Bucknell Men's Basketball Celebrates Senior Day with 74-57 Win over Holy Cross
Feb. 24, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell men's basketball team started the day with an emotional Senior Day ceremony honoring one of the most successful classes in program history, and then the Bison ended it in style with a 74-57 victory over Holy Cross on Sunday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. Mike Muscala recorded 25 points and seven rebounds for the Bison, who improved to 23-5 overall, 10-2 in the Patriot League, and clinched at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season title.
With Lafayette defeating Lehigh on Sunday, Bucknell now has a two-game lead over both the Leopards and Mountain Hawks with two games to play. The Bison can clinch the No. 1 seed for the Patriot League Tournament with a victory over American at home on Wednesday night.
Muscala wasn't the only senior who enjoyed a productive afternoon for the Bison. Joe Willman collected 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Nova Scotian Bryson Johnson, who was serenaded with "O Canada" prior to the game, had some threes rim out, but he finished with five points and three assists, and reserve forward Colin Klebon brought the crowd to its feet when he drew a foul on a made layup late in the game.
Cameron Ayers hit four of his five 3-point attempts and scored 15 points for the Bison, who shot 52.2 percent in the second half and 47.7 percent overall. Bucknell had 18 assists on its 31 field goals and committed only five turnovers.
"I liked our pace offensively and our defensive intensity, especially early in the second half," said coach Dave Paulsen. "It was really special to play well and get a win on Senior Day. I can't think of four individuals who embody what we are all about more than these four seniors. It was a memorable day."
Bucknell never trailed in the game, and it was tied only once at 2-2. Muscala's 3-point play kick-started a 13-4 run that put the Bison ahead for good. The lead stretched all the way up to 27-12 on Ayers' 3-pointer with 5:16 left in the half, but Holy Cross outscored Bucknell 10-2 over the final 3:49 to pull within 31-24 at the break.
After finishing the first half 1-for-7 and missing its first shot of the second half, Bucknell blew it open in a two-minute stretch starting with its second possession of the stanza. Bucknell went 5-for-5 in an 11-2 run that expanded the lead back up to 16 at 42-26. In that decisive run, Muscala hit a layup, a 3-pointer and dunk, Willman hit a tough 15-foot fadeaway, and Ayers drove down the left side of the lane for a layup.
Muscala's 3-point play with 13:51 left made it a 47-28 game. Holy Cross got hot from 3-point distance midway through the half, but the Bison kept up the pace, getting three treys from Ayers and one each from Johnson and Ben Brackney. Ayers' triple with 4:01 to play gave the Bison their largest lead of the night, 21 points at 70-49.
With the crowd chanting his name, Klebon came in with 3:36 to play and missed his first two shots, but then he took it strong to the basket, hung in the air and finished while drawing a foul. A few moments later, all the seniors left the floor together to a standing ovation.
The senior class of Johnson, Klebon, Muscala and Willman now has 87 victories, tying the Class of 2007 for the most wins in program history. Bucknell also tied the school record for most wins in a three-year period with 73, and the Bison became the fourth team in Patriot League history to win 10 or more league games three years in a row.
Now 10-1 at home this season, Bucknell is trying to become the first team in league history to win three straight outright regular-season titles.
Muscala finished 11-for-16 from the field en route to his 12th 20-point game of the season and 37th of his career. He now has 1,941 career points, leaving him 32 shy of Al Leslie's Bucknell scoring record.
With his 15 points, Ayers is now just six points shy of 1,000 for his career. He has a chance to give Bucknell four active 1,000-point scorers for the first time in program history.
Bucknell and American play at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. The contest will air live on WNEP2 throughout Central and Northeast Pennsylvania.