Navy's Rally Falls Short Against League Champion Bucknell
Feb. 25, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell went on a key 7-0 run late in the first half that proved to be the difference as the Bison handed the Navy men's basketball team a 64-55 setback in front of 3,894 fans at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
The loss dropped Navy's record to 3-25 overall while Bucknell improved to 22-8 overall. The win gave Bucknell the outright Patriot League regular-season championship and the Bison will serve as the top seed throughout the upcoming Patriot League Tournament.
Navy trailed 21-17 on a James Loupos (So. / Skillman, N.J.) jumper with 1:42 to play in the opening half, but the Bison scored seven unanswered points, five coming off offensive rebounds, in the final 1:32 of the half to take a 28-17 halftime lead into the locker rooms.
"That was a big run for Bucknell. I thought we gave a good effort outside of the final two minutes of the first half," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "It was very similar to the first game in that we just couldn't string together enough defensive stops to make a serious run."
Bucknell would open up a 15-point lead at 38-23 on a three-pointer by Ben Brackney with 14:59 to play, before Navy started to chip into the Bucknell advantage.
A three-pointer by Brennan Wyatt (So. / Greensboro, N.C.) cut the advantage to 41-30 with 12:01 to play and Navy would get the lead to nine (43-34) for the first time in the second half on a Loupos jumper with 8:11 to play.
Navy would still trail by nine (47-38) when perhaps the biggest swing of the game took place. Navy got a defensive stop on one end, but turned the ball over, one of just three turnovers in the second half, on its next trip down. The Bison then buried a three-pointer to push the margin back to 12 (50-38) on the ensuing possession to keep the Midshipmen at bay.
The Midshipmen would not fold, trimming the margin to eight three times in the final minute, the last time coming on a Jordan Sugars (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) three-pointer with 30 seconds left, but Bucknell made 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute for the final nine-point margin.
The loss overshadowed a strong performance by Navy sophomore Isaiah Roberts (Pennsauken, N.J.), who tallied a career-high 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Roberts came off the bench, but played 35 minutes, scoring on an array of aggressive drives and short jumpers.
Roberts did not practice on Thursday or Friday and missed Saturday's morning shootaround after attending his grandmother's funeral on Friday afternoon in New Jersey. Roberts arrived in Lewisburg at about noon on Saturday.
"Isaiah played a great game today despite not practicing for the week, and especially under the circumstances he was playing in," said DeChellis. "He had a tough week, so to play the way he played today is a encouraging. We thought he could be a player today that could score and get to the hoop and he did that very aggressively."
Sugars added 13 points for the Midshipmen, including a pair of three-pointers, while Jordan Brickman (Jr. / San Antonio, Texas) added eight points and two assists. But Navy didn't have another player score more than four points and outside of Roberts and Sugars, the squad scored just 23 points on 9-of-28 shooting.
As a team, Navy shot 21-of-54 (.389) from the field, 6-of-22 (.273) from the three-point line and 7-of-12 (.583) from the free throw line. Navy committed 10 turnovers and was outrebounded, 36-24.
Bucknell shot 19-of-46 (.413) from the field, 5-of-17 (.294) from three-point range and 21-of-24 (.875) from the free throw line. Bucknell was guilty of 16 turnovers.
Mike Muscala led the Bison with 19 points while Brackney and Joe Willman added 10 points each.
Eighth-seeded Navy will face the top-seeded Bison Wednesday night in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals at Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., with tip-off slated for 7:00 pm.
# GO NAVY #