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Steven Kaspar
Steven Kaspar
Courtesy: Joel Turrell
Bison Head to Loyola Wednesday as Regular Season Hits Home Stretch
Release:   02/18/2014

What: Bucknell (12-13, 7-7 PL) at Loyola Maryland (10-15, 5-9 PL)
Where: Reitz Arena, Baltimore, Md.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH)
Internet Radio: BucknellBison.com
Live Stats: LoyolaGreyhounds.com

 

With a Win over Loyola, Bucknell Would ...
• ... equal its longest winning streak of the year at three in a row and improve to 13-13 overall, 8-7 in the Patriot League.
• ... either remainin in sole possession of fifth place or move into a tie for fourth with Army if the Black Knights lose to Colgate.
• ... sweep the season series with the Greyhounds.
• ... defeat the Greyhounds for the third straight time and improve to 8-2 all-time against them.
• ... improve to 5-0 all-time at Reitz Arena.

Headlines
• Bucknell won a pair of home games over Army and Navy last week to climb back into sole possession of fifth place in the Patriot League standings, and now the Bison play three of their final four regular-season games on the road starting at Loyola on Wednesday night. At 7-7 in the Patriot League, Bucknell is just one game behind Army for fourth place but is also just a single game ahead of sixth-place Lehigh. The top four seeds host Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal games. Loyola (5-9) sits in seventh place and is looking to climb up at least one spot to avoid having to play a first-round game in the Patriot League Tournament.
• Senior Cameron Ayers is working on a streak of 19 straight double-figure scoring games, and he earned Patriot League Player of the Week honors on Monday after scoring 13 points against Navy and 22 against Army in the two wins last week. Ayers continues to lead the team and rank third in the Patriot league in scoring at 15.6 ppg.
• Brian Fitzpatrick continues to lead the league in field-goal percentage (.625), thanks to a 54-for-76 (.711) stretch over his last 12 games. Fitzpatrick is shooting 66.7% in Patriot League play after going 7-for-10 in a 15-point, 8-rebound Senior Night performance against Army on Saturday.
• Chris Hass (11.3 ppg) has emerged as a scorer in league play, where he ranks sixth in the PL with a 14.4 ppg league average. That total includes a career-high 26-point performance against Colgate in the first meeting between the two teams. Hass missed the Jan. 22 Loyola game with a knee injury, but he returned against Boston University and scored 17 points off the bench, all of them coming during Bucknell’s late comeback attempt. Hass tallied 15 points in both wins last week.
• Starting forward Ben Brackney and reserve forward D.J. MacLeay have missed the last two games with injuries, and both are questionable for the Loyola game. Ben Oberfeld, who had six points and two rebounds in 12 minutes against Navy, missed the Army game due to illness. Cory Starkey made the most of some extended action last week. He set career highs with six points and six rebounds against Army, and he had two points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals in the Navy win.
• This is a “new-look” Bison squad, as three standout players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team graduated (Mike Muscala, Bryson Johnson, Joe Willman) and are all playing professionally overseas. Three Bucknell players made their first career starts on opening night at Stanford (Brian Fitzpatrick, Dom Hoffman, Ben Brackney), Ryan Frazier started for the first time in his career at Penn State, and Chris Hass did the same against Saint Francis.
• Bucknell returned two starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s squad that won a school-record 28 games, captured Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history.
• Loyola suffered a blow two weeks ago when it lost star guard Dylon Cormier to a season-ending hand injury. Cormier was leading the Patriot League in scoring at 21.2 points per game. The Greyhounds knocked off then-first-place American in their first game without Cormier, but since then they have dropped three straight to Lehigh, Lafayette and Boston University. Eric Laster is now the team’s top scorer at 8.4 points per game. Jordan Latham is coming off a 25-point, 10-rebound performance against the Terriers. R.J. Williams’ 52 steals are the most in the Patriot League.

How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Loyola game will not be televised, however a free live webstream will be available on the Patriot League Network. Visit PatriotLeague.tv to access the coverage.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com.
• Live stats can be accessed at LoyolaGreyhounds.com.

Bucknell-Boston U. Game Picked up by CBS Sports Network
• The Patriot League announced last week that this Sunday’s Bucknell-Boston University game in Boston has been picked up by CBS Sports Network. Tip-off remains at noon from Agganis Arena.

Bucknell vs. Loyola
• The Bison and Greyhounds have met nine times previously, with Bucknell leading 7-2 in the series, including a 4-0 mark at Reitz Arena. Bucknell won the first four; the two teams traded victories over the last four seasons as part of a four-year non-league series; and the Bison won 70-60 back on Jan. 22 in the first meeting as Patriot League rivals.
• The first series meeting came on Jan. 7, 1987 in Lewisburg. The Bison prevailed that day 72-70. A year later Bucknell won 80-60 on Loyola’s home floor.
• Bucknell and Loyola played twice within the 1992-93 season. The Bison won 75-59 in Baltimore, and in late February at Davis Gym the Bison rolled to a 116-85 victory. In the latter game the Bison produced their second-highest point total in program history, led by an incredible 9-for-10 3-point shooting performance by Hall-of-Famer Mike Bright.
• Last season at at Reitz Arena, Bucknell played one of its best all-around games of the season and defeated the Greyhounds 66-46. Mike Muscala led the way with 29 points and eight rebounds, and the Bison locked in on defense after a slow start. They limited Dylon Cormer to 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting, and no other Loyola player scored more than seven points. Both teams were frosty from long range, as the Bison shot 1-for-8 from 3-point range while the Greyhounds were 1-for-12. But the Bison shot 55.6% from inside the arc and went 13-for-14 from the foul line, compared to Loyola’s 5-for-11.
• In last month’s clash at Sojka Pavilion, Cameron Ayers scored 19 points and Steven Kaspar produced eight assists and two key defensive plays down the stretch to lift Bucknell to a 70-60 win over Loyola. Ben Brackney scored 14 points, including three go-ahead free throws with 12:14 to play, and Brian Fitzpatrick chipped in 12 points. Dylon Cormier paced Loyola with 20 points. Chris Hass did not play in that game due to injury.

Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 218-103 (.679) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. They have finished at least .500 in PL play in 19 of 23 seasons.
• Bucknell won the last three outright Patriot League regular-season titles, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat.
• The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 in each of the last two seasons, making them 37-5 over the previous three campaigns. Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 51 of its last 65 league games.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2013. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 18 times and to the championship game 10 times in the 23-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).

Last Time Out
• Bucknell avenged a close loss to Army earlier in the year by defeating the Black Knights 73-61 on Senior Night at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday. Army led 52-50 inside eight minutes to play, but the Bison finished the game on a 23-9 run.
• Cameron Ayers scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the final seven minutes. He made a tie-breaking 3-pointer that gave the Bison the lead for good with 7:01 to play. He later hit two more shots to stretch the lead up to nine, and he hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 1:32 to clinch the victory.
• Ayers was just as good defensively, where he drew the primary assignment on Army's Kyle Wilson, the No. 2 Patriot League scorer at 18.9 points per game. Wilson did not make a field goal all night and was scoreless until making a free throw with 1:14 to play. Wilson finished with two points.
• Like Ayers, Brian Fitzpatrick turned in a stellar performance on his senior night. Fitzpatrick hit 7 of 10 shots from the field, including a big 3-pointer that upped a four-point lead to seven with 5:12 to play, and he finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. In two games against Army this season, Fitzpatrick hit 15 of 18 shots from the floor.
• Chris Hass was Bucknell’s third double-digit scorer with 15. He was responsible for one of the biggest shots of the night with the Bison trailing by one point with 9:43 remaining. Bucknell had to inbound the ball with one second on the shot clock, and Hass caught the pass deep on the left wing and flipped in a 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer. Hass also had eight rebounds in the game.
• John Azzinaro hit a big 3-pointer with 5:54 to play that stretched a one-point lead up to four. He played 17 minutes, including some solid play against Army’s pressure down the stretch, and finished with four assists and no turnovers.
• Cory Starkey continued his strong recent play off the bench. The junior forward played a career-high 17 minutes and collected six points and six rebounds. He grabbed three of Bucknell’s 13 offensive boards as the Bison finished with a 42-30 edge on the glass.
• Bucknell went 7-for-12 from the 3-point arc and 18-for-21 from the foul line while shooting 43.6% overall.

Numbers Worth Noting
• After shooting 12-for-15 from 3-point range at Lafayette on Jan. 8, Bucknell ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.440). In the 11 games since then, however, the Bison have gone 69-for-198 (.348) from the arc. Bucknell is now shooting 39.8% for the season, the 15th-best mark in the nation. The Bison have begun to heat back up from long range, going 15-for-26 in the last two outings.
• Oddly, Bucknell has shot much better on the road (44.7 FG%, 42.7 3FG%, 76.9 FT%) this season than at home (41.4 FG%, 35.1 3FG%, 75.7 FT%).
• In wins this season, Bucknell has shot 48.7 FG%, 50.3 3FG%, 78.7 FT%. In the losses, the Bison have shot 38.3 FG%, 31.4 3FG%, 73.4 FT%.
• In each of the last two seasons, Bucknell led the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (i.e. percentage of opponents’ missed shots that Bucknell has rebounded). This year, despite playing almost exclusively with a four-guard lineup, the Bison still rank a respectable 9th out of 351 Division I teams in DR%. Last year, led by senior big men Mike Muscala and Joe Willman, Bucknell grabbed 79.0% of its opponents’ misses. This year that figure is still a solid 75.9%.
• Bucknell has typically ranked among the very best in the nation in fewest turnovers under coach Dave Paulsen, and this year has been no different. The Bison are averaging 9.9 turnovers per game to rank 11th nationally. They turned the ball over a season-low four times at Colgate on Feb. 1.
• Last season Bucknell featured one of the nation’s most prolific shot-blockers in Mike Muscala, but so far this season the Bison have blocked only 37 shots in 25 games, compared to 115 by their opponents. Bucknell ranked last nationally in blocks per game, before climbing out of the cellar with a season-high six rejections against Loyola on Jan. 22. At 1.5 blocks per game, the Bison are now ahead of Central Michigan, Sacramento State, Abilene Christian and Creighton.
• Bucknell ranks 25th nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (16.8).
• Brian Fitzpatrick is now shooting 66.7% in Patriot League games, and he is 54-for-76 (.711) in his last 12 contests. His 62.5% accuracy for the season is No. 1 among all Patriot League players and No. 16 among all Division I players.
• Cameron Ayers leads the Patriot League and ranks 45th in the nation in free-throw shooting at 87.6%. As a team, Bucknell ranks No. 11 nationally in free-throw percentage at 76.3%.

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