CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Bucknell made Patriot League history on Wednesday night when its 66-47 win over American made the Bison the first team to win three consecutive outright regular-season titles and just the second to claim the No. 1 seed in the League Tournament in three straight years.
The Bison claim the No. 1 seed for the fifth time, the most in Patriot League annals, and fourth in the past eight years. They improved to 24-5 for the season and 11-2 in League action.
Lafayette, Lehigh and Army will all join Bucknell as hosts in the Patriot League quarterfinals next Wednesday, but the seeding between those squads is still up in the air after each team won on Wednesday. Lafayette maintains the inside track to the No. 2 seed with an 80-67 win at Colgate, while Lehigh beat Navy 72-43 and Army knocked off Holy Cross 69-62 to stay in the hunt for the second seed.
The Patriot League regular season concludes on Saturday with Army at Lehigh on CBS Sports Network, American at Lafayette and Colgate at Holy Cross all tipping off at Noon, while Bucknell visits Navy at 7 p.m. before the teams meet up in the quarterfinals next week.
A look at each team's possibilites for seeding in the Patriot League Tournament is included below.
Bucknell: The Bison have clinched the No. 1 seed and home court advantage in each round of the League tourney Lafayette: The Leopards will be the No. 2 seed with a win over American. If they lose, Lafayette would drop to the No. 3 seed. Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks can move to the No. 2 seed with a win over Army and Lafayette loss to American. Lehigh would be the No. 3 seed if Lafayette wins, regardless of its result against the Black Knights. The Mountain Hawks would fall to No. 4 with a loss to Army and a Lafayette loss to American. Army: The Black Knights can jump to the No. 2 seed with a win and a Lafayette loss to American. Army is the No. 4 seed if it loses to Lehigh or Lafayette beats American. American: The Eagles will be the No. 5 seed in the Patriot League Tournament if they beat Lafayette or Colgate loses at Holy Cross. They fall to the No. 6 with a loss and a Colgate win. Colgate: The Raiders can move up to the No. 5 spot with a win at Holy Cross and an American loss to Lafayette, but would be No. 6 if they lose or American wins. Holy Cross: The Crusaders are locked into the No. 7 seed. Navy: The Mids will be the No. 8 seed.
Recaps and box scores from Wednesday's games are included below, with a synopsis from each contest added later.
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell (24-5, 11-2 Patriot League) became the first team to win three consecutive outright regular-season titles as it put together a late run to pull away from American (10-18, 5-8) 66-47 on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion.
The Bison also join Lafayette (1998-00) as the only teams to earn the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, and own the all-time League record with a fifth No. 1 seed. Bucknell wins at least 11 Patriot League games for the third season in a row, sixth in the past eight years and ninth overall. It also sweeps the season series with American for the fourth year in a row.
Bucknell never trailed in the game, going ahead by as many as 10 points in the first half and holding a 29-20 lead at the break. American got as close as five points in the second half and it was an eight-point game with under eight minutes left before the Bison went on a 12-2 surge to pull away for the 66-47 win.
Mike Muscala had 21 points to lead the way, while Cameron Ayers scored 18 and Bryson Johnson had 16. Ayers joined Muscala, Johnson and Joe Willman in the 1,000-point club. The Bison have a quartet of 1,000-point scorers for the first time, and are just the fifth school in the nation to boast that accomplishment this season. Bucknell shot 47.1% from the field at 24-of-61, with Ayers and Johnson combining to go 5-of-8 from downtown and the team making 13-of-14 free throws. The Bison owned a 34-26 edge on the boards and limited the Eagles to 18-of-49 shooting and 1-of-9 from three-point range. The Bucknell senior class of Muscala, Johnson, Willman and Colin Klebon became the winningest class in program history with its 88th victory. The Bison also broke the program record for most wins in a three-year period with 74.
Tony Wroblicky led the Eagles with 13 points, but no other player scored more than seven. American was 10-of-12 at the free throw line and had only seven turnovers, but could not make enough shots to keep up. The Eagles will finish under .500 in Patriot League play for the first time in their 12-year history.
HAMILTON, N.Y. - Lafayette (16-14, 9-4 Patriot League) continued its roll by going on the road and earning an 80-67 win at Colgate (11-19, 5-8) on Wednesday at Cotterell Court.
The Leopards won their fourth-straight League game, their longest run since 2010, and have now won nine Patriot League games in a season for the first time since 2004 and fifth in school history. Lafayette has claimed wins in eight of its last 10 contests after a 1-2 start. The Leopards maintain the inside track for the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, and sweep the Raiders for the third year in a row by winning their seventh-straight over Colgate.
On a team with multiple contributors, a group of players stepped up on Wednesday as five scored in double figures for Lafayette. Tony Johnson led the way with 17 points, Seth Hinrichs had 15, Dan Trist scored 14, Joey Ptasinski had 12 and Bryce Scott finished with 10.
Lafayette scored the first eight points of the game, but Colgate battled back to lead 26-23 with eight minutes left in the first half. The Leopards closed the period with a surge, going on an 18-5 run to grab a 41-31 advantage at the break. Colgate would get as close as three points four times in the second half, including a 66-63 gap with under five minutes to play. Lafayette finally put the Raiders away from there, scoring the next eight points to go ahead by double digits and the final six to close out Colgate with the 80-67 margin.
The lights-out shooting of late continued on Wednesday for the Leopards. Lafayette was over 50% from the field at 29-of-56, and hit at an 11-of-20 clip from three-point range. The Leopards also made 11-of-12 free throws. They were efficient with 18 assists against only six turnovers.
Murphy Burnatowski led the Raiders with 24 points, making 9-of-16 shots from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range. He did not have much help, as none of the other Raiders had more than six points and the rest of the team combined to shoot 16-of-43 from the field and 3-of-14 from long range. Colgate held a slim 32-30 edge on the boards. The Raiders saw their four-game home Patriot League win streak come to an end and will finish in the bottom half of the League standings for the fifth year in a row.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh (19-8, 9-4 Patriot League) put an emphatic end to its three-game losing streak, going up by 19 points at halftime on its way to an easy 72-43 win over Navy (8-21, 2-11) on Wednesday at Stabler Arena.
The Mountain Hawks win a ninth Patriot League game for the sixth time and third in the last four years. Lehigh remains tied for second place in the League standings with Lafayette, though the Leopards own the tiebreaker. The Mountain Hawks sweep Navy for the third year in a row, winning the seventh-straight meeting between the schools.
Lehigh never trailed in the game, leading for all but two minutes early in the contest. The score was tight early as the Mountain Hawks were ahead by six nearly 11 minutes into the game, but Lehigh took over the rest of the way. It went on an 8-0 run to build a 24-10 lead, then closed the first half with the last eight points to take a 36-17 lead at the break. Lehigh would lead by at least 20 points for the final 15 minutes and go up by as many as 35 in the 72-43 win.
The Mountain Hawks had four players score in double figures, led by B.J. Bailey with 17 points while making 5-of-7 three-pointers. Stefan Cvrklaj added 12 while Holden Greiner scored 11 and Gabe Knutson finished with 10. Lehigh finished 54.1% from the field at 26-of-48, and had 20 assists on its 26 made field goals. The Mountain Hawks held a 30-22 edge on the boards and turned it over only seven times compared to 16 for the Mids. Lehigh limited Navy to 16-of-41 shooting and 5-of-17 from three-point range. With the victory, Lehigh head coach Brett Reed became the winningest coach in school history with 113, breaking a tie with Tony Packer.
Worth Smith paced the Mids with 11 points, but no other player had more than six. The Mids will play as the No. 8 seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the second year in a row.
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The best run in Army's Patriot League history continued as the Black Knights (15-13, 8-5 Patriot League) topped Holy Cross (11-17, 3-10) by a 69-62 final on Wednesday at Christl Arena.
Army guarantees its first winning record in Patriot League play, and extends its best Patriot League win streak to five in a row. The Black Knights will host in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2009, and finish as a top-four seed for just the second time in school history. The victory also assured Army of its first non-losing season since 1984-85, and gave it a regular eason sweep of the Crusaders for the first time.
The Black Knights were once again led by Ella Ellis, who scored 31 points and is closing the regular season with an outstanding run. It was the second time in the last three games where he has scored more than 30 points.
Army trailed by eight pionts with seven minutes left in the first half, but closed the period on a 16-6 stretch to lead 30-28 at the break. Holy Cross scored the first six points of the second half to re-claim the lead, with the game staying close throughout the period. Army went ahead for good with just under 10 minutes to play, and pushed its lead to six at 56-50 on a trey by Ellis with 5:02 to go. The senior hit another three with 3:35 left for a 60-54 lead, and Army would be up by at least four points the rest of the way in the 69-62 victory.
Ellis made all 13 of his free-throw attempts as the Black Knights hit 21-of-27 at the line to win a game where they were just 20-of-57 from the field and 8-of-25 from three-point range. Kyle Wilson added eight points and five assists in the game. Army held a 39-29 edge on the boards, overcoming some of the poor shooting by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. The Black Knights also had 13 assists with just nine turnovers in the game. It is is Army's first five-game winning streak since 2009-10.
The Crusaders fell for the fourth straight time and ninth in the last 10 contests, and will be the No. 7 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. It is the first time they have lost 10 games in League play. Phil Beans led the way with 16 points, while Dave Dudzinski scored 15, Justin Burrell had 12 points and seven assists and Jordan Stevens finished with 10. The Crusaders had a solid shooting night at 22-of-46 from the field, but the problems on the boards proved costly.