March 6, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell used a 12-1 run midway through the second half to pull away for a 58-42 victory over the Navy men's basketball team in the Patriot League Quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion.
The loss ends Navy's season at 8-23, while the top-seeded Bison improve to 26-5 and will host Army in the semifinal round on Saturday afternoon.
Navy had a strong gameplan and the defense was there for the Midshipmen, but Navy shot just 30.8 percent from the field and was outscored from the free throw line, 22-9, in falling to the Bison for the third time this season.
"Our offense has been our achilles heel all year. We just couldn't score. They really got into our scorers (Venturini and Smith) and made it tough for us. When Worth got in foul trouble in the first half, that really hurt us. When you lose an offensive option in the first half, it makes it that much tougher," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "I thought our defense was fantastic tonight, especially from our perimeter guys, but we just couldn't generate anything off it."
The Mids would trail trail by nine at 22-13, but a Tilman Dunbar (Fr. / Woodbridge, Va.) jumper after a Ryan Spadaford (Fr. / Rockville Centre, N.Y.) free throw cut the margin to six at 22-16 with 5:32 to play. Navy would have its chances to cut into the lead further, but the Mids went scoreless for the remainder of the half to fall behind, 26-16, at the break.
Navy was still within striking distance at 34-23 with 15:25 to play, when Worth Smith (So. / Mooresville, N.C.) was called for his fourth foul, a questionable flagrant-1, to give Bucknell two free throws and possession of the ball. The Bison turned the Navy miscue into four points and the Bison would cap off a 12-1 run on a pair of Bryson Johnson free throws with 10:58 to play and a 44-24 advantage.
Navy would crawl to within 54-40 on a Brandon Venturini
(So. / Allendale, Mich.) steal and layup with 1:56 left, but it was too little, too late as the Bison ran out the clock to defeat the Midshipmen, 58-42.
Navy would once again struggle offensivel, shooting 15-of-49 (.308) from the field, 3-of-13 (.231) from three-point range and 9-of-15 (.600) from the free throw line. Navy was guilty of 10 turnovers, five of which came on illegal screens and two more on shot clock violations.
Bucknell was 17-of-44 (.386) from the field, 2-of-14 (.143) from three-point range and 22-of-24 (.917) from the free throw line. Bucknell outrebounded the Midshipmen, 36-25, including 18-8 in the second half and was guilty of 10 turnovers. Bucknell had just six assists on 17 baskets, four days after having 18 assists on 23 made field goals against Navy in last Saturday's regular-season finale.
Tilman Dunbar led the Midshipmen with nine points and three assists, becoming just the ninth player in school history with 150 assists in a season. Dunbar ended his year with 152 assists, the 12th most in a season in school history and the most by a freshman in Patriot League history.
Classmate Kendall Knorr (Fr. / Concord, N.C.) added eight points and connected on 31 three-pointers this year, the eighth most by a freshman in school history. Venturini netted seven points and finished his year with 67 three-pointers, the ninth most in school history.
Jerome Alexander (Fr. / Radford, Va.) totaled six points and Will Kelly (Fr. / Mount Laurel, N.J.) scored five points with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Spadaford would contribute a career-best four points.
All 42 of Navy's points were scored by freshmen and sophomores, including 32 by the freshman class, which tallied 685 points, or 40.1 percent of Navy's scoring this year, the highest percentage for a freshman class in school history.
"I think the freshmen played fine this year. It's very hard for freshmen to play at this level. Look at this squad we played tonight. They have no freshmen that play quality minutes and are dominated by seniors and juniors with big, strong bodies. Physically, we aren't there. We have to get to the level where we have seniors and juniors playing significant minutes," said DeChellis. "We've got some really bright spots, but we have to add to it and make guys better that are already in our program. We need to become much stronger and become better athletes. We need to have a great offseason and get better as a program."
Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala led Bucknell with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Joe Willman totaled 10 points and seven rebounds. Bryson Johnson, who was 10-of-16 from three-point range while averaging 16.0 points per game in the regular season this year against Navy, was just 1-of-5 from long distance and scored seven points. First-team all-Patriot League member Cameron Ayers was held to just two points on 1-of-5 field goal attempts in 22 minutes of action.
Worth Smith would lead the team in scoring (10.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg) while Dunbar led the team in assists (4.9 apg). Ironically, Navy's top three scorers (Smith, Dunbar, Venturini) each attempted 291 field goals this year.
Navy finished the year with a five-win improvement from last year, the sixth-best improvement in school history. This year's team had no seniors and will return all 15 members from this year's squad in 2013-14.
# GO NAVY #