Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.7.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Tony Johnson and Lafayette play twice this weekend before entering a break for final exams.
Tony Johnson and Lafayette play twice this weekend before entering a break for final exams.

Dec. 7, 2012

Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.7.12 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - It was an impressive three days for Patriot League men's basketball teams, and now the squads try to keep the momentum going as they head towards exam breaks.

Five teams took the court Tuesday, and each of the four at home came away with a victory. Bucknell went into its exam break with a 76-60 win over Kent State, while Lehigh routed Fordham 81-63, Army won the battle of the Hudson Valley with a 91-57 triumph over Marist and Lafayette rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat St. Francis (Pa.) 61-58. American went on the road and fell to Howard 55-50.

Three more played on Wednesday, and it was another successful night with two victories on the road. Navy held a 53-29 advantage in the second half to race past Monmouth 85-66, while Holy Cross got a career-high 30 points from Justin Burrell for an 83-78 win at Sacred Heart. Colgate fell at Quinnipiac 67-56.

American capped the weekday slate with a 73-70 win in double overtime at UMBC on Thursday, giving League squads a 7-2 mark during the week.

Bucknell is now off until Dec. 15, a 10-day exam break before it hosts La Salle. All other teams have at least one more game remaining before taking an exam break of a week or more. Lehigh, Holy Cross and Colgate play their last game before the break on Saturday, while Lafayette and American will do so on Sunday and Navy on Monday.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*Seven Patriot League teams are in action this weekend, with five playing their final game before an exam break of a week or more.
*Patriot League teams are 39-33 overall, and 36-21 against DI teams outside of the BCS leagues.
*The Patriot League is a combined 31-11 against regional conferences including the America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC.
*Seven of the eight games this weekend are against those conferences.
*Patriot League teams are a combined 20-4 at home after wins by Lehigh, Bucknell, Army and Lafayette on Tuesday.
*Colgate, Holy Cross, American and Lafayette play at home this weekend.
*Seven of eight teams have won their most recent game, with Lehigh holding the longest streak at six wins in a row and Bucknell at three straight.
*Lehigh's C.J. McCollum is third in Division I with 24.4 points per game.
*Bucknell's Mike Muscala is seventh in Division I with 11.4 rebounds per game.
*Bucknell will not play again until Dec. 15, while every other Patriot League team has at least one more game before an exam break.
*After the weekend, Lehigh, American, Colgate, Lafayette and Holy Cross will join the Bison with a break for exams of a week or more.
*Navy's last game before a break is Monday, while Army plays three more times before its break following a matchup with Maine on Dec. 14.

Patriot League Notebook

Time to Study
Bucknell became the first Patriot League team to enter its exam break this week, as the win over Kent State on Tuesday was the last action for the Bison until they face La Salle on Dec. 15. Holy Cross, Lehigh and Colgate play their final game before exam breaks on Saturday, while Lafayette and American have their last action on Sunday. Navy plays on Monday before taking its exam break. Army still has three more games, and will not have its break until playing Maine on Dec. 14. All eight teams will be off for at least a week while the schools are in the final exam period.

Home Cooking
Patriot League teams are 20-4 on their home courts this year, and every squad has won at least once at home. It was another great night for the home teams on Tuesday as Lehigh, Bucknell, Army and Lafayettte all won. The Mountain Hawks improved to 4-0 at home, while Bucknell is 3-0 and Holy Cross and Army are each 2-0. Lehigh has an 11-game home winning streak dating back to last season, while Army has won six straight non-League home games since last year. Colgate and Holy Cross host opponents on Saturday while Lafayette and American play at home on Sunday.

Winning Against Regional Foes
Patriot League teams won seven of nine games during the week to bring the cumulative record of the eight squads to 39-33 for the season. Patriot League squads are 36-21 against Division I foes outside of the "Big-Six" conferences, and 31-11 against regional conferences including the America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC. Seven of the eight games on the weekend schedule will be against teams from the aforementioned conferences.

Out of Character
Navy and Holy Cross entered Wednesday's contests as the top defensive teams in the Patriot League, but each squad also came in averaging under 60 points per game. Both teams flipped the script to win games on the road. Navy had five players in double figures, including careers highs from Tilman Dunbar (20) and Thurgood Wynn (19), to pull away for an 85-66 win at Monmouth. The Mids scored 53 points in the second half alone, just three below their season average coming into the game. Holy Cross got a career-high 30 points from Justin Burrell in an 83-78 win at Sacred Heart. Both the Mids and Crusaders scored 29 points above their season average coming into the game.

Bucknell's Muscala Reaches Rare Air in Dominant Performance
Bucknell's Mike Muscala became the second player in Patriot League history to reach 1,500 points and 800 rebounds in his career on Saturday against Columbia, joining Colgate's Adonal Foyle (1994-97) in the exclusive club. It came in one of the best performances of his storied career as the senior tallied 29 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in a 65-57 win. Muscala averaged 23.0 points and 15.0 rebounds in two games last week to win the Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week award for the second time this year and sixth in his career. He was back at it again with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting in a 76-60 win over Kent State on Tuesday. Muscala is seventh in the country with 11.4 rebounds per game, and stands third in the Patriot League with 18.8 points per contest.

Offensive Fireworks from the Mountain Hawks
Lehigh is off to a 7-2 start, and the Mountain Hawks are doing it with one of the top offenses in the country in the first month of the season. Lehigh leads the Patriot League and sits on the national leaderboard in scoring (80.6), free-throw percentage (78.9%), field-goal percentage (48.2%) and three-point field goal percentage (43.9%). The Mountain Hawks also lead the Patriot League with 16.4 assists per game, two ahead of any other team in the conference. As expected, senior C.J. McCollum is leading the way with 24.4 points per game, good for third in the nation. He has Patriot League career records of 2,294 points, 99 double-figure scoring games and 585 free throws, and is just seven made field goals from the League record.

Lehigh's Reed Becomes Fastest to 100 Wins
Lehigh Head Coach Brett Reed became the fastest Patriot League coach to reach 100 wins when he did it in his 165th game on Saturday against Fairleigh Dickinson. Reed was one game quicker than former Holy Cross Head Coach Ralph Willard. He becomes the eighth Patriot League coach from a seventh different school to cross the 100-win mark.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN American tied the score late in regulation and scored the last four points in the second overtime to win at UMBC 73-70 on Thursday...The Eagles were up eight points at halftime in the back-and-forth game...They fell behind by four in the second half, then used an 8-0 run to take a 54-50 lead with 7:15 to play...UMBC came back to go ahead 62-60 with 1:28 left, but the Eagles were able to send the game to overtime on a layup by Daniel Munoz with 32 seconds to play...UMBC tied the score in the first overtime in the final minute, and took a 70-69 lead with 3:21 to play in the second overtime...American did not allow another point, with John Schoof hitting the game-winning free throws with 2:06 to play and adding two more with 10 seconds left as American held on for the 73-70 win...The Eagles forced a turnover and three missed shots in the final minutes, including a three-pointer to tie that was off the mark in the closing seconds...Schoof and Munoz led the Eagles with 19 points apiece, while Stephen Lumpkins added 11 points and 10 rebounds...Schoof played all 50 minutes in the game...American has won two of its last three games, but fell 55-50 at Howard on Tuesday...Munoz led the Eagles with 11 points, while Stephen Lumpkins added 10 with eight rebounds...Howard closed the game on a 12-4 run to earn the win..The Eagles host Columbia on Sunday before entering their exam break.

ARMY The Black Knights left no question about the top team in the Hudson Valley as senior Ella Ellis led the way and a host of freshmen contributed to a 91-57 rout of Marist on Tuesday...Ellis had 23 points with 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, while Kyle Toth had 20 and Dylan Cox added 14 for a freshmen class that contributed 60 points in the game...After trailing early, Army roared back to lead by 20 at intermission and held the lead higher than that throughout the second half...Army made 15-of-30 three-pointers, just one make shy of the school record, and held a whopping 53-24 rebounding advantage...The Black Knights are 2-0 at home this season and have won six straight non-League home games dating back to last year... The 91 points were a season high, and the 34-point margin of victory was the largest against a Division I opponent since defeating VMI 82-47 during the 1970-71 season... Army starts a two-game road trip on Saturday at Penn State... Tip-off is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

BUCKNELL The Bison used a big second half to enter a 10-day exam break in style with a 76-60 win at home against Kent State on Tuesday...Bucknell led Kent State 32-31 at the half, but inched ahead further throughout the second half and finally put the game out of reach with a 10-1 run that built the lead to 67-52 with 4:51 to play...Mike Muscala scored 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting and pulled down six rebounds to lead the way, while Ryan Frazier and Bryson Johnson each scored 13...Bucknell shot 29-of-53 (54.7%) from the field and held a 34-22 rebounding advantage...The Bison are 8-1 for the third time since 1940...Bucknell improved to 3-0 at home this season and 102-32 all-time at Sojka Pavilion...Muscala is up to 1,568 points, just nine away from Kevin Bettencourt for fourth in program history...Bettencourt is Bucknell's leading scorer during the Patriot League era...The Bison return to action at home against La Salle on Dec. 15 to kick off a stretch of four games in eight days before Christmas.

COLGATE Colgate was down by double digits early in the game and could not recover in a 67-56 loss at Quinnipiac on Wednesday...The Raiders trailed 21-7 in the early minutes, and never got closer than the five-point deficit they pulled into at the half...Quinnipiac put the game away with a 10-0 second-half run that stretched the lead to 17...Mitch Rolls and Murphy Burnatowski led the Raiders with 12 points apiece, while Luke Roh added 10...Colgate has dropped three straight games, and has played its last six games away from home since its only appearance at Cotterell Court in a win over Marist on Nov. 16...The Raiders are finally back in Hamilton when they host Albany on Saturday in their last game before a nine-day exam break.

HOLY CROSS Justin Burrell scored a career-high 30 points to lead Holy Cross to an 83-78 win at Sacred Heart on Wednesday...Burrell made 11-of-15 shots and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and also dished out five assists in the game...After Holy Cross led by as many as 17 points, Sacred Heart rallied to tie the score at 72-72 with 2:02 to play...Jordan Stevens hit a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put the Crusaders back in front for good, and Holy Cross made 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win...Dave Dudzinski had 19 points and Phil Beans scored 18 to combine for 67 of the team's 83 points along with Burrell...Holy Cross made 29-of-55 (52.7%) from the field, 15-of-18 at the line and held a 35-26 edge on the boards...The Crusaders end a three-game road trip with a win, and now return home to face Dartmouth on Saturday before entering exam break.

LAFAYETTE After trailing 41-26 early in the second half, Lafayette bounced back and finally took the lead for good in the final two minutes to top St. Francis (Pa.) 61-58 on Tuesday...The Leopards used a 16-3 run to cut their deficit to 44-42, and went ahead for good on a pair of free throws by Joey Ptasinski with 1:35 to play...Ptasinski made two more at the line with 14 seconds left for a 59-56 advantage, and St. Francis (Pa.) missed a three-pointer to tie in the closing seconds...Dan Trist led the Leopards with 16 points and Tony Johnson added 12 as Lafayette survived a poor shooting night by making 21-of-24 free throws...All three of Lafayette's victories have been by less than five points, and the Leopards are a perfect 3-0 in the close contests...Lafayette continues its run against Northeast Conference opponents this weekend when it visits Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday and hosts Sacred Heart on Sunday...The Leopards are 2-3 against NEC teams this year.

LEHIGH Lehigh has equaled its best record through nine games since 1980-81, improving to 7-2 on Tuesday by using a team effort to take out Fordham 81-63 at home...All five starters scored in double figures, led by Mackey McKnight with 21 points and Gabe Knutson with 18...C.J. McCollum and Holden Greiner each added 13, while Antony D'Orazio scored 10...McCollum finished 13 points below his average coming into the game, but is still third in the country with 24.4 points per game...He made four free throws to set the Patriot League career record with 585 free throws made, one ahead of Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1992-95)...McCollum has already broken's Feaster's all-time Patriot League scoring mark this season, and is now just seven made field goals away from Feaster's career record of 757...The Mountain Hawks shot 50% from the field (29-of-58) and had 24 assists on 29 made field goals...Lehigh blitzed Fordham in the first half to take a 44-24 lead at the break, and led by at least nine points throughout the second half...Six of Lehigh's seven wins have come by double digits...The Mountain Hawks play their final game before an 11-day exam break when they visit St. Francis (Pa.) on Saturday...Lehigh has won its last 10 games against Northeast Conference opponents, with a 4-0 mark this year.

NAVY The Mids had their best offensive game of the season, particularly in the second half, to pull away for an 85-66 win at Monmouth on Wednesday... Navy trailed 48-41 with just over 14 minutes left, but connected on 15 of its last 22 field goals while making 14-of-19 free throw attempts in the second half to record its largest margin of victory in a road game since 2007-08...Navy took the lead for good with a 10-0 run that built a 63-53 advantage with 8:39 left and led by at least seven the rest of the way...Five players scored in double figures, led by Tilman Dunbar with 20 points and Thurgood Wynn with 19, career highs for both players...The duo scored 29 in the second half alone as Navy held a 53-29 advantage after intermission...Kendall Knorr added 14 points, while Worth Smith had 11 and Will Kelly scored 10...Navy shot 32-of-56 (57.1%) in the game...The Mids have already exceeded last year's win total by two, and will try to add another when they visit Mount St. Mary's on Friday.