Bucknell and Lehigh to play for Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG Lehigh's C.J. McCollum had 27 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, and went over 2,000 career points.
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG
Lehigh's C.J. McCollum had 27 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, and went over 2,000 career points.
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG

March 3, 2012

Center Valley, Pa.- The past two Patriot League men's basketball champions will play for the crown again in 2012, as No. 1 seed Bucknell and No. 2 seed Lehigh each won by double figures at home in their semifinal contests in the Patriot League Tournament on Saturday.

The Mountain Hawks took the lead against No. 3 seed American with an 8-0 run to close the first half, then blew it open with a 17-3 second-half surge to pull away for an 85-66 victory at Stabler Arena. C.J. McCollum led Lehigh with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and became the fourth player in Patriot League history to go over 2,000 career points in the win.

The Bison outscored Lafayette 20-5 to turn a close game into a 40-20 halftime lead, and went on to a 79-52 win at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell becomes the first team in Patriot League history to win both its quarterfinal and semifinal contest by 20 points or more.

Lehigh will play at Bucknell for the Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, which also broadcast both of Saturday's semifinal contests.

The Mountain Hawks are playing for their third title and second in three years after winning it all in 2010, while the Bison are trying to repeat as Patriot League champion for the second time and win their fourth crown overall after beating Lafayette for the League title last season. Lehigh is in the Patriot League Championship game for the third time. Bucknell will play in the League title contest for a ninth time, and fifth in the last eight seasons.

It is the first time that two teams with at least 24 victories will play for the Patriot League title, as Lehigh comes in at 25-7 and Bucknell holds a 24-8 mark. The top two seeds will match up in the Patriot League title contest for the 13th time, and first since 2009. The No. 1 seed has won the last six Patriot League titles, a run that began with Bucknell in 2006.

American saw its season come to an end with a 20-11 record, falling in the semifinal round for the third year in a row. Lafayette concludes its campaign with a 13-18 record, coming up a game short in its bid for a third straight trip to the Patriot League title contest


 

 

Links to recaps and box scores from Saturday's contests and a full recap of each game will be added later in the evening.

at #1 Bucknell 79, #5 Lafayette 52
Box Score | Video Highlights Video | CBS Wrapup Video

Lewisburg, Pa.- Top seed Bucknell (24-8) put together another dominant performance by blowing the game open late in the first half and rolling to a 79-52 win over #5 Lafayette (13-18) in a Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal on Saturday at Sojka Pavilion.

The Bison advance to the Patriot League Championship for the second time in a row and ninth overall, and will play for their fourth League title on Wednesday at home against #2 Lehigh. Bucknell becomes the first team in Patriot League history to win by 20 points or more in both the quarterfinal and semifinal round, beating Navy 87-63 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Lafayette saw its season come to an end in the semifinals after making it to the Patriot League Championship in each of the last two seasons.

For the second straight tournament game, the Bison never trailed as they built the lead early and expanded it late in the first half. Bucknell was ahead 15-13 with just over 10 minutes to play until halftime, then dominated the rest of the period with a 25-7 stretch to take a 40-20 lead at the break. Lafayette started the second half on a 12-4 run to get back within 44-32, but Bucknell came right back with 26-6 stretch to build the lead to 31 before settling on the 79-52 final.

Joe Willman and Mike Muscala patrolled the paint for the Bison with 18 points apiece, while Cameron Ayers scored 12. Bucknell made all 19 of its free-throw attempts, setting a League Tournament record for free-throw percentage one game after it set the mark for field-goal percentage in a Tournament contest. Bucknell hit 27-of-58 shots from the field in the game, including 15-of-24 in the second half. The Bison dominated the boards with a 37-25 advantage, and forced 16 Lafayette turnovers while committing only 10 of their own. Bucknell improved to 9-8 in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament. The Bison knocked the Leopards out of the Patriot League Tournament for the second straight year after beating Lafayette in the 2011 League Championship. Bucknell won its seventh straight against Lafayette overall, and defeated the Leopards at home for the 14th straight time. The Bison have won four in a row overall since a two-game losing skid.

With the win, the No. 1 seed has still made it to the Patriot League Championship each season in the League's 22-year history.

Ryan Willen led Lafayette with 11 points, while Rob Delaney had 10. The seniors were part of an accomplished group that played their final game at Lafayette, with Jim Mower and Nick Petkovich also taking part in their last contest. The Leopards struggled shooting overall (19-of-54) and from three-point range (7-of-25), one game after breaking a Patriot League Tournament record for three-point field-goal percentage.

at #2 Lehigh 85, #3 American 66
Box Score | Video Highlights Video | CBS Wrapup Video

Bethlehem, Pa.- Second-seed Lehigh (25-7) closed the first half with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good and then used a 17-3 stretch in the second half to pull away for an 85-66 win over third-seed American (20-11) on Saturday at Stabler Arena in a semifinal contest of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Mountain Hawks move on to the Patriot League Championship for the third time, and second in the past three years. They will visit No. 1 seed Bucknell with the League title on the line Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

American had its season come to an end in the semifinals for the third year in a row, losing at Lehigh in the round for the second time in those three years.

The game was tight throughout the first half, and American took a 28-26 lead with 2:17 to go in the period. Lehigh answered with consecutive three-pointers by Mackey McKnight and B.J. Bailey and a bucket by Stefan Cvrkalj to score the final eight points of the half and take a 34-28 lead at the break. The Mountain Hawks pushed the lead to 46-36 with 13:48 left, then started the 17-3 run that widened the gap to 63-39 with 7:56 to go on their way to the 85-66 win.

It was a memorable night for Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum, as the junior guard led Lehigh with 27 points and 10 rebounds and in the process became the fourth player in League history to surpass 2,000 career points. McCollum made 10-of-16 shots and also dished out six assists in the game. McKnight came through with 14 points and seven assists, while Holden Greiner also added 14. Lehigh finished over 50 percent from the field at 32-of-59, and also made 10-of-23 shots from beyond the arc. The Mountain Hawks had a great night on the boards with a 44-26 rebounding advantage. Lehigh improved to 3-1 in the Patriot League Tournament against American, with all of the wins coming at home. The Mountain Hawks have won the Patriot League title in their previous two trips to the championship game.

Charles Hinkle and Troy Brewer each concluded their career at American with a 15-point game. Tony Wroblicky had 14 points while Daniel Munoz had 11 with six assists, but the rest of the Eagles combined for only 11 points in the game. American had 12 assists with just seven turnovers, but was hurt on the glass and shot just 23-of-63 overall and 8-of-25 from three-point range. The Eagles finished with a 20-win season for the second consecutive year.