March 6, 2012
PL TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
WHAT: #2 Lehigh (25-7, 11-3 PL) at #1 Bucknell (24-8, 12-2 PL)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 7, 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
LOCAL RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Lehigh, Bucknell Would ...
• ... win its fourth Patriot League championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history.
• ... make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the second time in program history.
• ... reach the 25-win plateau for the third time in program history (27 wins in 2005-06, 25 wins in 2010-11).
• ... improve to 25-8 overall.
• ... improve to 15-2 at home this season and 99-31 all-time at Sojka Pavilion.
• ... improve to 30-18 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament.
• ... improve to 6-2 against the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League Tournament.
• For the 14th time in 22 Patriot League Tournaments, it will be 1 vs. 2 in the final as top-seeded Bucknell hosts Lehigh on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison and Mountain Hawks have been league’s top two teams all season long, and Wednesday’s game will set a new league record for most combined wins (49) between the two contestants.
• Bucknell is making its second straight appearance in the Patriot League championship game and ninth overall. The Bison are 3-5 in their previous eight finals, with the wins coming in 2005, 2006 and 2011.
• Bucknell and Lehigh have met in the Patriot League Tournament seven times previously, but this will be their first clash in the championship game. They did meet in the East Coast Conference final in 1985, however, with Lehigh prevailing 76-74 in overtime.
• With Bucknell advancing through to the final, No. 1 seeds have now gotten to the championship game in all 22 years since the Patriot League’s inception.
• Both Bucknell and Lehigh have breezed into the championship game. The Bison became the first team in league history to win both its quarterfinal and semifinal games by more than 20 points, defeating Navy 87-63 and Lafayette 79-52. Meanwhile, Lehigh waltzed past Colgate 70-57 and American 85-66.
• Wednesday’s game also features arguably the two best players in the Patriot League, with Bucknell center Mike Muscala (2011) and Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum (2010, 2012) combining to win the last three Patriot League Player of the Year Awards. The two juniors have already combined for 3,325 points and 1,296 rebounds in just three seasons.
• Bucknell and Lehigh split the two regular-season meetings, with the road team winning both times. The Bison won 68-61 at Stabler Arena on Jan. 18. The Mountain Hawks then rallied for a 56-53 win at Sojka Pavilion on Feb. 16. McCollum’s 3-pointer with less than a second left handed the 10-0 Bison their first league loss of the season and ended the nation’s longest conference winning streak at 20.
• Bucknell entered the tournament mired in a four-game shooting slump (38.4%), but the Bison have broken out in the two tournament games against Navy and Lafayette. In those two contests the Bison averaged 83.0 points per game while shooting 54.1% from the field, 43.8% from 3-point range and 89.5% from the foul line.
• Bucknell is the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth time. In 1993, the Bison were the top seed but lost at home to Holy Cross in the championship game. In 2006, Bucknell completed a perfect 17-0 league season by beating Holy Cross in the final. And last season, the Bison went 13-1 in the regular season, then swept Army, Lehigh and Lafayette to claim the championship.
• Bucknell fared very well in the All-Patriot League voting last week. Muscala earned First Team All-Patriot League honors for the second year in a row (he was also a Second Team pick as a freshman in 2009-10). Bryan Cohen, Joe Willman and Cameron Ayers all earned Second Team All-Patriot League accolades, making Bucknell just the second team in league history to have four all-league players. Cohen also won his third straight Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year honor, making him the first player in league history to earn the same major award three times. Dave Paulsen repeated as Patriot League Coach of the Year, while Muscala and Bryson Johnson were named to the five-man Patriot League All-Academic Team.
• Bucknell enters the championship game having won 16 of its last 18, 20 of its last 23, and 24 of its last 30. Since Dec. 1, 2010, Bucknell is 47-11.
• Muscala is averaging 18.2 points over his last 22 games, despite scoring only two in limited minutes in the rout of Navy in the quarterfinals. Muscala is averaging 16.3 points per game on the season, fourth best in the Patriot League. The last Bison to average better than 16 points per game was Bryan Bailey (17.4) back in 2001-02.
• Muscala continues to lead the Bison in rebounding (8.8) and blocked shots (1.6). He leads the Patriot League in rebounding by a wide margin, and he has 14 double-doubles this season, the most in the league. He is two shy of the school record for double-doubles in a season. Muscala also has 11 20-point games this year.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Lehigh game will be televised live on CBS College Sports. Bob Socci and Vince Curran will have the call.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong and Terry Conrad describing the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com and SportsJuice.com.
• The game will also be carried on national radio airwaves by Westwood One. John Tautges and Alaa Abdelnaby will describe the action.
• Live statistics are available on GameTracker via BucknellBison.com.
Patriot League Success
• The Bison are 200-94 (.680) in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. Including this season, they have finished at least .500 in PL play in 18 of 22 seasons.
• This was Bucknell’s sixth Patriot League regular-season title (fourth outright).
• The victory at Lehigh on Jan. 18 made Bucknell the first Patriot League team to go 100 games over .500 in league play. The win over Navy to end the regular season made the Bison the first to reach 200 regular-season PL victories.
• The Bison won a league-record 23 straight contests against conference foes from Feb. 23, 2005 to Jan. 12, 2007.
• Bucknell had a streak of 35 straight wins at home against conference opponents come to an end in 2008.
• Bucknell had won 20 straight games against Patriot League foes, 17 in the regular season and three in the 2011 Patriot League Tournament, before falling to Lehigh on Feb. 16. The Bison were one of five remaining Division I conference unbeatens at the time.
Patriot League Tournament Success
• Bucknell has an all-time record of 29-18 (.617) in 22 Patriot League Tournaments and has beaten every team in the league at least once in the postseason.
• The Bison have reached the championship game eight times, including wins in 2005, 2006 and 2011, and reached at least the semifinals in 17 of 22 years.
• Bucknell is 15-2 on its home floor in Patriot League Tournament games. The only losses came in the 1993 championship game and 2010 quarterfinal round, both against Holy Cross.
Bison PL Tourney Log
Year Seed Results
1991 4 def. Army 67-49; lost Fordham 82-76
1992 2 def. Army 74-55; def. Holy Cross 86-77; lost Fordham 70-65
1993 1 def. Lehigh 69-65; def. Colgate 75-73; lost Holy Cross 98-73
1994 5 lost Holy Cross 96-91
1995 2 lost Army 94-78
1996 4 def. Lafayette 56-55; lost Colgate 67-61
1997 2 def. Lehigh 84-54; def. Colgate 71-58; lost Navy 76-75
1998 3 def. Holy Cross 60-56; lost Navy 80-61
1999 3 def. Holy Cross 76-52; def. Lehigh 58-50; lost Lafayette 67-63
2000 3 lost Lehigh 73-62
2001 6 def. Colgate 75-68; lost Navy 88-64
2002 3 def. Army 70-59; lost Holy Cross 64-57
2003 5 def. Lehigh 52-47; lost Holy Cross 75-50
2004 4 def. Holy Cross 66-60; lost Lehigh 60-45
2005 2 def. Lafayette 70-34; def. American 53-35; def. Holy Cross 61-57
2006 1 def. Army 59-47; def. American 64-50; def. Holy Cross 74-59
2007 2 def. Navy 62-43; def. Army 68-47; lost Holy Cross 74-66
2008 7 def. Navy 87-86 (3OT); lost Colgate 54-40
2009 7 lost Holy Cross 75-56
2010 2 lost Holy Cross 67-64
2011 1 def. Army 78-51; def. Lehigh 66-64; def. Lafayette 72-57
2012 1 def. Navy 87-63; def. Lafayette 79-52
Bucknell vs. Lehigh
• Bucknell has played more games (157) and won more games (97) against Lehigh than any other school. The Bison have a 97-60 lead in a series that originated in 1902.
• Since the start of Patriot League play in 1990-91, Bucknell holds a 37-14 advantage, including a 20-4 mark at home.
• Lehigh is responsible for snapping Bucknell’s 35-game home winning streak against Patriot League foes. The Bison had not lost to a conference opponent at Sojka Pavilion in nearly five years, until the Mountain Hawks won 56-54 in Lewisburg on Jan. 30, 2008.
• Lehigh also won the first game ever played in Sojka Pavilion, a 60-56 decision on Jan. 15, 2003. Including that game, Bucknell is 8-3 against the Mountain Hawks in Sojka.
• Bucknell went 3-0 against Lehigh last season, including an exciting 66-64 victory in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals. fíIn the first meeting of this season, Muscala logged 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Bison rode a terrific defensive effort to a 68-61 win at Stabler Arena back on Jan. 18. Cameron Ayers tallied 13 points, including the clinching free throws with 20 seconds left, Bryan Cohen added 12 points and Joe Willman had 11 for the Bison, who had 17 assists on 20 field goals and committed only eight turnovers. Ayers and Cohen also played strong defense on Lehigh star C.J. McCollum. McCollum, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer at 21.2 points per game coming in, was held to 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting. McCollum did have nine assists, but he was held to just four second-half points. Overall, Bucknell held Lehigh to 35.6% shooting and became the first team all season (and one of only two to date) to keep the Mountain Hawks under the 70-point mark.
• In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion on Feb. 16, the nation’s longest conference winning streak came to an end when McCollum hit a 3-pointer with eight-tenths of a second remaining, lifting the Mountain Hawks to a 56-53 verdict. The Bison had won 20 straight Patriot League games dating back to last season, and their 12-game overall winning streak also came to an end, despite double-doubles from Willman and Muscala. After the Mountain Hawks battled back from a seven-point deficit, McCollum, who had been held to just three field goals all night, dribbled the clock all the way down before hitting a contested 3-pointer with less than a second to go. McCollum finished with 15 points, while Willman paced the Bison with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell broke open a two-point game with a 25-7 run over the last 10 minutes of the first half and went on to rout Lafayette 79-52 on Saturday at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison led 40-20 at the break despite shooting just 35.3% from the field in the first half, but then they shot 62.5% in the second half and led by as many as 32 at one point.
• Lafayette was coming off a 13-for-19 effort from 3-point range in a quarterfinal road win over Holy Cross, and the Leopards were one of the nation’s top-ranked 3-point shooting teams coming in. But the Bison stymied Lafayette’s deep threats for the most part. The Leopards were 1-for-9 in the first half and 7-for-24 in the game, including two late treys in mop-up time in the last two minutes. With three minutes to play, the high-scoring Leopards were stuck on 41 points, and the Bison held them to 35.2% shooting in the game.
• Joe Willman had another terrific night with 18 points and seven rebounds, giving him 36 points in the two tournament games. Willman went 8-for-8 from the foul line, setting career highs for makes and attempts.
• Mike Muscala also tossed in 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Muscala, who made a key first-half 3-pointer to help Bucknell gain some separation, played only 23 minutes in the game.
• Bryson Johnson and Brian Fitzpatrick keyed a strong performance from the bench. Johnson knocked down three 3-pointers and scored nine points, while Fitzpatrick had eight points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Fitzpatrick went 4-for-4 from the field and is now 7-for-7 in the tournament.
• Bucknell set a Patriot League Tournament record by going 19-for-19 from the foul line. It was Bucknell’s fourth perfect foul-shooting night of the year.
Bucknell as the No. 1 Seed
• This is the second straight year and fourth time overall that Bucknell has been the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. In three other seasons, the Bison earned co-regular season titles but lost out on the No. 1 seed on tiebreakers.
• Bucknell is 10-1 while playing as the No. 1 seed.
• In 1993, the Bison were seeded No. 1 but lost at home to Holy Cross in the championship game.
• This is the first time that Bucknell has been seeded No. 1 in back-to-back seasons.
No. 1 Seeds in Tournament History
• The No. 1 seeds have dominated throughout the 22-year history of the Patriot League Tournament. The top seed has never failed to reach the championship game, and it has won the title in 16 of 21 seasons, including each of the last five. • No. 1 seeds are 53-5 all-time in the tournament.
• The last time a No. 1 failed to win the title was Holy Cross in the 2005 tournament, when No. 2 Bucknell beat the Crusaders in the championship game at the Hart Center.
• In Patriot League Tournament history, no seed lower than a No. 2 has ever won the championship. No seed lower than a No. 3 had ever reached the final until last year, when No. 6 Lafayette won twice before falling at Bucknell in the title game.
Stats Worth Noting
• At the end of the regular season Bucknell was averaging 4.0 steals and 9.7 forced turnovers per game, but the Bison have doubled those figures in the postseason. In the two Patriot League Tournament games, they are averaging 8.0 steals and 19.0 forced turnovers per game.
• Last year senior point guard Daryl Shazier racked up 185 assists, third most in program history. This year the Bison have replaced that production by committee. For the first time ever, Bucknell has six different players with at least 50 assists in a season: Bryan Cohen (78), Steven Kaspar (75), Cameron Ayers (59), Ryan Hill (54), Mike Muscala (53), Joe Willman (52).
• Bucknell is now 16-2 since point guard Ryan Hill joined the starting lineup.
• The Bison were 16-0 when leading at the half before suffering their first such loss against Lehigh on Feb. 16. The Bison led 29-27 at the break in that one. They are now 19-1 when leading at the half on the season.
• The Bison have shot 50% or better from the field 13 times this season and are 13-0 in those games. Nationally, Bucknell ranks 49th in FG%, 20th in 3FG% and 6th in FT%.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in both field goal percentage (.466) and field goal percentage defense (.392). The latter figure ranks 21st nationally.
• In the last 18 games, Bison opponents are shooting 37.4% (350-937). Only five of those 18 teams (Dartmouth, Army, Lafayette twice, Navy) have eclipsed 40%.
• If the season ended today, Bucknell’s scoring defense of 60.5 would rank seventh in program history.
• Bucknell has been dominant on the glass for most of the year. After going -15 in rebound margin against Minnesota and Vanderbilt to start the season, the Bison are +218 since then and have outrebounded every opponent except Syracuse, Loyola, Lehigh, American and Holy Cross. Bucknell’s +6.7 rebound margin for the season is by far the best in the Patriot League and ranks 16th nationally.
• A big part of Bucknell’s rebounding success has been limiting opponents’ second chances. The Bison have held 23 of their 32 foes to eight or fewer offensive rebounds.
• Bucknell has been better at the free-throw line of late. After shooting just 68.5% at the line in their first 10 games, the Bison have made 80.3% (350-436) as a team in the last 22 contests. That includes a 21-for-21 performance in the win over Richmond, 19-for-19 in the semifinal win over Lafayette, 15-for-15 in the regular-season road win at Lafayette, and 10-for-10 in the win at Navy. Bucknell ranked third in the nation in free-throw shooting last season at 78.8%, and after the slow start the team is up to No. 6 nationally at 76.8% this season.
Who’s Got Next?
• Should Bucknell defeat Lehigh in the championship game, the Bison will find out their NCAA Tournament destination on Sunday evening when the brackets are announced live on CBS.
• If Lehigh wins on Wednesday, Bucknell is at least guaranteed an NIT berth. Again, the Bison would learn their postseason matchup on Sunday night.