Feb. 23, 2012
Washington, D.C. - For the second straight season, Bucknell will have home court throughout the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament. The Bison locked up the No. 1 seed in the tourney, and home-court advantage that comes with it, by gutting out a 55-50 win at American Thursday on CBS Sports Network.
Mike Muscala paced Bucknell with 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Bison improved to 21-8 overall and 11-2 in the Patriot League. They clinched at least a share of the regular-season title, with Lehigh one game off the pace at 10-3. With Bucknell's win, the Mountain Hawks are locked into the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. Bucknell will host No. 8 Navy while Lehigh welcomes No. 7 Colgate in Wednesday's quarterfinal round.
American fell to 18-10 overall and 9-4 in the Patriot League with the loss, its first at Bender Arena this season. The Eagles fall to third place in the Patriot League, one game ahead of Holy Cross. American can clinch the No. 3 seed in the League Tournament with a win over Lafayette on Saturday or Holy Cross loss at Colgate, but the Crusaders can jump to the spot with a win and an American loss. Lafayette is set as the No. 5 seed in the field, with Army as the No. 6.
It was a defensive struggle throughout the evening, but American had the better of the action early on and took an 18-8 lead midway through the first half. The Bison got back into it by outscoring American 16-8 for the remainder of the half to trail only 26-24 at the break. Muscala had 14 of Bucknell's 24 first-half points.
The game remained tight for most of the second half, with American holding a 40-38 lead with 7:41 to go. But the Bison began a decisive 12-0 run from there, pulling ahead to a 50-40 advantage with 2:32 to go. Muscala hit a free throw followed by a jumper for a 41-40 lead, and Bryan Cohen, Bryson Johnson and Cameron Ayers each connected on three-pointers to complete the 12-0 surge. The Eagles scored the next six points to get within 50-46 with 55 seconds left, but the Bison defense clamped down and Muscala hit two key free throws with 15 seconds to go to seal the 55-50 victory.
Muscala made 9-of-21 shots and 8-of-10 free throws and had two blocks, with just one turnover, in his outstanding evening. Johnson added 11 points and made 3-of-6 three-pointers, while Ayers scored eight. The Bison shot just 18-of-54 overall, but made 7-of-15 from three-point range. Bucknell limited American to 36.5 percent from the field in the game. The Bison committed only six turnovers to go with 13 assists, and held a 39-36 rebounding advantage. Bucknell won its sixth straight game against American, sweeping the Eagles for the third year in a row.
Daniel Munoz led American with 15 points, while Troy Brewer added 13 and Tony Wroblicky scored 11 and pulled down eight rebounds. The Eagles committed just seven turnovers in the game. Leading scorer Charles Hinkle finished with just three points on 1-of-9 from the field. Hinkle and Blake Jolivette combined to shoot 2-of-20 from the field. The Eagles had won their first 11 home games on the season.
Links to recaps from each school and the box score from Thursday's contest are included below.
Bucknell 55 at American 50