Lafayette's Tony Johnson
Feb. 25, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- When last week started, Bucknell was in a tie for first place in the Patriot League. Now, the Bison have a two-game lead and are one win away from making League history.
With a victory in its regular-season home finale against American on Wednesday, or at Navy on Saturday, Bucknell would become the first team in League history to claim three straight outright regular-season titles, and just the second to earn the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament for three years in a row.
The Bison have already clinched at least a top-two seed in the League Tournament, with the other spot in that domain still up for grabs. Lafayette took a leg up on Sunday when it defeated rival Lehigh 79-71, and would earn the No. 2 seed in the tournament and chance to host in the semifinals by winning its final two games. The Leopards are at Colgate Wednesday.
Lehigh, which is tied for second with the Leopards, needs two wins and a Lafayette loss to reach the No. 2 spot. The Mountain Hawks host Navy on Wednesday.
The top three teams have already clinched home games in the League Tournament quarterfinals, with the last spot still up for grabs. Army has the inside track, and would seal its position with a win at home against Holy Cross on Wednesday.
All four of Wednesday's contests can be seen on Patriot League All-Access.
Patriot League Anaconda Weekly Awards (Feb. 18-24)
Anaconda Player of the Week
TONY JOHNSON, LAFAYETTE Sr., G, 6-0, 175; Folsom, Calif./Folsom
Johnson has put the Leopards on his back recently and has Lafayette into a tie for second place in the Patriot League after two brilliant performances last week. He had 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals in a 79-76 win at Holy Cross on Wednesday, and had two big plays in Lafayette's comeback effort. He got the Leopards to within three on a three-point play with 1:33 left, then hit the game-winning three-pointer with 3.5 seconds to go to send Lafayette to the win with a game-closing 9-0 run. Johnson was even better in a 79-71 win at home against rival Lehigh on Sunday, making 10-of-12 shots and all five three-point attempts while scoring a career-high 29 points along with four assists. With the score tied at 64-64 and under five minutes to play, Johnson made consecutive three-pointers to ignite a 10-0 run and put Lafayette ahead for good. Johnson had previously hit a game-winning shot with under five seconds left to send Lafayette to a 63-62 win over Bucknell on Feb. 16 and start the Leopards' three-game win streak. He leads the Patriot League in field-goal percentage (54.5%), steals (2.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2) while ranking third in assists (4.9) and fifth in free-throw percentage (79.8%). Johnson is named Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
Anaconda Rookie of the Week
CULLEN HAMILTON, HOLY CROSS Fr., G, 6-3, 185; Washington, D.C./Potomac (Va.)
Hamilton put up two strong efforts in defeat for the Crusaders. He had a career-high 18 points on 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range in a 79-76 loss to Lafayette on Wednesday, and also pulled down a career-high tying seven rebounds in the game. Hamilton followed that up with 10 points and four boards in a 74-57 loss at Bucknell on Sunday. Hamilton made 10-of-18 shots and 6-of-12 three-pointers on the week. He is named Patriot League Anaconda Rookie of the Week for the second time.
ELLA ELLIS, ARMY Sr., F, 6-7, 195; Houston, Texas/Eisenhower (USMAPS)
Ellis had 34 points, his highest career total in regulation, in a 77-63 win over Colgate on Wednesday and 15 in a 72-58 triumph at American on Saturday to average 24.5 points while shooting 66.7% from the field (16-of-24) and 57.1% from three-point range (8-of-14) last week.
MIKE MUSCALA, BUCKNELL Sr., F/C, 6-11, 239; Roseville, Minn./Roseville
Muscala had 12 points and nine rebounds in a 61-55 win at Lehigh on Monday and 25 points and seven boards on his Senior Day in a 74-57 victory over Holy Cross on Sunday. He averaged 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 56% (14-of-25) from the field for the week.
HOLDEN GREINER, LEHIGH Sr., F, 6-8, 210; Traverse City, Mich./St. Francis
Greiner averaged 22.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 62.1% (18-of-29) from the field in two losses for Lehigh last week. He had 17 points against Bucknell on Monday and a career-high 27 versus Lafayette on Sunday.
JUSTIN BURRELL, HOLY CROSS So., G, 5-9, 165; Dumfries, Va./Potomac
Burrell averaged 17.5 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 53.8% (14-of-26) from the field for the Crusaders last week.
Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*Bucknell can earn the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and outright regular-season title with a win against American Wednesday.
*The Bison are trying to become the first team to claim three straight outright regular-season titles and second to earn the No. 1 seed three years in a row.
*Bucknell would take the No. 1 seed for the fifth time overall, passing Holy Cross for the most in League history.
*Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh have secured home games in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament on March 6.
*Army can clinch the last home spot with a win or a Colgate loss Wednesday.
*The Black Knights are also trying to secure their first winning League record.
*Lafayette aims for its first four-game Patriot League win streak since 2010.
*The Leopards are trying to win nine League games for the first time since 2004 and fifth in school history.
*Lehigh is trying to win a ninth Patriot League game for the sixth time.
*Bucknell goes for its fourth straight season sweep of American.
*Lehigh (Navy) and Lafayette (Colgate) each aim for a third-straight season sweep of their opponent on Wednesday.
*Army hopes to sweep the season series with Holy Cross for the first time.
*The team trailing at halfitme has won six of the last 12 Patriot League games.
*Lafayette has come back from a halftime margin and a double-digit second-half deficit in each of its three consecutive wins.
Patriot League Notebook
Bucknell Goes for Top Seed, Patriot League History
Bucknell moved into a two-game lead in the Patriot League race on Sunday, and now the Bison close in on making Patriot League history this week. With a win over American on Wednesday, or at Navy on Saturday, Bucknell would become the first school to win the outright regular-season Patriot League title in three consecutive seasons. The Bison also aim to join Lafayette (1998-00) as the only schools to earn the No. 1 seed in the League Tournament in three consecutive years. Bucknell would take the No. 1 seed for the fifth time overall, passing Holy Cross for the most in League history. By winning their last two games, the Bison would become the first team to win at least 12 Patriot League games in three straight seasons and be 37-5 in League play in a three-year span, second to only their own run from 2005-07 (38-4) for the best in League history.
Three Quarterfinal Hosts Set, One More to Be Decided
Three of the four hosts are set for the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals on March 6, with two teams vying for the one remaining spot. Lafayette will host for the first time since 2010 after beating Lehigh on Sunday, and the Leopards will earn the No. 2 seed in the field and right to also host in the semifinals if they win their last two games. Bucknell and Lehigh are each hosting for the fourth year in a row, with the Bison needing just one win for their third straight No. 1 seed and right to play each postseason game at Sojka Pavilion. Army and Colgate are each still in play for the final spot to host in the quartefinals, with the Black Knights needing only one win in their final two games to secure a top-four seed for the first time since 2009. Colgate would have to win its final two games and have Army lose twice for a chance to host a game for the first time since 2008.
Comebacks, Drama Highlight Lafayette's Three-Game Win Streak
Led once again by senior Tony Johnson, Lafayette won yet another game in the final minutes when it beat Lehigh 79-71 on Sunday. The Leopards went on a late 10-0 run to break open a tie game in the last five minutes and earn the win. Johnson hit consecutive three-pointers to start the surge and finished with a career-high 29 points in the win. This coming after he hit game-winning shots in the final five seconds against Bucknell on Feb. 16 and Holy Cross on Wednesday. Lafayette rallied from 11 down against Bucknell and 13 against Holy Cross in the second half before coming back from a 10-point deficit in the last 10 minutes against Lehigh. Lafayette has won seven of its last nine games, and is one win away from its best League record 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. They posted a 72-58 victory at American on Saturday to set a number of historical firsts in Patriot League play. Army won a seventh Patriot League game for the first time in school history, and also guarantees its first non-losing record in League action. The Black Knights have their first four-game Patriot League win streak, and extended their school record of consecutive League road victories to four in a row. Army also won at American for the first time as a Patriot League member, and in turn sweeps the Eagles for the first time. On Wednesday, the Black Knights will try to sweep Holy Cross for the first time, lock up their first winning mark in Patriot League action and earn their first five-game win streak at any point in the year since 2006-07.
Reversing the Trends
Patriot League games have become much closer and more dramatic as the season has progressed. After only two teams rallied from halfitme deficits to win in the first 36 games, it has happened six times in the past 12 contests including three by Lafayette. Only five of the first 36 League games were within five points, but five of the past 12 have been that close. After the first eight completed Patriot League series ended in sweeps, seven of the last 12 have been split. The home teams are taking over, too. After the home/road split was 16-16 at one point, the home squads have surged ahead for a 27-21 advantage to date.
The 2012-13 season has displayed an outstanding group of seniors in the Patriot League. Bucknell's trio of Mike Muscala, Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson were all honored on Sunday at Sojka Pavilion, and they will not soon be forgotten. With 1,941 career points, Muscala is just 32 shy of Al Leslie's Bucknell scoring record. The trio has led a class with 87 victories, tying the class of 2007 for most in school history. Muscala is second in Patriot League annals in rebounds (1,032) and blocked shots (362) while leading the nation in double-doubles this season. Johnson is the all-time Patriot League three-point king (311), while all three are 1,000-point scorers. Three other seniors are enjoying fine finishes to their careers. Army's Ella Ellis is just three points shy of 1,500 for his career while standing second to Muscala in scoring this season, American's Stephen Lumpkins is third in Patriot League history in rebounds and among the leaders nationally this year and Lafayette's Tony Johnson leads the League in multiple categories and is enjoying an outstanding run of late. Not to be forgotten is Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, the injured all-time leading scorer in the Patriot League, and Lehigh's Gabe Knutson who stands 31st in League history in scoring.
Patriot League Games
American Eagles (10-17, 5-7) at Bucknell Bison (23-5, 10-2)
Sojka Pavilion; Lewisburg, Pa. - Wednesday, 7 p.m.
*Bucknell tries to earn its third-straight No. 1 seed and outright regular-season title when it hosts American on Wednesday.
*The Bison are aiming to become the first team in League history to win the outright title in three straight seasons.
*Bucknell would join Lafayette (1998-00) as the only schools to claim the No. 1 seed for three years in a row.
*Bucknell would take the No. 1 seed for the fifth time overall, passing Holy Cross for the most in League history.
*The Bison have won the last seven games against the Eagles, including a 56-55 win at Bender Arena on Jan. 30.
*Bucknell scored the last seven points of that game, winning on a bucket by Mike Muscala with 0.8 seconds remaining.
*Bucknell has swept the season series with American in each of the last three years.
*Six of the last eight meetings have been decided by six points or less.
*Bucknell has a 32-20 lead in the series, and is up 17-8 since American entered the Patriot League.
*The Eagles have never lost more than seven games in Patriot League play.
Lafayette Leopards (15-14, 8-4) at Colgate Raiders (11-18, 5-7)
Cotterell Court; Hamilton, N.Y. - Wednesday, 7 p.m.
*Lafayette tries to keep its roll going when it visits Colgate on Wednesday evening.
*The Leopards have won three straight and seven of nine to reach a tie for second place in the Patriot League.
*Lafayette can clinch the No. 2 seed in the League Tournament with a win and losses by Lehigh and Army.
*Lafayette dominated the Raiders in a 69-40 win at home on Jan. 30.
*The Leopards have won the last six games against the Raiders, with season sweeps in each of the last two years.
*Colgate has a 46-45 edge in the series, while leading the Leopards 28-17 in regular-season Patriot League games.
*The Raiders need two wins and two Army losses to have a chance to end up as the No. 4 seed in the League Tournament.
*Lafayette is trying to win a fourth-straight Patriot League game for the first time since 2010.
*A win would also give the Leopards nine wins in Patriot League action for the first time since 2004 and fifth all-time.
*A victory would give the Raiders their highest League win total since 2010, and a five-game League home win streak.
Navy Midshipmen (8-20, 2-10) at Lehigh Mountain Hawks (18-8, 8-4)
Stabler Arena; Bethlehem, Pa. - Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV: Service Electric 2 Sports
*Lehigh tries to get back on track when it hosts Navy on Wednesday night.
*The Mountain Hawks have dropped three straight Patriot League games for the first time since 2009.
*Lehigh has won its last six against Navy, including a 71-49 victory in Annapolis on Jan. 30.
*The Mountain Hawks have swept the season series with the Mids in each of the last two years.
*The Mids had previously swept Lehigh in 2010 before the Mountain Hawks' run of six in a row.
*Lehigh is trying to win nine Patriot League games for the sixth time, and third in the past four seasons.
*Navy has a 44-23 lead over Lehigh in the all-time series, with a 26-21 edge as Patriot League members.
*Lehigh needs two wins and a Lafayette loss to earn the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament.
*Navy will be the No. 8 seed in the League tourney unless it wins its final two games and Holy Cross loses twice.
Holy Cross Crusaders (11-16, 3-9) at Army Black Knights (14-13, 7-5)
Christl Arena; West Point, N.Y. - Wednesday, 7 p.m.
*Army tries to earn a top-four seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in school history when it hosts Holy Cross on Wednesday.
*The Black Knights finished in the top four in 2009, the last time they hosted in the quarterfinal round.
*Army has a school-record seven League wins, and would secure its first winning League mark by beating Holy Cross.
*The Black Knights also enter the contest with a school-record four consecutive League wins.
*They have not won five in a row at any point in the season since a six-game run in non-League play in 2006-07.
*Army posted an 80-66 win at Holy Cross when the teams met in Worcester on Jan. 30.
*The Black Knights are trying to sweep the season series with the Crusaders for the first time.
*Holy Cross leads the all-time series 57-18, with a 38-11 record since the teams entered the Patriot League.
*Holy Cross has never lost more than nine games in Patriot League play.
AMERICAN Two straight losses have put the Eagles in position to finish outside of the top four seeds in the Patriot League Tournament for the first time...American can still end up tied for fourth place in the standings, but can no longer finish as a top four seed and host in the quarterfinals of the League Tournament...American fell 72-58 at home against Army on Saturday after dropping a 50-44 contest at Navy on Wednesday...The Eagles are 5-7 in the Patriot League, matching their most-ever losses in League action...American was swept by Army for the first time...After the Eagles rallied to take a three-point lead early in the second half, Army went back ahead for good with a 9-0 run and pulled away later with a 22-4 stretch... Stephen Lumpkins led the Eagles with 10 points...It is just the fourth time the Eagles have lost seven games in League play in their 12 seasons...American closes its regular season on the road, visiting Bucknell on Wednesday and Lafayette on Saturday.
ARMY Army set a number of school historical standards, and more importantly strengthened its chances for a home game in this year's Patriot League Tournament, by making 13 three-pointers and pulling away in the second half for a 72-58 win at American on Saturday at Bender Arena...The Black Knights moved two games ahead of the Eagles and Colgate for fourth place in the standings...They need just one win or a Colgate loss to claim a home game in the quarterfinals on March 6...Army won a seventh Patriot League game for the first time in school history, and also guarantees its first non-losing record in League action...The Black Knights have their first-ever four-game Patriot League win streak, and extended their school record of consecutive League road victories to four in a row...Army also won at American for the first time as a Patriot League member, and in turn sweeps the Eagles for the first time...The Black Knights had lights out shooting once again, making 26-of-51 shots and 13-of-24 three-pointers in the game...Four players scored in double figures for Army, led by Ella Ellis with 15 and Kyle Wilson with 14...After falling behind by three early in the second half, Army scored the next nine points to take a 40-34 lead and later put together a 22-4 stretch to blow the game wide open as it went on to the 72-58 victory...The Black Knights dished out 19 assists on their 26 field goals and committed only 11 turnovers while forcing 16 by the Eagles...Three of Army's four consecutive wins have come by double digits, and the Black Knights have scored at least 70 points in seven of the last nine games...Army hosts Holy Cross Wednesday and visits Lehigh on Saturday on CBS Sports Network.
BUCKNELL Senior Day at Bucknell provided a fitting send-off, as the class led by Mike Muscala, Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson helped the Bison to their third-straight Patriot League regular-season title with a 74-57 win over Holy Cross 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 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 on the day they were honored...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 in the nation with four 1,000-point scorers...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...Bucknell goes for its third straight outright regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the League Tournament when it hosts American Wednesday, then visits Navy Saturday.
COLGATE Down by five at halftime, Colgate opened the second half on a 22-3 run and pulled away for a 59-46 win over Navy 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...Colgate trailed throughout the first half and was down 27-22 at the break, but roared back from there...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 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 have won their last four Patriot League home games as they welcome Lafayette on Wednesday, then finish the regular season at Holy Cross on Saturday.
HOLY CROSS Holy Cross fell behind early and could never get back into the game as it lost 74-57 at Bucknell on Sunday...The Crusaders dropped their third straight game, with the previous two coming in heartbreaking fashion on three-pointers in the final seconds...Holy Cross never led at Bucknell, falling behind by 10 points early and as many as 15 in the first half before cutting it to 31-24 at the break...The Bison opened the second half on an 11-2 run to pull back away and Holy Cross never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way... Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 16 points, Phil Beans had 15 and Cullen Hamilton added 10..Burrell averaged 17.5 points in two games last week, while Hamilton put up 14 points per contest to receive the Patriot League Anaconda Rookie of the Week award for the second time this season...Holy Cross has lost eight of its last nine games, and fell for the fourth straight time on the road to go 1-5 away from the Hart Center in League action...The Crusaders matched their highest loss total in Patriot League play with nine...They try to finish the season strong when they visit Army on Wednesday and host Colgate on Saturday.
LAFAYETTE It didn't happen in the final seconds this time, but Lafayette senior point guard Tony Johnson took over down the stretch once again as the Leopards used a late run to knock off rival Lehigh 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...Lafayette was down most of the way, including by as many as 10 points with 10:46 left...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...He averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game last week while shooting 75% from the field and 66.7% from three-point range...On Monday, Johnson was named Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week for the first time in his career...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...Lafayette goes on the road Wednesday at Colgate, then finishes the regular season at home against American on Saturday.
LEHIGH Lehigh lost a third-straight Patriot League game for the first time since 2009 as it fell 79-71 at Lafayette on Sunday...The Mountain Hawks also dropped a 61-55 final at home against Bucknell on Monday after losing 64-60 at Colgate last Saturday...Lehigh was swept in the season series by the Leopards for the first time since 2002 (excluding a sweep by forfeit in 2005) and falls into a second-place tie with Lafayette...The Mountain Hawks are out of the running for the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament...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...But Lafayette caught fire the rest of the way, taking the lead with a 14-2 run and then scoring 10 straight points after the score was tied at 64-64 to go on to the win...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...Lehigh shot over 50% at 29-of-55, but was hurt by its three-point shooting at 4-of-15...The Mountain Hawks are just 8-of-48 from three-point range in their three-game losing streak...Lehigh tries to get back on track at home this week against Navy on Wednesday and Army on Saturday.
NAVY The Mids got off to a fast start on Sunday at Colgate, but could not keep it up as they fell to the Raiders 59-46 at Cotterell Court... 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...However, Colgate stormed out of the locker room with a
22-3 surge to start the second half and went on to the 13-point win... 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...Kelly averaged 7.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in Navy's games last week...The Mids lost for the 14th time in its past 16 games and eighth in the last nine contests, though they had stopped a losing skid with a 50-44 win over American on Wednesday...Navy closes the season at Lehigh on Wednesday and at home against Bucknell on Saturday, needing to win both games for a shot to avoid being the No. 8 seed in the League tourney.