Bucknell Men's Basketball Falls at No. 1 Syracuse, 80-61
Dec. 20, 2011
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Bucknell men's basketball team traveled to the Carrier Dome to face No. 1 Syracuse Tuesday evening and lost to the Orange by an 80-61 score. The Bison shot 45.2 percent and scored 39 points in the second half after connecting on 8 of 28 (28.6%) field goals and netting 22 points in the first half. Ben Brackney provided a spark off the bench for Bucknell with 11 points, while Mike Muscala led the Bison with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Joe Willman, who tallied 10 points on 5 of 11 shooting and a career-high five assists, rounded out a trio of Bison in double figures. Brackney and Bryson Johnson (9 points) keyed the Bucknell bench that registered 26 points.
Syracuse (12-0) was led by seniors Kris Joseph (17) and Scoop Jardine (14), who combined to net 31 points. Freshman Rakeem Christmas scored the first seven points of the game for the Orange and finished with a career high 10 in 14 minutes. Overall, Syracuse shot 52.8 percent from the field.
After trailing by 17 at halftime, Bucknell (7-5) narrowed its deficit to 13 points on three occasions late in the second half, but could not draw closer. Twice the Bison had possession with a chance to cut the deficit to 10.
Bucknell played an unselfish game and took care of the ball. It registered 19 assists on 22 field goals and turned the ball over just 12 times against a defense that was leading the nation in steals.
Bucknell was within 13-8 eight minutes into the first half thanks to two mid-range jumpers by Willman, one by Steven Kaspar and a dunk by Muscala. However, the Bison then went almost seven minutes without a field goal as the Orange extended its lead to 24-10.
Bucknell was still within 13 points at 32-19 thanks to a 3-pointer and a jumper by Brackney off the bench. He later halted a 7-0 Syracuse run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the Bison's final possession of the first half. He concluded the first half with eight points on 3 of 5 shooting and three rebounds in just six minutes.
Brackney's two first-half 3-pointers snapped a streak where the Bison missed their first eight attempts from behind the arc against the Syracuse 2-3 zone.
Two threes from Johnson and a pair of jumpers by Willman keyed a 12-3 Bucknell run early in the second half after the Orange opened up its largest lead to that point in the game at 47-24.
Muscala's seven rebounds helped him cross the 500-rebound plateau for his career. He now has 504 boards in his three years as a Bison.
Tuesday's contest was Bucknell's second-ever game against a No. 1-ranked team. The Bison lost to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2006.
The Bison will continue their pre-Christmas road trip Thursday at Boston University. Tip time is 7 p.m.