Feb. 2, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell's senior starters accounted for 37 points and 25 rebounds and the Navy men's basketball team shot just 31.7 percent from the field as the league-leading Bison handed the Midshipmen a 69-54 setback at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday night.
The loss drops Navy to 7-16 overall and 1-6 in Patriot League play, while Bucknell improved to 19-4 and 6-1.
The Bison never trailed in defeating the Midshipmen for the sixth straight time.
"I thought Bucknell played very well and (Mike) Muscala and (Bryson) Johnson were excellent tonight. They share the ball very well and they make shots," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "You can't come in and miss open shots and expect to win the game against a team like this. They are just a very good basketball team and you have to play well to beat them."
The story was the same for the Navy offense. The Mids connected on just 31.7 percent of their field goal attempts and were outrebounded by a 47-20 margin. Muscala almost outrebounded Navy by himself, grabbing 19 caroms.
"Our last three or four losses have been the same thing. You have to shoot with confidence and shoot them to make them, not just to get rid of them. When we don't make shots, it affects our defense," added DeChellis. "We just aren't there yet. We'll just keep plugging away and hammering away at them."
Bucknell jumped out to a 21-8 lead just 10 minutes into the game when the Mids went on a 6-0 spurt on three-pointers by Kevin Alter (So. / Rumsen, N.J.) and Brandon Venturini (So. / Allendale, Mich.) to trim the margin to 21-14 with 9:23 to play. However, the Bison answered with an 8-0 run of their own and settled for a 34-22 halftime lead after Navy scored the last four points of the half.
Navy would cut the lead to 10 (34-24) on a Worth Smith (So. / Mooresville, N.C.) jumper early in the second half, but Bucknell countered with a 12-0 run over four-plus minutes to push its lead to 46-24 with 13:15 to play.
The Midshipmen wouldn't fold and answered with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the Bison advantage to 46-31, but again Bucknell countered with a 13-4 sprint to take its largest lead of the game, 59-35, with 6:18 left.
Navy would cut the lead to 13 points twice in the final four minutes, the last time coming at 65-52 with 2:56 left, but Navy went just 1-of-7 down the stretch and Bucknell coasted in for a 69-54 victory.
Navy was 19-of-60 (.317) from the field, 6-of-15 (.400) from three-point range and a season-best 10-of-11 (.909) from the free throw line. The Midshipmen committed a season-low eight turnovers, but were outrebounded badly, 47-20, the lowest rebounding margin since being outrebounded, 57-23, against San Diego State on Jan. 3, 1984.
Bucknell was 23-of-49 (.469) from the field, 7-of-19 (.368) from three-point range and 16-of-19 (.842) from the free throw line. The Bison entered the game third in the country in turnovers per game (9.5), but turned the ball over 21 times.
Alter led Navy with 15 points, making three-of-seven three-pointers and six-of-seven from the free throw line. Venturini added 11 points, while Smith chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds. Tilman Dunbar (Fr. / Woodbridge, Va.) had eight points with five assists against no turnovers.
"Alter gives everything he has. He is a tough kid and when he makes shots, he's pretty good. It's tough for him at times defensively, but he embraces what we are trying to do with our basketball program," said DeChellis. "He plays hard and with intensity and with great effort. He brings it. When a young man embraces what you try to teach for the long term, he will get an opportunity to play."
Bryson Johnson tallied 20 points while making 6-of-10 three-point tries. Muscala scored 11 points while attempting just four field goals to go along with 19 rebounds.
"We'll just get back to work. This is a great group of kids. They work hard. We make shots in practice and it just doesn't carry over sometimes," added DeChellis. "It just comes down to a confidence issue. We have faith in these guys, and one of these days, it will click and we'll win some games."
Navy returns home next Saturday to begin the second half of league play with a 7:00 PM tip against Lafayette on February 9 in Alumni Hall.
# GO NAVY #