Lewisburg, PA (Sports Network) - The top-seed Bucknell Bison will try to make
up for a letdown in last year's title game when it faces the second-seed
Lafayette Leopards for the Patriot League championship at Sojka Pavilion.
Lafayette had a pretty easy time through the first two rounds of the
tournament with double-digit victories over seventh-seed Holy Cross (77-54)
and third-seed and defending champion Lehigh (82-69). Going back to the
regular season the Leopards have won seven-straight games as they go for their
first Patriot League title since 2000 when it won back-to-back crowns.
Bucknell took down eight-seed Navy and four-seed Army in its first two rounds
of the tournament. Those victories extended the Bison's winning streak to six
games after they rolled to 25 wins in the regular season and a 12-2 mark in
league action. Bucknell has been in the title game in two straight seasons but
lost, 82-77, to Lehigh a year ago.
These teams actually met up in this round of the tournament during the 2010
season when Bucknell earned its third conference crown. During this campaign
these teams split their two matchups, while Lafayette owns an 86-67 all-time
Tony Johnson poured in 24 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists to
lead the Jaguars over Lehigh in the second round. Johnson's efforts on the
boards helped the Jaguars earn a 35-25 edge in rebounds, while they got 20
points off turnovers and 17 points on second chance opportunities.
Johnson (13.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) is one of three double-figure scorers for the
Jaguars and has done so by shooting an impressive 55.7 percent from the field.
That is the best field goal percentage among players in the Patriot League as
is Johnson's work in creating steals (1.9 pg). Seth Hinrichs (14.7 ppg) and
Dan Trist (12.6 ppg) are each able to carry the offense at times with the trio
combining for 55 points on 18-of-33 shooting in the win over Lehigh. Hinrichs
is also in the top five players in the league in field goal percentage (.538)
for the Jaguars who are the second best shooting team in the league (.459).
Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala was at it again in the Bison's
second-round victory. Muscala had 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while
blocking three shots to lead the Bison to the title game. Cameron Ayes added
19 points for Bucknell which held Army to just 38 percent shooting.
Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.5 bpg) has been sensational all season and
dominated in the paint. The 6-foot-11 forward now has a NCAA-leading 21
double-doubles this season after leading the Patriot League in points,
rebounds and blocks during the regular season. Ayers (12.6 ppg) has been a
strong second option as he shoots 47.9 percent from the field, while Bryson
Johnson (11.4 ppg) and Joe Willman (10.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) are also consistent
contributors. Bucknell is a very strong defensive squad ranking seventh
nationally in opponent field-goal percentage (.377), while ranking among the
top 20 in points allowed (59.4 pg).
The Sports Network