Late Run Pushes Bucknell Past Army in Patriot League Men's Basketball Semifinal Bison advance to Patriot League Championship for third year in a row
March 9, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Down by two points with under five minutes to play, top-seed Bucknell turned to its veterans and went on a 10-1 run to push past fourth-seed Army 78-70 in a Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal on Saturday at Sojka Pavilion.
The Bison (27-5) advance to the Patriot League title game for the third year in a row, sixth in the last nine seasons and 10th overall, tying Holy Cross for the most in League history. Bucknell will host second-seed Lafayette in the championship contest at home on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network as it looks for its fourth Patriot League title.
Bucknell was led as usual by senior center Mike Muscala, as the Naismith Award candidate put up 21 points and 14 rebounds for his second straight double-double in the League Tournament. He had five points and three boards in a critical stretch as Bucknell went on the late run to earn the victory.
Bucknell opened the game with an 11-5 lead just over four minutes into the contest, and the score remained steady throughout. Army made pushes and Bucknell answered each time in the first half, with the Bison holding a 36-31 advantage at the break.
It was much the same for most of the second half, with the Bucknell lead holding between one and seven points for the first 15 minutes. Army finally broke through for its first lead since the opening minutes when a three-point play by Kyle Wilson put the Black Knights up 61-59 with 4:52 to play. With the shot clock winding down on the next possession, Bryson Johnson put Bucknell back in front for good with a three-pointer with 4:15 to go. Cameron Ayers followed with a coast-to-coast layup for a three-point lead, and Muscala hit five consecutive free throws to complete the 10-1 run and give Bucknell a 69-62 advantage with 1:48 to play. Army would get no closer than five points the rest of the way as the Bison went on to the 78-70 win.
Muscala had his 21 points on 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-8 at the foul line, and became the fifth player in Patriot League history to go over 2,000 points in his career. He also pulled down 14 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive end. Ayers finished with 19 points on 8-of-16 from the field, while Johnson scored 12. The Bison were 47% from the field at 25-of-53, and hit key free throws all night with a 24-of-28 clip at the line. Bucknell held Army to 38% shooting (19-of-50) and a 5-of-18 night from three-point range.
Bucknell tied a Patriot League and school record with its 27th victory of the season. The No. 1 seed remains perfect in making it to the Patriot League Championship in each of the League's 23 seasons.
The Bison are 3-6 in the Patriot League Championship game, with wins in 2005, 2006 and 2011 when they beat Lafayette 72-57.
Army completed an outstanding turnaround season with a 16-15 record, its first winning mark since the 1984-85 campaign. Five players scored in double figures on Saturday, including Kyle Wilson with a team-high 21 points. Kyle Toth added 13 and Kevin Ferguson and Kyle Toomey each had 11 as Army's freshmen accounted for 56 of the team's 70 points. Ella Ellis also scored 11 in his final game for the Black Knights. Army had a 27-of-35 clip at the foul line, but could not make up for it struggles from the field. The Black Knights have still never made it to the Patriot League Championship.
Full recaps from the schools and the box score from the game are included below.