March 9, 2011
WHAT: #6 Lafayette (13-18, 6-8 PL) at #1 Bucknell (24-8, 13-1 PL)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Friday, March 11, 4:45 p.m. ET
INTERNET VIDEO: ESPN3.com
RADIO: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
ORANGE OUT: Bison fans are encouraged to wear orange as we Orange Out Sojka Pavilion for the ESPN2 cameras.
With a Win over Lafayette, Bucknell Would ...
... win its third Patriot League championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history.
... reach the 25-win plateau for the second time in program history (27 wins in 2005-06).
... win its 10th straight game, 19th in the last 20, and 23rd in the last 25 outings.
... win its 13th straight home game.
... improve to 14-1 at home this season (10-0 vs. Patriot League foes).
... improve to 27-18 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament.
... defeat the Leopards three times in one season for the first time since 2004-05.
... improve to 3-1 against Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament (1-1 in championship games).
Top-seeded Bucknell and No. 6 Lafayette meet Friday afternoon for the 2011 Patriot League championship. The Bison captured the regular-season title with a 13-1 record, and then defeated No. 8 Army (78-51) and No. 4 Lehigh (66-64) to become the 21st No. 1 seed in 21 years to reach the Patriot League final. Lafayette tied for fourth place in the regular-season standings with a 6-8 record but dropped to the No. 6 seed based on tiebreakers. No matter, the Leopards went on the road to defeat No. 3 Holy Cross (77-70) and No. 2 American (73-71 2OT) to become the first team seeded lower than third to reach the championship game.
Bucknell swept the regular-season series from Lafayette, winning 75-56 at home on Jan. 19 and 74-69 in overtime in Easton on Feb. 16.
Bucknell is the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the third time. In 1993, the Bison were the top seed but lost at home to Holy Cross in the championship game. In 2006, Bucknell completed a perfect 17-0 league season by beating Holy Cross in the final.
The Bison are making their eighth appearance in the Patriot League championship game. They are 2-5 in previous finals appearances, with the victories coming against Holy Cross in 2005 and 2006. The 2006 game was played in Sojka Pavilion.
Bucknell is hosting the Patriot League championship game for the third time. In 1993, the top-seeded Bison were upset by No. 2 Holy Cross in Davis Gym. They avenged that loss 13 years later with a 74-59 win over the Crusaders in 2006.
Bucknell has been one of the hottest teams in the nation since Dec. 1. The Bison have won nine straight games, 18 of their last 19, and 22 of their last 24.
The Bison are in the midst of their best 24-game stretch (22-2) since the 1905-09 seasons, when the team won 28 of 30 games over a four-season span. Bucknell's only losses since Dec. 1 are at Boston College (84-80) and Army, and this current nine-game winning streak is tied for the fourth-longest in the nation (through Tuesday's games).
Bucknell is ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 poll for the third straight week. This week the Bison are ranked No. 17, up two spots from the previous poll.
Bucknell fared very well in the All-Patriot League voting this year. Sophomore center Mike Muscala was named Patriot League Player of the Year, First Team All-Patriot League and Academic All-Patriot League. Junior guard Bryan Cohen repeated as Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Senior point guard Darryl Shazier joined Muscala on the All-Patriot League First Team, while sophomore guard Bryson Johnson earned Second Team honors. Freshman guard Cameron Ayers was named to the All-Rookie Team, and Dave Paulsen was named Patriot League Coach of the Year.
This week Muscala was also named to the NABC All-District 13 First Team.
Muscala has nine 20-point games this season and continues to lead the team in scoring (14.8), rebounding (7.5) and blocked shots (2.1). He has 15 blocks in his last three games and 66 on the season, third-most in program history.
Seven Bison are scoring at least 7.0 points per game. Shazier is leading the Patriot League in assists (5.7) and ranks No. 2 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.71). Shazier scored a career-high 28 points in the Jan. 8 win over Navy, and he has had two 10-assist games this season, coming against Boston College and Colgate.
Johnson is 70-for-143 (.490) from long range in the last 21 games, including a 7-for-12 showing at Boston College, 5-for-7 efforts at Richmond and Lafayette, and a 4-for-6 performance against Colgate. Johnson leads the league and ranks 4th nationally in 3FG percentage on the season (.468).
As a team, Bucknell is leading the Patriot League in all of the shooting categories: field-goal percentage (.450), 3-point percentage (.406) and free-throw percentage (.785). Among the national leaders, the Bison are 3rd in FT% and 8th in 3FG%.
Defensively, Bucknell leads the league and ranks 16th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.394).
How to Get the Game
The Bucknell-Lafayette game will be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Jon Sciambi and LaPhonso Ellis have the call.
The game can be also heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong and Ed Sigl describing the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
The audio feed is also available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com and SportsJuice.com.
Live stats are on GameTracker via BucknellBison.com.
Bucknell vs. Lafayette Series Notes
Bucknell and Lafayette have met 147 times previously, making the Leopards Bucknell's second most-played opponent (the Bison have played Lehigh 155 times). Since the series began in 1915, Lafayette leads 85-62.
Since the start of Patriot League play in 1990-91, however, Bucknell has won 33 of 46 meetings.
Bucknell has won all 10 matchups in Sojka Pavilion and is 19-3 against the Leopards in Lewisburg going back to the Patriot League's first season. Lafayette is actually 0-11 all-time in Sojka, including a neutral-site loss to American in the 2006 PL Tournament quarterfinals.
In the 10 previous meetings at Sojka, Bucknell has outscored Lafayette 727-546, or an average score of 73-55. Only one of the 10 margins has been less than 10, that a 77-75 Bison overtime win in 2008.
On the other hand, Bucknell had lost three straight meetings in Easton before winning in overtime there this season. The Bison are just 24-49 there all-time.
The two teams split last season, with the home team winning each time. Lafayette won 61-57 in Easton, while the Bison came back for a 78-67 verdict in Sojka later in the year. Mike Muscala, who did not play in the first meeting due to injury, had 23 points and 11 rebounds the second time around.
Earlier this season at Sojka Pavilion, Bucknell parlayed a big second half into a 75-56 win. The Bison led by just four at the half, then burst out of the locker room on a 20-3 run. Muscala, Bryson Johnson and G.W. Boon all scored 13 points to lead Bucknell, while Jared Mintz had 10 to pace Lafayette.
In the rematch at Kirby Sports Center on Feb. 16, Lafayette scored the final 11 points of regulation to force overtime, but Bryson Johnson and Enoch Andoh helped carry the Bison to a 74-69 win. Johnson had a career night with 30 points, while Andoh came off the bench with his team in major foul trouble and scored four big points in overtime. Jim Mower led Lafayette with 19 points.
Patriot League Tournament Success
Bucknell has an all-time record of 26-18 in 21 Patriot League Tournaments and has beaten every team in the league at least once in the postseason. The Bison have now reached the championship game eight times, including wins in 2005 and 2006, and reached at least the semifinals in 16 of 21 years.
Bison PL Tourney Log
Year Seed Results
1991 4 def. Army 67-49; lost Fordham 82-76
1992 2 def. Army 74-55; def. Holy Cross 86-77; lost Fordham 70-65
1993 1 def. Lehigh 69-65; def. Colgate 75-73; lost Holy Cross 98-73
1994 5 lost Holy Cross 96-91
1995 2 lost Army 94-78
1996 4 def. Lafayette 56-55; lost Colgate 67-61
1997 2 def. Lehigh 84-54; def. Colgate 71-58; lost Navy 76-75
1998 3 def. Holy Cross 60-56; lost Navy 80-61
1999 3 def. Holy Cross 76-52; def. Lehigh 58-50; lost Lafayette 67-63
2000 3 lost Lehigh 73-62
2001 6 def. Colgate 75-68; lost Navy 88-64
2002 3 def. Army 70-59; lost Holy Cross 64-57
2003 5 def. Lehigh 52-47; lost Holy Cross 75-50
2004 4 def. Holy Cross 66-60; lost Lehigh 60-45
2005 2 def. Lafayette 70-34; def. American 53-35; def. Holy Cross 61-57
2006 1 def. Army 59-47; def. American 64-50; def. Holy Cross 74-59
2007 2 def. Navy 62-43; def. Army 68-47; lost Holy Cross 74-66
2008 7 def. Navy 87-86 (3OT); lost Colgate 54-40
2009 7 lost Holy Cross 75-56
2010 2 lost Holy Cross 67-64
2011 1 def. Army 78-51; def. Lehigh 66-64
Bucknell as the No. 1 Seed
This is the third time Bucknell has been the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. In three other seasons, the Bison earned co-regular season titles but lost out on the No. 1 seed on tiebreakers.
Bucknell is 7-1 while playing as the No. 1 seed.
In 1993, the Bison were seeded No. 1 but lost at home to Holy Cross in the championship game.
The last time Bucknell was the top seed was in the 2006 tourney, and that season the Bison defeated the Crusaders at home in the final to cap a perfect 17-0 league season.
No. 1 Seeds in Tournament History
The No. 1 seeds have dominated throughout the 20-year history of the Patriot League Tournament. The top seed has never failed to reach the championship game, and it has won the title in 15 of the previous 20 seasons, including each of the last five.
No. 1 seeds are 50-5 all-time in the tournament.
The last time a No. 1 failed to win the title was Holy Cross in the 2005 tournament, when No. 2 Bucknell beat the Crusaders in the championship game at the Hart Center.
Prior to Lafayette's run this season, in Patriot League Tournament history, no seed lower than a No. 3 had ever reached the final, and no one lower than a No. 2 has ever won the championship.
All-Patriot League Notes
Mike Muscala became just the third sophomore to win Patriot League Player of the Year honors. The other two were Tim Szatko of Holy Cross in 2001 and Adonal Foyle of Colgate in 1996.
Muscala is Bucknell's fourth Player of the Year, joining Patrick King in 1992, Mike Bright in 1993 and Charles Lee in 2006.
Bryan Cohen became the first two-time winner of the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Award. Cohen also won it last season. He is the fourth Bucknell player to win the award in its seven-year history. Abe Badmus earned the inaugural award in 2005, Stephen Tyree won it as a sophomore in 2008, and Cohen has won it each of the last two seasons.
Dating back to Bucknell's days in the East Coast Conference, Bucknell has now claimed a first team all-conference player in 25 of the last 28 seasons. With Muscala and Darryl Shazier earning first team honors in 2011, the Bison have two first team selections for the first time since 2006, when Lee and Chris McNaughton were so honored.
Bryson Johnson (second team) and Muscala were both All-Rookie selections last season.
Bucknell has now had 41 All-Patriot League players (26 first team, 15 second team). That is the most in the league, just ahead of Holy Cross' 36.
Bucknell has now claimed 14 all-rookie selections since joining the Patriot League in 1990-91, and the Bison have now had an all-rookie pick in nine of the last 10 years after Cameron Ayers made the team this season.
Dave Paulsen's selection as Patriot League Coach of the Year gives Bucknell five such honorees. Charlie Woollum captured the award in 1993, and Pat Flannery won it in 1995, 1997 and 2006.
More from the Semifinal Win over Lehigh
Bucknell led by as many as 12 in the first half, by six at halftime, and then again by 10 in the second half before Lehigh rallied. The Bison never trailed in the game, but Lehigh tied it twice in the second half. Bucknell broke open a 50-50 tie with a 7-0 run and never trailed again, although it had to fight off one last Mountain Hawks possession in a two-point game in the final seconds.
Mike Muscala recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and he hit the two clinching free throws with eight seconds left, stretching a two-point lead to four.
Point guard Darryl Shazier got the Bison going with a 3-pointer and a long 2-pointer on the first two possessions of the night, and he finished with 15 points and six assists despite some foul trouble. The only blip for Shazier was an uncharacteristic 1-for-6 showing from the free-throw line. He was an 81% shooter from the line coming in.
Bryson Johnson went 3-for-8 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points. He also had three assists and no turnovers in 34 minutes.
Joe Willman got off to a hot start offensively and was Bucknell's fourth double-digit scorer with 10 points.
As usual, Bryan Cohen was Bucknell's unsung hero. He scored only two points, but had five assists, two blocked shots and two steals, and he got his hands on a number of 50-50 balls to help save critical possessions down the stretch.
Cohen also marked Patriot League scoring leader C.J. McCollum for most of the night. McCollum scored 19 points (more than 2 under his average), but was just 6-for-17 from the field.
Bucknell made its first four shots of the night and shot 55.6% in the first half before cooling off later. The Bison finished at 45.3% for the game.
Lehigh earned 12 steals on Bucknell's 14 turnovers.
Bucknell had 18 assists on 24 made field goals, while Lehigh had just eight assists on 21 baskets.
Bucknell's bench outscored Lehigh's 11-0.
Some other notable numbers from Bucknell's first 32 games:
Bucknell has a 474-to-364 assist-to-turnover ratio, the best mark in the Patriot League and 25th-best in the nation. The Bison have had a negative ratio only six times all season, against Marquette, Loyola, Dartmouth, Richmond, American and Lafayette. Their 11.4 turnovers per game is the 29th-best mark in Division I basketball.
The Bison as a team are shooting 40.6% from 3-point range, up from last season's 32.9% mark. Bucknell ranks 8th nationally in 3-point accuracy. The Bison are trying to shoot 40% from 3-point range for only the fourth time in school history, and for the first time since 1988-89.
Bucknell's 45.0% field-goal shooting is the best mark in the Patriot League, and the Bison rank No. 1 in the league and No. 3 in the nation in free-throw percentage at 78.5%.
While the team's 3-point percentage is up, a lower percentage of Bucknell's total shots have come from beyond the 3-point arc. So far 30.9% of the team's attempts have come from long range, down from 34.7% last year and 35.0% in 2008-09.
Bucknell has recorded an assist on 60.0% of its field goals this season. By comparison, last year the team was credited with an assist on only 51.6% of its baskets.
Bucknell has scored 70 or more points in 18 of its last 22 games, but had a streak of eight straight 70-point games snapped against American on Feb. 9. Prior to this season, the last time a Bucknell team reached 70 in eight consecutive games was all the way back in 1995-96. The Bison have scored 70+ points 22 times so far, their most since doing it 22 times in Hall-of-Fame coach Charlie Woollum's final season in 1993-94.
The Bison have held 15 of their last 19 opponents under 40% shooting from the field.
Bucknell's average margin of victory in its 15 Patriot League wins is 12.7.
The team has 14 double-digit wins this season, its most since recording 18 in 2005-06.
The Bison are 15-0 when outrebounding opponents this season.
The Bison are 6-1 when Mike Muscala scores fewer than 10 points in a game this season (only loss was at Marquette).
On a Roll
Bucknell's current nine-game winning streak is the fourth-longest in the nation, trailing only Belmont (12), Long Island (12) and Boston University (10).
Bucknell is 22-2 since Dec. 1, the fifth-best record in the nation over that span.
The only losses in that time have both come on the road, at Boston College (84-80) and Army (90-70).
Best Record in Nation Since Dec. 1 (through March 8)
Team W L Pct.
1. Utah State 24 2 .923
2. San Diego State 23 2 .920
Kansas 23 2 .920
Ohio State 23 2 .920
5. Bucknell 22 2 .917
Longest Active Winning Streaks (through March 8)
1 Belmont 12
Long Island 12
3. Boston University 10
4. Bucknell 9
Alabama State 9
Long Beach State 9
Old Dominion 9
Bucknell is once again doing well to protect its home floor in 2010-11. The Bison have won 12 straight home games and are 13-1 at Sojka Pavilion this season. The only home loss was a 77-73 setback to Wagner on Nov. 29.
The 12-game home winning streak is currently the 18th-longest in Division I basketball.
All-time at Sojka Pavilion, Bucknell is 83-29 (.741) overall and 60-12 (.833) against Patriot League opponents.
Attendance Champs Again
Bucknell is going to win its sixth consecutive Patriot League attendance title this season.
Entering the championship game, Bucknell has averaged 3,114 fans per home game.
Following Sunday night's semifinal win over Lehigh, Bucknell's allotment of tickets for the championship game were sold out by noon on Monday.