Bucknell, Lehigh, American and Lafayette Advance in Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG C.J. McCollum set a Patriot League Tournament record with seven steals in Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Colgate.
C.J. McCollum set a Patriot League Tournament record with seven steals in Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Colgate.

Feb. 29, 2012

Center Valley, Pa. - It was deja vu all over again in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, as Bucknell, Lehigh, American and Lafayette moved on to the semifinals for the second year in a row.

The Bison, Mountain Hawks and Eagles all won comfortably at home for the second straight season, while Lafayette defeated Holy Cross on the road for the second straight year. The games set up Saturday's semifinal round as No. 3 seed American at No. 2 Lehigh at 2 p.m. and No. 5 Lafayette visiting No. 1 Bucknell at 4:30 p.m., with both games on CBS Sports Network.

The top-seed Bison pulled away late in the first half for an 87-63 win over No. 8 seed Navy. Lehigh used a 15-0 run in the second half to break open its game with No. 7 Colgate on its way to a 70-57 win over the Raiders. American took a 23-11 lead at the half and was up by double digits throughout the second half of a 57-40 win over No. 6 seed Army. Lafayette and Holy Cross provided the tightest game in the second half, but the No. 5 seed Leopards went on a 16-6 run to break open a tied contest and down the No. 4 Crusaders 84-76 in Worcester.

Bucknell, American and Lafayette never trailed in their victories, while Lehigh was down just once by one point early against Colgate. With American's victory, the Patriot League has three teams with 20-win seasons for the first time.

Four Patriot League Tournament records went down on Wednesday. Lehigh junior guard C.J. McCollum, the Patriot League Player of the Year, set a record with seven steals. Bucknell set a League Tournament mark by making 62.7 percent of its field-goal attempts (32-of-51), while Lafayette set a record with a 68.4 percent rate from beyond the arc (13-of-19). Bucknell and Navy also had the highest field-goal percentage for two teams at 58.2 percent (53-of-91).

Links to recaps and box scores from Wednesday's quarterfinal games are included below, along with a synopsis of each contest.

at #1 Bucknell 87, #8 Navy 63
Box Score

Lewisburg, Pa. - No. 1 seed Bucknell (23-8) closed the first half with a 28-10 stretch and led comfortably from there in an 87-63 win over No. 8 Navy (3-26) in the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion.

The defending Patriot League champion Bison advance to the semifinal round for the second year in a row. The No. 1 seed has made it to every Patriot League Championship.

The Bison held a slim 13-11 lead midway through the first half, but took over from there. Bucknell built the lead to double digits for good with four minutes to go in the period, and outscored Navy 13-2 into intermission to build a 41-21 lead at the break. Bucknell went ahead by as many as 31 points late in the second half before Navy chipped away for the 87-63 final.

It was a balanced effort for the Bison, led by Joe Willman with 18 points on 8-off-11 from the field. Bryson Johnson added 15 points on 5-of-7 from three-point range, while Cameron Ayers scored 10. The Bison got 14 players into the game with no one seeing more than 25 minutes of action on a night where first-team All-Patriot League pick Mike Muscala had just two points on 1-of-3 from the field. The Bison set a Patriot League Tournament record for field-goal percentage at 62.7 percent (32-of-51), and were also hot from three-point range (8-of-15) and the foul line (15-of-19). The Bison held a 23-18 rebounding advantage and dished out 20 assists. Bucknell also forced 22 Navy turnovers. It improved to 17-5 in the Patriot League quarterfinals, and beat Navy for the fifth consecutive time.

The Mids had a solid night shooting the ball, making over 50 percent of their shots (21-of-40) with a 10-of-22 clip from three-point range. Isaiah Roberts led Navy with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 from the field, and also had a team-high five assists. The Mids were eliminated in the quarterfinal round for the 11th year in a row, and end the season with 22 consecutive losses.

#5 Lafayette 84 at #4 Holy Cross 76
Box Score

Worcester, Mass. - For the second straight season, Lafayette (13-17) won on the road at Holy Cross (15-14) in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals as the No. 5 seed Leopards never trailed in an 84-76 win over the No. 4 Crusaders on Wednesday at the Hart Center.

Lafayette, which is trying to get back to the Patriot League title game for the third year in a row, won in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. The Leopards have eliminated the Crusaders in three consecutive years, also doing so in the 2010 semifinals in Easton.

The hot-shooting Leopards took a big lead in the first half, as they hit 8-of-12 three-pointers in the period and built a 39-25 advantage with less than five minutes to play in the period. Holy Cross answered with a 13-3 run and was within 43-38 at the break, and continued to chip away in the second half until it tied the score at 56-56 with 11:25 to play in the game. But the Leopards would never fall behind, as they re-gained the lead for good with five straight points and later went on an 11-2 run to go ahead 72-62 with 5:17 to play. Holy Cross would get as close as 76-73 in the final minute, but the Leopards went 8-for-8 at the free throw line down the stretch to go on to the 84-76 win.

It was a banner night for a deep Lafayette senior class, led by Rob Delaney with 25 points on 8-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 from three-point range. Jim Mower followed with 18 points and hit 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, while Ryan Willen had 12 points and seven rebounds and made 8-of-9 free throws. Lafayette's seniors scored 64 of the team's 84 points in the game. The Leopards were 13-of-19 from three-point range, coming one shy of the League Tournament record for three-pointers made and easily setting the record for three-point field goal percentage at 68.4. Lafayette made 24-of-41 field goals overall for a 58.5 percent clip, and hit 23-of-29 free throws for the game with a 20-of-25 showing in the second half. The hot-shooting helped the Leopards overcome 19 turnovers in the game. Lafayette wins its third straight game at Holy Cross, including the pair in the postseason, after losing eight in a row in Worcester. The Leopards advance to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament for three years in a row for the first time since going in four straight seasons from 1997-00.

The Crusaders were dealt a heartbreaking loss to the Leopards for the third straight Patriot League Tournament, falling by single digits in each contest. R.J. Evans led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Devin Brown concluded his career with 17 points and five steals. Dave Dudzinski added 16 points in the game. Holy Cross held a 28-24 edge on the boards, including 14 on the offensive glass. It falls in the quarterfinal round in consecutive seasons for the first time since dropping four straight from 1997-00. Holy Cross saw its six-game winning streak come to an end.

#2 Lehigh 70, #7 Colgate 57
Box Score

Bethlehem, Pa. - Second-seed Lehigh (24-7) used a 15-0 second-half run to pull away from No. 7 Colgate and defeat the Raiders 70-57 on Wednesday at Stabler Arena in a quarterfinal of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Mountain Hawks move on to the semifinals for the third straight season, pulling off the feat for the first time since 2004-06. Lehigh won its sixth straight game and 10th in the past 11 contests. Colgate (8-22) drops its quarterfinal contest for the third year in a row.

Lehigh trailed for only 13 seconds early in the first half, but could not put Colgate away until after intermission. The Mountain Hawks closed the first half with an 8-2 run for a 33-26 lead at the break, and were still up seven early in the second half when they went on the game-clinching run. Lehigh's 15-0 surge spanned nearly six minutes as it took a 55-33 lead with 9:20 to play in the game. Colgate got back to within nine in the final two minutes, but Lehigh responded with eight straight points to ice the 70-57 win.

It was a rare night where Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum did not lead Lehigh in scoring, as Mackey McKnight paced the Mountain Hawks with 16 points. McCollum followed with 15 points, and also set a Patriot League Tournament record with seven steals along with five rebounds and four assists. Jordan Hamilton scored 13 points while B.J. Bailey had 10 as four Mountain Hawks scored in double figures. Lehigh forced 22 turnovers while committing only nine of its own to win a game where it shot 24-of-63 overall and 8-of-25 from three-point range. The Mountain Hawks won all three games against Colgate this season.

Sterling Melville led Colgate with 21 points in his last collegiate game, making 6-of-11 shots and 7-of-9 free throws. No other Colgate player finished in double figures, as Mike Venezia and Pat Moore were next with seven points. The Raiders shot a solid 14-of-17 at the foul line, but were 19-of-46 from the field and 5-of-16 from beyond the arc. Colgate held a 39-32 edge on the boards.

at #3 American 57, #6 Army 40
Box Score

Washington, D.C. - American (20-10) remained perfect in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament, as the No. 3 seed Eagles led from start to finish in a 57-40 win over No. 6 Army (12-18) on Wednesday at Bender Arena.

American has won in the quarterfinal round in all 11 of its Patriot League seasons. The victory also gives the Patriot League three 20-win teams in a season for the first time. Army fell in the quarterfinals for the third year in a row.

The Eagles put on a defensive clinic in the first half. They scored the first six points of the game and held Army scoreless for more than five minutes to start the contest, and closed the period with a 12-2 run for a 23-11 halftime lead as the Black Knights did not make a field goal for the final 9:45. The surge continued with the first six points of the second half, and American led by double digits throughout the period to take the 57-40 win.

Daniel Munoz had 11 points to lead the Eagles, and also topped the team with four assists. Charles Hinkle just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. American limited Army to 15-of-57 from the field and just 4-of-26 from three-point range, winning a game where it shot under 40 percent from the field. The Eagles held Army to 4-of-24 from the field and 1-of-11 from three-point range in the first half alone as they built the lead. It was the 18th Patriot League Tournament for American Head Coach Jeff Jones, one off the League record held by former Bucknell Head Coach Pat Flannery. The Eagles defeated Army for the sixth straight time, and improved to 4-0 in the Patriot League Tournament against the Black Knights.

Ella Ellis closed his junior season with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Black Knights, though he made only 5-of-17 field goals. Julian Simmons added nine points in his final collegiate game. Army fell in four consecutive games to close out the season.