Hot-Shooting Princeton Tops Bucknell Men 79-67
Dec. 22, 2012
PRINCETON, N.J. - Ian Hummer and Denton Koon scored 17 points each to lead hot-shooting Princeton to a 79-67 victory over Bucknell on Saturday night at Jadwin Gym. Mike Muscala logged 17 points and 11 rebounds and Joe Willman added 15 points for the Bison, who will head to the Christmas Break with an 11-2 record after seeing their six-game overall winning streak and eight-game winning streak against the Ivy League come to an end.
Bucknell had held 10 straight opponents under 40-percent shooting from the field, but Princeton shot 51 percent and hit 11 3-pointers in 25 attempts. The Tigers are the biggest team the Bison have faced this season, starting five players 6-5 or taller, and all five scored in double figures. Koon, a 6-8 two-guard, had success posting up inside and hit 6 of 9 shots from the field. Meanwhile, posts Mack Darrow and Hans Brase each hit a pair of 3-pointers. Brase scored 14 points and Darrow had 10.
Coming into the game, Muscala and Hummer were the only two players in the nation leading his team in points, rebounds, blocks and assists, and both had big games. Muscala had to deal with double teams all night, but still managed his eighth double-double of the season and 33rd of his career. Muscala also had two blocks and two assists. Hummer went 6-for-10 from the floor, grabbed eight rebounds and hit some big free throws down the stretch.
Despite the loss, Bucknell is still off to its second-best 13-game start in program history. The Bison were 12-1 in 1900-01, and they were also 11-2 in 1983-84, 1927-28 and 1901-02.
Princeton's lead was just four at 47-43 inside 10 minutes to play when back-to-back 3-pointers by T.J. Bray and Clay Wilson gave the Tigers their first double-digit lead at 53-43. Bray's came at the end of the shot clock, and Wilson's came in transition after a rare Bison turnover.
Bray, who came into the game just 8-for-40 from the arc on the season, hit his third of the night moments later to answer a Muscala bucket and make it 56-45. After Willman scored in the paint off a wraparound pass from Ryan Hill, Hummer hit a long two from the corner and Brase hit Princeton's 11th 3-pointer of the night to make it a 14-point game at 61-47.
Bucknell started fouling early to try to make up the deficit, but the Tigers would not cooperate. Hummer, a 59-percent free-throw shooter coming in, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:54 left, but then he made four in a row to start a stretch of 13 straight makes from the line for the Tigers.
Ayers hit a 3-pointer to get Bucknell as close as nine with 1:12 left, but Darrow hit two from the line, Ayers was called for a charging foul, and Koon made two more to push the lead back to 13. When Princeton's Brendan Connolly finally missed a foul shot with 33 seconds left, the rebound caromed off a player's elbow and back into the hoop, summing up Bucknell's night.
"I thought Princeton played great," said coach Dave Paulsen afterward. "When we watch the film I think we are going to find some flaws in our defensive rotations, but give credit where it's due, they made some big, timely shots and we did not have a lot of answers."
Early 3-pointers by Ayers and Johnson staked Bucknell to a quick 7-0 lead, but Princeton responded with eight straight points, setting the stage for a back-and-forth first half.
The Tigers went up 14-9 on an inside bucket by Hummer, but then the Bison came back with a 9-2 run, consisting of three Willman buckets and another trey by Johnson. Ayers picked off a pass and was fouled on the layup attempt, and his free throws put the Bison up 28-23 with 6:11 to play.
Bucknell opened the game 11-for-16 from the field, but then finished the half 1-for-9, and Princeton reclaimed the lead with a 10-2 run over the last 5:57. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Koon and Bray gave the Tigers a 33-30 lead at the break.
Ayers added 14 points for the Bison, who shot 46.9 percent from the field and made 5 of 13 from the arc. They were an uncharacteristic 69.6 percent (16-23) from the free-throw line. Bucknell entered the game ranked fourth nationally in fewest turnovers and had only seven in this one, but Princeton turned it over just four times and had 17 assists on 26 field goals, led by eight helpers from Bray.
Princeton was the last Ivy League team to defeat Bucknell, coming at the CBE Classic at James Madison in 2010-11. The Bison then won eight in a row against Ivy League foes, including Princeton last season at Sojka Pavilion.
The Bison just concluded a stretch of four games in eight days, and now they will have six days off from game action around the Christmas holiday. Bucknell returns to action on Dec. 28 at Loyola (Md.) at 7:30 p.m.