CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The home teams held serve on Sunday in Patriot League men's basketball, with Lafayette, Bucknell and Colgate all notching critical victories for their seeding in the upcoming League Tournament.
The Leopards won their third straight game, and seventh in the last nine, by using a late 10-0 run to pull out a 79-71 victory over rival Lehigh. Lafayette ties the Mountain Hawks in the standings at 8-4 in the Patriot League, and holds the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping Lehigh in the season series. Lafayette also becomes the third team to clinch a home game in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals on March 6, joining Lehigh and Bucknell.
While Lafayette still has a shot at the top seed, Bucknell has that spot nearly locked up after beating Holy Cross 74-57. The Bison moved to 10-2 in the Patriot League, clinching at least a share of their third straight regular-season title and becoming only the fourth team in League history to record three-straight 10-win League campaigns. If it wins one of its final two games, Bucknell will claim the No. 1 seed and right to host in each round of the League tourney for the third year in a row.
Colgate still has a chance to host in the quarterfinals after defeating Navy 59-46. The Raiders improved to 5-7 in the League, two games behind Army (7-5) for fourth place and the final spot as a host.
American, Holy Cross and Navy have all been eliminated from contention to host in the quarterfinals. The Eagles are tied with Colgate at 5-7 in the Patriot League, with Holy Cross (3-9) and Navy (2-10 following.
Patriot League action resumes on Wednesday night when Bucknell tries to wrap up the No. 1 seed and outright regular-season title when it hosts American. Army can claim its spot as a quarterfinal host with a win at home against Holy Cross, while Lafayette and Lehigh continue to battle for seeding as the Leopards visit Colgate and the Mountain Hawks host Navy. Each game tips off at 7 p.m., and each will be available on Patriot League All-Access.
Recaps and box scores from each game as well as a synopsis of each contest will be added soon.
EASTON, Pa. - It didn't happen in the final seconds this time, but Lafayette (15-14, 8-4 Patriot League) senior point guard Tony Johnson took over down the stretch once again as the Leopards used a late run to knock off rival Lehigh (18-8, 8-4) by a 79-71 final on Sunday at Kirby Sports Center in a game shown on CBS Sports Network.
With the win, the Leopards pull into a tie for second place with the Mountain Hawks and clinch a home game in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals on March 6. Lafayette holds the tiebreaker edge over Lehigh by sweeping the Mountain Hawks for the first time since 2002, excluding one that came by forfeit in 2005. Lafayette won its third straight game and seventh in the last nine, while the Mountain Hawks dropped their third consecutive contest.
Lehigh held a small lead throughout the first half, and stretched it out a bit by scoring the final five points of the period for a 39-33 edge at the break. Lehigh continued to hold the advantage early in the second half, scoring eight straight points for its biggest lead at 57-47 with 10:46 to play. The Leopards fought back from there, going on a 14-2 run to claim a 61-59 lead on a three-pointer by Bryce Scott with 6:52 to go. With the score tied at 64-64, Johnson took over in the final five minutes to lead the Leopards to victory. The senior canned back-to-back three-pointers to give Lafayette a 70-64 lead, and Dan Trist followed up with two straight buckets to complete a 10-0 run that put the Leopards up 74-64 with just 1:33 left on their way to the 79-71 win.
Johnson finished with a career-high 29 points, and the Patriot League leader in field-goal percentage was nearly perfect in that area by going 10-of-12 overall and 5-of-5 from three-point range. Trist added 14 points while Levi Giese scored 10. The Leopards were lights out in the second half, going 16-of-24 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range after intermission to finish at 28-of-54 overall and 11-of-25 from long range in the game. Lafayette limited Lehigh to just 4-of-15 from three-point range. The Leopards will host a Patriot League Tournament game for the first time since 2010. They are 11-3 at Kirby Sports Center this year, with 10 wins in the last 11 home games.
Holden Greiner did all he could for the Mountain Hawks with a career-high 27 points on 10-of-14 from the field. Gabe Knutson added 19 points and eight rebounds, while Mackey McKnight finished with 11. The trio combined to shoot 23-of-37 from the field, but the rest of the Mountain Hawks were just 6-of-18 in the game. Lehigh shot over 50% at 29-of-55, but was hurt by its three-point shooting. The Mountain Hawks are just 8-of-48 from three-point range in their three-game losing streak, which is their longest in Patriot League play since 2009.
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Senior Day at Bucknell provided a fitting send-off, as the class led by Mike Muscala, Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson helped the Bison (23-5, 10-2 Patriot League) to their third-straight Patriot League regular-season title with a 74-57 win over Holy Cross (11-16, 3-9) on Sunday at Sojka Pavilion.
Bucknell clinches at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season title for the third consecutive season, becoming only the fourth team to pull off that feat and first since Lafayette (1998-00). The Bison also join that Leopards' group as well as themselves and Holy Cross from 2005-07 as the only teams to win at least 10 Patriot League games in three straight seasons. Bucknell has gone 35-5 in the Patriot League over the last three years. With one more win, the Bison will become the first team in Patriot League history to win three consecutive outright regular-season titles.
Muscala and Willman led the way by combining for 39 points on 18-of-28 shooting and pulling down 16 rebounds on the day they were honored. Muscala had 25 points on 11-of-16 from the field and pulled down seven boards, while Willman finished with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and had nine rebounds.
The Bison never trailed in the game, opening things up early by taking an 18-8 lead less than 11 minutes into the contest. Bucknell led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Holy Cross got back to within 31-24 at the break. Bucknell pulled back away with an 11-2 run to open the second half, and went up by as many as 21 points as it coasted to the 74-57 win.
Cameron Ayers also finished in double figures with 15 points while making 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc. He is six points away from 1,000, and would join Muscala, Willman and Johnson to make the Bison one of just five teams with four 1,000-point scorers. Bucknell finished just under 50% from the field at 31-of-65, and had an outstanding 18 assists to just five turnovers. The Bison also owned the boards with a 40-28 advantage, and held Holy Cross to 6-of-19 shooting from long distance. Bucknell defeated the Crusaders at home for the third straight time, and swept the season series with Holy Cross for the second time in three years.
Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 16 points, Phil Beans had 15 and Cullen Hamilton added 10, but it wasn't enough to avoid a third-straight loss and eighth in the last nine games. Holy Cross has dropped its last four Patriot League road games and fell to 1-5 away from the Hart Center in League action. The Crusaders matched their highest loss total in Patriot League play with nine.
HAMILTON, N.Y. - Down by five at halftime, Colgate (11-18, 5-7 Patriot League) opened the second half on a 22-3 run and pulled away for a 59-46 win over Navy (8-20, 2-10) on Sunday at Cotterell Court.
Colgate won its fourth-straight against the Mids, sweeping Navy for the second year in a row. The Raiders, who are tied for fifth place with American, remain in the hunt for a home game in the Patriot League Tournament.
Navy scored the first nine points of the game, and led throughout the first half in opening up a 27-22 lead at the break. But it was all Colgate from there, as the Raiders took the lead with the first eight points of the second half and scored 12 in a row after a Navy basket as part of the 22-3 surge that made it 44-30 with 8:15 to go. Navy got back to within eight points with 1:35 to play, but the Raiders finished it off with the next seven points to score the 59-46 win.
Pat Moore led Colgate with 13 points, while Clayton Graham came up with the best game of his career with 10 points and eight rebounds. Luke Roh led the team with 12 rebounds and six assists. Colgate held a 46-28 edge on the glass, and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds in the game. The Raiders were just under 40% from the field at 21-of-53, but were better in the second half with a 13-of-29 clip that included 5-of-9 three-point shooting. Colgate limited Navy to 17-of-50 shooting and only 6-of-24 from the field in the second half. The Raiders have won two of their last three games, and have prevailed in their last four Patriot League home contests.
Tilman Dunbar led the Mids with 13 points and five assists, while Worth Smith added 10. Will Kelly had eight points in the game, but the rest of the Mids combined for just 15 on 4-of-23 shooting from the field. Navy lost for the 14th time in its past 16 games and eighth in the last nine contests.