Late Bucknell Run Pushes Bison Past Men’s Basketball, 66-47
Despite an off-shooting night, American University men's basketball stayed with Patriot League-leading Bucknell through the first half and closed to within five points of the Bison, seven minutes into the second period, but Bucknell rode its offensive trio and used a second half surge to push past AU, 66-47.
Junior center Tony Wroblicky led the Eagles (10-18, 5-8 PL) with 13 points, but the Bison triumvirate of Mike Muscala, Cameron Ayers and Bryson Johnson posted 55 of Bucknell's (24-5, 11-2 PL) total points.
American could not get going offensively, especially from 3-point range, going 1-of-9 in the contest. Conversely, Bucknell knocked down 47.1 percent of its shots, going 24-of-51 from the field with five 3-pointers.
"We did not knock down shots tonight and while a lot of that credit can go to Bucknell's defense, we have to do a better job of hitting the open looks," said head coach Jeff Jones. "We did a good job of exploiting some mismatches down low, but Muscala affected the game both offensively and defensively which helped swing the game in the second half."
Bucknell benefited from 15 second-chance points to American's five while out-rebounded AU 34-26.
The Eagles trailed early, 8-1, but fought back to within three points at 13-10. Bucknell countered with a 7-0 run of their own to go up by 10, but again AU came back to get within six of the Bison before late free throws put Bucknell up nine at the break, 29-20.
Senior Stephen Lumpkins was held off the scoresheet in the first half, finishing with six points, eight rebounds and a block as his streak of 26-straight games of double-digit scoring came to and end.
Bucknell jumped out to a 12-point lead to begin the second half at 36-24, but American put together one its best stretches of the game, closing to within five of the Bison with a 7-0 run.
It was sophomore John Schoof who sparked the Eagles, knocking down a 3-pointer, then laying one in, before drawing a charge to give AU possession and momentum.
American was within six at 39-33 and within eight at 47-39, with 7:41 remaining, but Bucknell finished strong, using a 25-4 spurt to take their biggest lead of the game, 64-43.
Muscala finished with a game-high 21 points while Ayers added 18 and Johnson pitched in 16.
Schoof finished the game with seven points, four rebounds an assist, steal and 3-pointer, but Ayers played solid defense all-game long on AU's sophomore sharpshooter, limiting the Patriot League's leading 3-point shooter to just 1-of-2 shots from beyond the arc.
The Eagles end the regular season on the road at Lafayette on Saturday, March 2. American can clinch the No. 5 seed in the Patriot League tournament with a win or a Colgate loss at Holy Cross.