Bucknell Men's Basketball Falls to Connecticut in NCAA Second Round, 81-52
March 17, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bucknell men's basketball team ran into one of the hottest teams in the country in Big East Champion Connecticut on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Fresh off winning an impressive five games in five days at the Big East Tournament, the third-seeded Huskies defeated the 14th-seeded Bison, 81-52, in the third game of the day at the Verizon Center.
Big East Tournament MVP Kemba Walker totaled 18 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists for the Huskies, who will advance to Saturday's third round against the winner of Thursday night's Cincinnati-Missouri contest.
Connecticut shot extremely well from the field the entire game and finished 32 of 66 (48.5%). The Huskies made five of their first six field goals, 13 of their first 20 and 15 of 29 overall in the first half. Connecticut's three double-digit scorers - Walker, Roscoe Smith (17) and Jeremy Lamb (16) - were a combined 18 of 33 from the field for 51 points and they knocked down eight of the team's nine 3-pointers.
Muscala also led the Bison with four rebounds as Connecticut was strong on the boards the entire night. The Huskies held a 42-21 edge in rebounds, led by 12 from Alex Oriakhi. Bucknell corralled just one offensive rebound.
Bucknell, which finished the season 25-9 and won 23 of its final 26 games, held a pair of early leads, but Connecticut went on an 8-0 spurt to take an 11-5 advantage in the early minutes of the contest.
The Bison battled back to make it 18-15 and an emphatic block by G.W. Boon on a Walker drive appeared to give Bucknell the ball with a chance to tie. However, the ball ended up in the hands of Lamb, who knocked down one of his four 3-pointers in the game as the shot clock expired.
Bucknell was still within 23-17 with nine minutes to play, but the Huskies reeled off a 16-3 run during which the Bison were held without a point for more than seven minutes. Muscala ended the drought with a jump hook in the lane, but Bucknell still trailed 39-22 heading into halftime.
Connecticut (27-9) scored on its first eight possessions of the second half to open up a 60-27 advantage with just over 14 minutes showing on the clock.
The Huskies stretched their lead to as many as 41 (75-34), but Bucknell closed out the game strong, scoring 18 of the final 24 points and holding UConn scoreless for nearly six minutes during one stretch. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bryan Cohen and Johnson highlighted an 11-0 run.
With his 14 points, Muscala finished his sophomore season with 507 points, becoming the 13th Bucknell player to reach the 500-point plateau. Shazier came just shy of a milestone as he entered the game needing just two assists to reach 500 and was unable to record one on Thursday.
Bucknell qualilfied for the NCAA Tournament by winning its third Patriot League title in the last seven years. It was the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bison, who defeated Kansas as a No. 14 seed in 2005 and Arkansas as a No. 9 seed in 2006.