two seed with a win over Holy Cross on Sunday at Noon.
The Mountain Hawks are a game behind first-place Bucknell, but also in danger of losing their hold on second place as they head to rival Lafayette on Sunday at Noon on CBS Sports Network. The Leopards are just one game behind Lehigh in the standings, and are going for the season sweep after winning in Bethlehem on Jan. 27.
Army has only finished as a top-four seed in the Patriot League Tournament once, but the Black Knights could go a long way towards locking up a home game if they can win at American on Saturday at 2 p.m. Army would be two games ahead of the Eagles with a win, while American hopes to make things very interesting with a victory to tie the Black Knights for fourth.
Colgate also hosts Navy in another game set for Sunday at Noon, with the Raiders still holding out hope to make a late surge and get some help to reach the top four.
If Lafayette, Navy and Army all win this weekend, the Leopards and Black Knights would finalize the quarterfinal hosts.
Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*Bucknell can earn a top-two seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a win over Holy Cross on Sunday.
*The Bison and Lehigh have both clinched quarterfinal home games.
*Lafayette clinches a quarterfinal home game with a win over Lehigh and an Army win over American.
*Army can clinch a home spot with a victory over the Eagles and a Colgate loss to Navy.
*If Lafayette, Army and Navy all win, the Leopards and Black Knights earn quarterfinal home games to complete the four hosts on March 6.
*Bucknell is in search of its third-straight 10-win Patriot League season and ninth in school history.
*Only three schools have posted three-straight 10-win League campaigns.
*Lehigh is trying to win a ninth Patriot League game for the sixth time.
*Lafayette is trying to guarantee its first winning League record since 2010 and first sweep of Lehigh since 2002, excluding one that came by forfeit in 2005.
*Army aims for its first-ever seven-win Patriot League season, and tries to secure its first non-losing record in League play.
*The Black Knights also go for their first four-game Patriot League win streak.
*American holds a perfect 14-0 mark against Army at Bender Arena.
*Bucknell's Mike Muscala was named a third-team Capital One Academic All-American on Thursday.
Patriot League Notebook
Bucknell Stakes Claim to First Place in Patriot League
Another chapter of the Bucknell-Lehigh rivalry went to the road team on Monday, and the Bison are now in the driver's seat for the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament after their 61-55 win at Stabler Arena. Bucknell would claim the regular-season title and right to host each round of the tournament by winning its final three games. Bucknell has at least nine wins in a Patriot League season for the 13th time, and is 34-5 in League play since the start of the 2011 season. With a win on Sunday, the Bison would join Lafayette (1998-00), Holy Cross (2005-07) and Bucknell (2005-07) as the only runs of three-straight seasons with at least 10 Patriot League wins. The Bison lead the nation with 11 road wins after posting the victory at Lehigh.
Bison, Mountain Hawks to Host Again in League Tournament
For the fourth year in a row, Bucknell and Lehigh will each host at least one game in the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament. The teams clinched the first two hosting spots for the quarterfinal round this week, and the Bison can claim at least a top-two seed with a win over Holy Cross on Sunday. Five teams are still in play for the remaining two hosting spots, with Lafayette and Army holding the inside track after posting wins on Wednesday. Lafayette clinches a home game with a win and an American loss this weekend, while Army does so with a win and a Navy win over Colgate. All four hosting spots would be set if Lafayette, Army and Navy post victories to guarantee home games for the Leopards and Black Knights.
Big Shot Tony
For the second straight game, Tony Johnson came through in the clutch for Lafayette on Wednesday. After hitting a game-winner with 4.5 seconds left to beat Bucknell 63-62 on Saturday, Johnson canned a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left for a 79-76 victory on Wednesday at Holy Cross. He had ignited the Leopards' 9-0 rally to finish the game with a three-point play that cut the deficit to three with 1:33 left. Johnson's heroics were the finishing touch to great comeback efforts as Lafayette rallied from double-digit deficits in both victories. Lafayette has won six of its last eight games, and its 7-4 Patriot League mark is its best at this stage of the season since 2004.
Army Setting a Number of Firsts in Breakthrough Season
Army is enjoying a turnaround season, and the Black Knights have the numbers to prove it. Last week at Navy, Army won a third consecutive Patriot League road game for the first time in school history. In Wednesday's win over Colgate, the Black Knights moved over .500 in the second half of League play for the first time and also matched their school record of six Patriot League wins, set previously in 2002, 2008 and 2009. On Saturday at American, more firsts are on the line. Army tries for its first-ever seven-win campaign in League play and to guarantee its first non-losing season, and also aims to win four straight League contests for the first time and extend the road winning streak to four. With a win and a Colgate loss, Army would clinch a top-four seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the second time and first since 2009.
Reversing the Trends
Trends set in the first half of Patriot League play have taken a turn in the last week. Seven of the last eight Patriot League games have been decided by six points or less after 27 of the first 36 were margins of nine points or more. Only five of the first 36 were within five points, but five of the past eight have been within five. After the first eight completed Patriot League series ended in sweeps, seven of the last eight have been split. And after only two teams rallied to win from halftime deficits before the weekend, four have done so in the last eight games. The lead changed hands after halftime in five of the eight games since the weekend after it happened in only eight of the first 36 heading in. And after the home/road split was 16-16 at one point, the home squads have surged ahead for a 24-20 advantage to date.
Bucknell's Muscala with Yet Another Honor
The on and off-court praise continued for Bucknell senior Mike Muscala on Thursday as he was named a third-team Capital One Academic All-American. Muscala becomes just the sixth Patriot Leaguer to earn Academic All-America distinction, and only the second in the past 13 years. Muscala is also a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award along with Lehigh's C.J. McCollum. On the court, Muscala leads the nation with 19 double-doubles and is up to third in Division I with 11.5 rebounds per game.
Army/Lehigh to Conclude Regular Season on CBS Sports Network
The last Patriot League flex game of the season was selected on Thursday, and it will be Army at Lehigh to finish up the regular season on CBS Sports Network at Noon on March 2. The first flex is on Sunday with Lehigh at Lafayette at Noon on CBS Sports Network. The network's coverage of Patriot League hoops continues with the Patriot League semifinals on March 9 (2 and 4:30 p.m.) and the League Championship contest on March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Patriot League Games
Lehigh Mountain Hawks (18-7, 8-3) at Lafayette Leopards (14-14, 7-4) Kirby Sports Center; Easton, Pa. - Sunday, Noon TV: CBS Sports Network
*Second place in the Patriot League is on the line when Lehigh visits rival Lafayette Sunday at Noon on CBS Sports Network.
*The Mountain Hawks hold a one-game edge, but Lafayette is going for the sweep after winning 78-57 at Lehigh on Jan. 27.
*Lafayette is trying to sweep Lehigh for the first time since the 2005 season, though one of those victories came by forfeit.
*The Leopards have not won both games on the court against the Mountain Hawks since 2002.
*Lehigh had won the previous five meetings before Lafayette's victory last month.
*The Mountain Hawks have won their trip to Kirby Sports Center in each of the last two seasons.
*An 8-4 mark would continue Lafayette's best run at this point of the League slate since 2004, and guarantee a winning mark in League play for the first time since 2010.
*Lehigh is trying to win a ninth Patriot League game for the sixth time in its history.
*Lafayette holds a 137-78 edge in the series, with Lehigh holding a slight 27-22 lead as Patriot League members.
Holy Cross Crusaders (11-15, 3-8) at Bucknell Bison (22-5, 9-2) Sojka Pavilion; Lewisburg, Pa. - Sunday, Noon
*Bucknell can clinch a top-two seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a win against Holy Cross on Sunday.
*The Bison recorded a 65-58 win in Worcester when the teams first met on Jan. 26.
*Bucknell is trying to sweep the Crusaders for the second time in the last three years.
*The Bison have won four of the last five meetings overall and the last three regular-season home games against Holy Cross.
*The Crusaders did record a win at Bucknell in the 2010 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals.
*Six of the last seven meetings have been decided by seven points or less.
*Bucknell holds a 32-26 lead in a series that has been played entirely as Patriot League members.
*The Bison try to win a 10th Patriot League game for the third year in a row and ninth in school history.
*Only three teams have won 10 League games or more in three consecutive seasons.
*Holy Cross would tie its most defeats in League games with a loss.
Army Black Knights (13-13, 6-5) at American Eagles (10-16, 5-6) Bender Arena; Washington, D.C. - Saturday 2 p.m. WATCH on Patriot League All-Access | Live Stats
*Army visits American on Saturday in a big game for both teams' hopes at hosting in the Patriot League Tournament.
*The Black Knights hold a one-game edge on the Eagles and also beat American 77-64 at home on Jan. 26.
*Army is trying to sweep the Eagles and win a game at Bender Arena for the first time.
*American holds a perfect 14-0 mark against the Black Knights in the facililty.
*The Eagles carry a 24-3 edge against Army since starting Patriot League play in 2002.
*Army aims for its first-ever seven-win Patriot League season, and tries to secure its first non-losing record in League play.
*The Black Knights go for their first four-game Patriot League win streak.
*Army's three consecutive League road wins have already set a school standard.
*American has been at least .500 through 12 League contests in each of the last two seasons, and the Eagles have lost seven Patriot League games only three times in their 11 seasons.
Navy Midshipmen (8-19, 2-9) at Colgate Raiders (10-18, 4-7) Cotterell Court; Hamilton, N.Y. - Sunday, Noon
*Colgate goes for its fourth-straight win over Navy when the Raiders host the Mids on Sunday at Noon.
*Colgate posted a 70-56 triumph at Navy on Jan. 26 in the teams' first meeting.
*The Raiders won both contests last year, claiming a 65-54 overtime win at home on Jan. 21 and 59-57 at Navy on Feb. 18.
*Navy had swept the season series in 2011 before Colgate's run of three straight wins.
*Colgate holds a slim 28-24 lead in the all-time series, and is up 23-20 in Patriot League regular-season games.
*The Mids aim to win consecutive Patriot League games for the first time since a three-game run in 2011.
*Colgate goes for five wins in Patriot League play for the first time since 2010.
Team Notebooks AMERICAN The Eagles picked a bad time for their worst offensive performance in a Patriot League game as they fell to Navy 50-44 on Wednesday...American matched its lowest scoring output in a League contest and fell to 5-6 in League action, one game behind Army for fourth place...The Eagles fell under .500 through 11 League games for the first time since 2010...They were cold throughout the first half and trailed 21-12 at the break...After falling behind by 12, American scored 10 straight points in less than three minutes to even the score at 30-30...However, the Eagles never took the lead and had 14 points in the last 13 minutes to fall 50-44... Stephen Lumpkins finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the year...Daniel Munoz led the way with 15 points and Tony Wroblicky had seven, but the rest of the team had 11 points on 4-of-20 shooting...American shot 4-of-18 in the first half and 16-of-45 for the game...The Eagles have a crucial game on Saturday as they host Army...A win would tie the Black Knights for fourth place in the Patriot League.
ARMY Army is over .500 in the second half of Patriot League play for the first time in school history after getting 34 points from senior Ella Ellis in a 77-63 win over Colgate on Wednesday at Christl Arena...The Black Knights also matched their highest-ever win total in League play at six, set before in 2002, 2008 and 2009...Army has won three consecutive League games for the first time since 2009...Army trailed only once at 2-0, and took over early with a 14-1 run to go up 14-3 less than six minutes into the contest...The Black Knights would later score nine straight points for their biggest lead of the game at 28-11 with 8:28 left in the first half, and led by double digits the rest of the period to take a 37-25 lead at the break...Colgate cut the margin to four with 11:44 to go, but Army responded with eight straight points to go back ahead by 12 and led by at least eight the rest of the way in the 77-63 victory...Ellis made 11-of-15 shots, 4-of-7 three-pointers and 8-of-10 free throws in his 34-point effort, which was the top mark in a regulation Patriot League game this season and just one off the high in League play...Josh Herbeck added 11 and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc...Army shot 24-of-49 from the field, 10-of-23 from three-point range and 19-of-24 at the line in the solid offensive effort...The Black Knights go for their first four-game Patriot League win streak when they visit American on Saturday afternoon.
BUCKNELL Bucknell broke open a tie game with a 15-4 run midway through the second half and held off Lehigh down the stretch to beat the Mountain Hawks 61-55 on Monday at Stabler Arena in a game shown on CBS Sports Network...The Bison moved one game ahead of Lehigh for first place in the standings and became the first team to clinch at least one home game in the Patriot League Tournament...It was the fifth consecutive game in the series won by the road team...Bucknell has won its trip to Lehigh in each of the last three years... The Bison improved to 34-5 in the Patriot League since the start of the 2011 season, with a 17-3 road mark in that span...Bucknell also became the national leader with 11 road victories this season...With the score tied at 37-37, the Bison went on the 15-4 run as Bryson Johnson hit consecutive three-pointers and Mike Muscala converted a three-point play for a 9-0 surge and Ben Brackney and Johnson each canned treys to give Bucknell a 52-41 edge with 8:43 left...Lehigh closed to within three points twice in the final minutes, but Cameron Ayers scored with 13 seconds left to seal the win...Johnson led the Bison with 19 points while Muscala just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds...The Bison got big minutes off the bench from Brian Fitzpatrick (six points, 10 rebounds)...Bucknell limited Lehigh to 1-of-15 from three-point range...The Bison are back in action Sunday at Noon at home against Holy Cross, where a win would lock up a top two seed in the League Tournament.
COLGATE The Raiders fell for the fourth time in the last five games with a 77-63 defeat at Army on Wednesday...It was a blow to Colgate's chances to finish in the top half of the standings, as the Raiders are now two games back of fourth-place Army...Colgate lost its fourth straight road game...The Raiders scored the first basket of the game, but never led again after that...Army opened an early 14-3 lead, pushed it as high as 17 and led 37-25 at the half... Colgate came back early in the second half, as the Raiders chipped away in the first part of the period to get as close as 49-45 with 11:44 to go...But Army scored the next eight points and led by at least eight the rest of the way in the 77-63 final... Murphy Burnatowski had 19 points to lead Colgate, while Pat Moore finished with 13 and Mitch Rolls had 10...The Raiders gave themselves a chance by grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and only committing seven turnovers, but shot just 22-of-64 from the field and 5-of-26 from three-point range in the game...Colgate is home for its next two games, beginning on Sunday against Navy.
HOLY CROSS The Crusaders lost on a last-second three-pointer for the second straight game as Lafayette scored the final nine points and won it on a trey with 3.5 seconds left for a 79-76 final at the Hart Center on Wednesday... The Crusaders will finish under .500 in League play for the first time since 2010...Holy Cross lost despite shooting 67.4% from the field in the game, with a 16-of-23 clip in the first half as it built a 45-39 lead at the break...Holy Cross went up by 13 in the second half only to see Lafayette come back and tie the score, then used a 9-3 run for a 76-70 edge with under two minutes left...The Leopards scored the last nine points from there to earn the win... Holy Cross finished 29-of-43 from the field and 9-of-16 from three-point range, but could not overcome 20 turnovers... Justin Burrell had 19 points and dished out six assists, while Cullen Hamilton had 18 points and seven rebounds....The Crusaders fell for the seventh time in the last eight games, and now visit Bucknell on Sunday at Noon.
LAFAYETTE Tony Johnson hit the game-winning three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to cap a furious comeback and give Lafayette a 79-76 win at Holy Cross on Wednesday at the Hart Center...The Leopards scored the final nine points of the game in the last minute and a half, and earned the victory when Johnson drained a winning shot in the final five seconds for the second straight game...Lafayette has its best Patriot League record through 11 games since the 2004 season, and also sweeps Holy Cross for the first time since that year...Lafayette won despite allowing Holy Cross to shoot 67.4% from the field, making up for it by forcing 20 Crusader turnovers...The Leopards had to fight back all game, trailing 45-39 at the half and 60-47 with 14:22 to go...Lafayette went on a 17-4 run to tie the game at 67-67 with 5:50 left, but fell behind again 76-70 with under two minutes to go...Lafayette closed with the 9-0 run from there as Johnson had a three-point play and Seth Hinrichs hit a trey to even the score at 76-76 with 53 seconds left and set up the final-second heroics...All five starters scored in double figures, led by a fantastic game from Johnson with 20 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals and just one turnover...Levi Giese added 16 points, while Dan Trist and Bryce Scott each scored 13 and Hinrichs had 10...Lafayette hosts archrival Lehigh on Sunday at Noon on CBS Sports Network...A win would put the teams tied for second place and give the Leopards the tiebreaker edge with a season sweep of the Mountain Hawks.
LEHIGH Lehigh has lost consecutive Patriot League games for the first time since 2011 after falling 61-55 at home against Bucknell on Monday evening on CBS Sports Network...The Mountain Hawks had won 13 of their previous 14 League contests before dropping two in three days to Colgate and Bucknell...Lehigh fell out of a first-place tie with the Bison and into second at 8-3 in the Patriot League...It ended a three-game win streak over Bucknell as the road team won for the fifth straight time in the series...Lehigh trailed throughout the first
half, but scored the last six points of the period for a 24-23 lead at the break...The game was still tied at 37 in the second half before the Bison went on a 15-4 run to take control... Lehigh closed to within three points twice in the final minutes, but Bucknell scored with 13 seconds left to seal the win... The Mountain Hawks were done in by their sub-par shooting from three-point range (1-of-15) as well as a 6-for-15 clip at the foul line...They were 24-of-60 from the field overall, as the rough shooting night mitigated committing only four turnovers in the game...Holden Greiner and Mackey McKnight led Lehigh with 17 points apiece...The Mountain Hawks will have had nearly a week off before visiting archrival Lafayette on Sunday at Noon on CBS Sports Network.
NAVY The Mids dominated defensively in the first half and closed the game with a 7-2 run to earn a 50-44 win over American on Wednesday at Alumni Hall...The Mids put an end to a seven-game losing skid, and beat American for the first time since 2011...Navy also snapped a 12-game home losing streak against Patriot League teams with its first home win versus a League foe since 2011...Navy stifled American's offense in the first half, allowing just three points in the first 10 minutes and seven in nearly 16 minutes of action...The Mids closed the first half with a 14-7 stretch to open up a 21-12 lead at the break...The Mids took a 12-point lead early in the second half, but saw the Eagles come back to tie the score twice...However, Navy would never let the Eagles take the lead, and closed the game with a 7-2 run in the last 2:46 to pull away for the 50-44 final...All 50 of Navy's points came from the starting five, led by Brandon Venturini (13), Tilman Dunbar (12) and Thurgood Wynn (11) in double figures...Dunbar also led the way with five assists...Will Kelly had six points and 13 rebounds as the Mids held a 35-31 edge on the boards, just the second time they have outrebounded the Eagles in a Patriot League game...Navy limited American to 16-of-45 shooting including a 4-of-18 clip in the first half...The Mids go for back-to-back Patriot League wins when they visit Colgate on Sunday at Noon.