Feb. 29, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell outscored the Navy men's basketball team, 28-10, over the last nine minutes of the first half to break open a tight game and cruise to an 87-63 decision over the Midshipmen in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday night in Sojka Pavilion.
The loss ends Navy's season at 3-26, while Bucknell improved to 23-8 overall and will face Lafayette, which upset Holy Cross in the quarterfinals, in Saturday's semifinal.
Navy struggled early, falling behind 11-3 at the first media timeout thanks to five turnovers in the opening five minutes. The Midshipmen countered with an 8-2 spurt over six minutes to cut the lead to 13-11 with 9:20 to play, holding the Bison without a point during the stretch.
However, the Bison's Bryson Johnson came in and buried back-to-back three-pointers and a dunk by Mike Muscala highlighted an 8-2 spurt to put the Bison up 21-13 with 7:12 left and Bucknell never looked back as it made nine straight shots from the field over the last six minutes to turn a two-point lead into a 20-point halftime advantage, 41-21.
"We just let one mistake lead to another in the first half. We were playing with a short bench tonight and we had some guys in there that don't normally play a lot and you could see their nerves," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "We were throwing the ball all over the place. We knew they were going to come out strong and we never adjusted. We didn't do anything tonight that we talked about doing the last two days, and that is very disappointing."
Navy would get to within 14 at 47-33 with 16:18 to play on Jordan Sugars' (Sr. / Winchester, Va.) 199th career three-pointer, but Bucknell countered with another 21-5 run to grab a 68-38 advantage with 9:57 to play before settling in for the 24-point victory.
Isaiah Roberts (So. / Pennsauken, N.J.) led Navy with a career-high 20 points, one game after setting a new career high with 19 points against the Bison on Saturday. He went 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-4 from three-point range and finished with five assists, four steals and three rebounds in a fine all-around performance.
"Isaiah has really played well over the last eight games after J.J. Avila's
departure," said DeChellis. "He has really stepped up and did a nice job the last couple of weeks. He is a sophomore guard, so we hope he continues to improve and get better. He was a guy that could score tonight but was the only guy that could put the ball in the basket. We just needed more guys to score. You can't keep up with Bucknell scoring the basketball, so we needed more from our defense tonight."
Navy shot 21-of-40 (.525) from the field, the first time since Nov. 13 against Penn State Altoona that Navy shot over 50.0 percent from the field. The Mids were 10-of-22 (.455) from three-point range and 11-of-16 (.688) from the free throw line, but were guilty of 22 turnovers, many of them unforced.
Navy was 13-of-22 (.591) from the field in the second half, while the 10 three-pointers tied a season high set vs. Monmouth on Dec. 6.
Bucknell shot 32-51 (.627) from the field, including 16-of-24 (.667) in the second half. The Bison went 8-of-15 (.533) from three-point range and 15-of-19 (.789) from the free throw line. Bucknell had 14 turnovers and outrebounded the Midshipmen, 23-18.
Worth Smith (Fr. / Mooresville, N.C.) added eight points, all coming in the first half before sitting out the second half after aggravating his foot injury. James Loupos (So. / Skillman, N.J.) added seven points.
Bucknell was led by Joe Willman with 18 points and Bryson Johnson with 15 points on five three-pointers. Navy held first-team all-Patriot League performer Mike Muscala to just three field goal attempts and two points.
It was the final game for Navy seniors Jordan Sugars, Carlton Smith (Rochester, N.Y.) and Ted Connolly (Wexford, Pa.). The Midshipmen return just one member from the junior class (Jordan Brickman / San Antonio, Texas) and will likely be one of the youngest teams in America yet again for the 2012-13 season.
# GO NAVY #