Muscala Ties School Blocks Record as Bison Blitz Lehigh, 81-68
Jan. 26, 2011
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Bryson Johnson scored 18 points and Mike Muscala recorded 15 points, nine rebounds and a school record-tying eight blocked shots to lead Bucknell to its ninth straight win, 81-68 over defending Patriot League champion Lehigh Wednesday night at Stabler Arena. Now a perfect 6-0 in the Patriot League and 15-7 overall, the first-place Bison led this one from start to finish, despite overcoming major foul trouble.
Reigning Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum had to work hard for his 24 points. McCollum went 5-for-17 from the field but 14-for-14 from the line in a game that was hampered by 53 fouls and 74 free throws. McCollum added 11 rebounds and Gabe Knutson added 11 points and eight boards for the Mountain Hawks, who are now 11-10 overall and 2-4 in the league.
Both teams did good work at the foul line to overcome some chilly shooting. The Bison made their first 23 free throws and went 30-for-34 at the line to overcome 40.7-percent field-goal shooting. Lehigh went 0-for-13 from 3-point range and shot 30.5 percent overall, but went 32-for-40 from the stripe.
Leading 37-25 at halftime, the Bison broke it open with a 15-2 run to start the second half. After a swap of baskets, the Bison scored 13 points in a row, with two of the scoring plays set in motion by Muscala blocks. His fourth rejection of the night set Shazier in transition, and the senior point guard knocked down a 14-foot pull-up.
After Willman backed down McCollum for a layup, Muscala blocked another shot into the hands of Shazier, who found Johnson open for a transition trey from the left side.
After Lehigh came up empty on a couple of put-back attempts, Lehigh coach Brett Reed was ejected after coming out to mid-court to protest a call. Muscala knocked down all four technical free throws, and then after the inbounds, Muscala from the high post hit Shazier on a backdoor cut for a layup and a 52-27 lead.
The rest of the second half was interminable, with foul after foul interrupting the game's flow. Both teams did well at the free-throw line, and Lehigh was able to creep back within 13 on a couple of occasions. It was a 14-point game with 2:35 to play when the Bison drained the shot clock, then Shazier drove and dished to Boon for a corner 3-pointer to stretch the lead back to 17 at 77-60.
The Bison were quick out of the gates in this one, streaking to leads of 11-2 and 27-10. Lehigh started 4-for-16 from the field as Bucknell did well to keep the ball out of McCollum's hands. The league's leading scorer managed just six points on 2-for-11 shooting in the first half, and Lehigh shot just 27.6 percent from the field
It was a foul-filled first half, and the Bison paid early as Willman picked up two fouls in the in the first 2:37. But sixth man Boon was stellar off the bench, converting a breakaway layup and two 3-pointers in a four-minute span. Boon's second trey gave Bucknell a 22-8 lead. After a pair of Holden Greiner free throws, Willman came back in and knocked down an elbow jumper, and Cohen drove baseline for a 3-point play to make it 27-10.
The Bison went ice cold after the Cohen bucket, however, and Lehigh crept back in it primarily from the free-throw line. Bucknell went more than seven minutes without a field goal, and Lehigh went on a 9-2 run to pull back within 10 at 31-21. Seven of those points came from the foul line.
Muscala ended the field goal drought with a jumper just inside the foul line with 1:21 left in the half, and Cameron Ayers hit a 17-footer with 21 seconds left before McCollum drove the lane for a layup to make it 37-25 at the half.
Johnson, the No. 5 3-point shooter in the nation, went 4-for-8 from the arc, while Boon went 3-for-4. Ayers also had a good game off the bench, with eight points and four assists in 20 minutes.
Muscala recorded the fourth eight-block game in program history. Career blocks leader Mike Butts did it twice in 1989, and Brian Anderson had eight against George Mason in 1993. Muscala also recorded his 100th career block, becoming the fourth player in school history to do so.
The Bison snapped a three-game losing streak at Stabler Arena and have now surpassed last season's win total. The nine-game winning streak is the 13th-longest in school history and the longest since the 14-game streak in 2006-07.
Bucknell closes out the first round of Patriot League play on Saturday at Army. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. at Christl Arena.