Bucknell Wins 2013 Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship Bison fend off Lafayette 64-56 to claim fourth title and second in last three years
March 13, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell took the lead in the first half and fought off numerous rallies by Lafayette after intermission to beat the Leopards 64-56 and win the 2013 Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion.
The Bison claim their fourth Patriot League title, and second in the last three seasons. Bucknell also sets a Patriot League and school record for victories by improving to 28-5 on the season. The Bison earn the Patriot League automatic berth to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, and will wait to find out their opponent and destination when the brackets are announced on Sunday at 6 p.m. on CBS.
Bucknell senior center Mike Muscala was named Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the title gsme and totaled 56 points and a Tournament-record 38 rebounds in Bucknell's three contests, posting a double-double in each game. Muscala becomes the first player in Patriot League history to win the Player of the Year and Tournament MVP trophy in two different seasons, also doing so when the Bison won the title in 2011.
Lafayette had its seven-game win streak come to an end, and fell to 19-15 for the season. The Leopards fell in the title game for the third time in the last four seasons, and lost to Bucknell in the championship for the second time in three years after falling to the Bison in 2011.
The game was back and forth early, with Lafayette inching out to a 10-8 lead under eight minutes into the contest. Bucknell began to put the clamps down defensively from there, going on a 16-4 run that gave them the lead for good at 24-14 with 2:51 to go in the half.
The Bison held a 26-18 lead at the break, and scored the first four points of the second half to build their biggest advantage of the day at 30-18. Lafayette responded, as the Leopards went on a 9-0 run and cut the deficit to 30-27 on a bucket by Joey Ptasinski with 14:42 to go. The game stayed tight over the next eight minutes, with Lafayette still down just three at 43-40 with 6:30 to go. Bucknell put on a decisive run from there, with Muscala and Joe Willman keying a 10-0 stretch that gave the Bison their biggest lead of the game at 53-40 with 3:09 to go. The Leopards would not go away as they cut the lead to 62-56 with 21 seconds left, but Ben Brackney drained a pair of free throws and the Bison went on to the 64-56 final.
Muscala made 8-of-16 shots and 4-of-4 free throws in his 20-point effort. He notched his NCAA-best 22nd double-double of the season. Willman put up an outstanding effort as well with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Cameron Ayers scored nine points and Ben Brackney added eight. Bucknell made an even 40% from the field at 22-of-55 and was just 2-of-9 from three-point range, but stepped up at the foul line with an 18-of-23 clip. The Bison had 14 assists with just five turnovers, led by Steven Kaspar with five dimes. Bucknell had just eight turnovers in its last two Patriot League Tournament games.
Ptasinski led the Leopards with 15 points, while Bryce Scott added 13 and Tony Johnson had 11. The Leopards matched the Bison at 22-of-55 from the field, but were off their usual game from long range with a 5-of-15 clip from beyond the arc.
In addition to Muscala, the Patriot League All-Tournament Team included Bucknell's Willman and Ayers, Lafayette's Johnson and Seth Hinrichs, and Lehigh's Holden Greiner.
Patriot League Championship Notebook
*Bucknell's four Patriot League titles are one behind Holy Cross for the most in League history.
*The Bison were playing in their 10th title game, tied with Holy Cross for the most all-time.
*All of Bucknell's titles have come in the past nine seasons.
*Muscala became the third two-time Patriot League Tournament MVP, joining Bucknell's Charles Lee (2005, 2006) and Ameican's Garrison Carr (2008, 09)
*It is the 10th time that the Patriot League Player of the Year went on to win the Tournament MVP trophy, with Muscala becoming the first to do it twice.
*Muscala is the seventh player to earn a spot on three All-Tournament teams.
*Ayers and Willman each made their second All-Tournament team.
*Muscala's 38 rebounds broke the previous Patriot League Tournament record of 31 set by three different players, and most recently by American's Patrick Doctor in 2002.
*With 11 rebounds, Muscala now has 368 this season, the 2nd highest single-season total in Patriot League history behind only Colgate's Adonal Foyle (372) in 1994-95.
*The previous Patriot League record of 27 wins was set by Bucknell (2005-06) and Lehigh (2011-12)
*Bucknell improved to 5-1 against Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament, with wins in each of the last three seasons
*The Bison are 2-1 against Lafayette in the title game with two wins in the last three years.
*Bucknell is a perfect 15-0 against Lafayette at Sojka Pavilion.
*Lafayette fell in the Patriot League title game for the third time in four years and is still searching for its first title since 2000.
*Lafayette Head Coach Fran O'Hanlon set a Patriot League Tournament record with his 32nd game coached.
*Bucknell's Dave Paulsen improved to 8-3 in the Patriot League Tournament, second all-time in winning percentage.
*The Bison have won seven consecutive games and 12 of the last 13 contests.
*Home teams are 17-4 in the title game, with seven wins in the last eight years.
*It was the 18th time in 23 League seasons that the No. 1 seed won the title.
*The No. 1 seed has a 9-5 advantage against the No. 2 in title contests.