March 18, 2012
Reno, Nev. - Despite another outstanding performance from junior Mike Muscala, Bucknell could not dig out of an early hole and fell 75-67 at Nevada in a second round game of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on Sunday at Lawlor Events Center.
The Bison, who won the Patriot League regular-season title, conclude their season with a 25-10 record that included a first-round NIT win at Arizona on Wednesday. Muscala had 25 points and 15 rebounds in the defeat, and totaled 75 points and 38 rebounds in Bucknell's final three games.
Bucknell gave up the first six points of the game, and were behind 18-7 less than eight minutes into the contest. The Bison got back to within four late in the first half, but Nevada closed the period on a 10-1 run to take a 42-29 lead at the half.
The Bison stayed in touch throughout the second half, and rallied with an 8-2 run to get as close as 68-65 on a three-pointer by Bryson Johnson with 1:54 to go. It was still a 71-67 game with time winding down, but Johnson missed a three-pointer to come within one and Nevada closed out the win with four foul shots in the last 13 seconds.
Muscala made 8-of-15 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws in the game. Cameron Ayers came through with 21 points on 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from long range, but no other Bucknell player scored more than six points. The Bison shot 22-of-55 in the game and 8-of-25 from three-point range, but were a solid 15-of-17 at the foul line.
Nevada made an even 50 percent of its shots (24-of-48) and also hit 24-of-32 free throws. Oley Czyz led the Wolf Pack with 24 points on 7-of-10 from the field. The Wolf Pack, seeded fifth in the NIT bracket, will move on to face either Illinois State or Stanford in the quarterfinal round.
The Bison were seeded eighth in the bracket, with the win over the top-seed Wildcats on Wednesday as the third first-round NIT victory in Patriot League history. No Patriot League team has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NIT.
Bucknell finishes the season with 25 wins for the second straight season, its third 25-win year in school history.
For the Bucknell recap and box score from the game, click on the links below.
National Invitation Tournament (NIT)
at #5 Nevada 75, #8 Bucknell 67