What: Loyola (8-9, 3-3 PL) at Bucknell (8-9, 3-3 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 7 p.m.
Internet Video: Bison Vision on the Patriot League Network (free)
With a Win over Loyola, Bucknell Would …
• … improve to 9-9 overall, 4-3 in the Patriot League.
• … remain in at least a tie for fourth place in the Patriot League standings.
• … improve to 5-3 at home this season.
• … improve to 117-36 overall and 81-16 against Patriot League foes at Sojka Pavilion.
• … improve to 7-2 all-time against the Greyhounds.
• The Bison fell back to 3-3 in the Patriot League with a pair of road losses against the service academies last week, and now this week they have a two-game homestand against the two Patriot League newcomers, starting with Loyola on Wednesday. The Bison and Greyhounds come in with identical records of 8-9 overall and 3-3 in the Patriot League. While the Bison are coming off a 74-67 loss at Army on Sunday, Loyola will be on even shorter rest after falling at Boston University 72-58 on Monday night.
• General public tickets for Saturday’s home game against Boston University have been sold out. Only Bucknell student tickets remain at this time. In the event that any consignment tickets are returned, they will be made available for sale to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 1 p.m. from the Sojka Pavilion Box Office.
• Senior Cameron Ayers is working on a streak of 11 straight double-figure scoring games and continues to lead the team in scoring at 13.6 ppg. Chris Hass (10.4 ppg) has emerged as a scorer in league play, where he ranks fifth in the PL with a team-best 15.7 ppg average. That total includes a career-high 26-point performance against Colgate. Ben Brackney broke out of a recent shooting slump with a career-high 25 points at Lafayette. He also led the team with 13 points in the win over Holy Cross and 12 in the loss at Navy, and he was named Patriot League Player of the Week last Monday.
• This is a “new-look” Bison squad, as three standout players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team have graduated (Mike Muscala, Bryson Johnson, Joe Willman) and are all playing professionally overseas. Three Bucknell players made their first career starts on opening night at Stanford (Brian Fitzpatrick, Dom Hoffman, Ben Brackney), Ryan Frazier started for the first time in his career at Penn State, and Chris Hass did the same against Saint Francis.
• Bucknell returned two starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s squad that won a school-record 28 games, captured Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history.
• Loyola features the Patriot League’s leading scorer in Dylon Cormier, who is averaging 22.1 points per game. Cormier also ranks second in the Patriot League in steals and sixth in rebounding, and he has scored 32.0% of his team’s points on the season. In conference play the Greyhounds are 3-0 at home (Navy, Lehigh, Lafayette) but 0-3 on the road (Army, American, Boston U.) so far.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Loyola game will not be televised, however a live webstream will be available free of charge on Bison Vision on the Patriot League Network.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com.
• Live stats can be accessed at BucknellBison.com.
Bucknell vs. Loyola
• The Bison and Greyhounds have met eight times previously, with Bucknell leading 6-2 in the series. Bucknell won the first four, then the two teams have traded victories over the last four seasons.
• The first series meeting came on Jan. 7, 1987 in Lewisburg. The Bison prevailed that day 72-70. A year later Bucknell won 80-60 on Loyola’s home floor.
• Bucknell and Loyola played twice within the 1992-93 season. The Bison won 75-59 in Baltimore, and in late February at Davis Gym the Bison rolled to a 116-85 victory. In the latter game the Bison produced their second-highest point total in program history, led by an incredible 9-for-10 3-point shooting performance by Hall-of-Famer Mike Bright.
• Last season at at Reitz Arena, Bucknell played one of its best all-around games of the season and defeated the Greyhounds 66-46. Mike Muscala led the way with 29 points and eight rebounds, and the Bison locked in on defense after a slow start. They limited Dylon Cormer to 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting, and no other Loyola player scored more than seven points. Both teams were frosty from long range, as the Bison shot 1-for-8 from 3-point range while the Greyhounds were 1-for-12. But the Bison shot 55.6% from inside the arc and went 13-for-14 from the foul line, compared to Loyola’s 5-for-11.
• When these two teams last met at Sojka Pavilion two seasons ago, Loyola handed the Bison a rare home loss, 72-67 behind 18 points from Erik Etherly and 14 each from Cormier and Justin Drummond. Muscala scored 24 points, including the 1,000th point of his career, but the Bison saw their 18-game home winning streak come to an end. Bucknell led 64-61 with four minutes to play, but the Greyhounds ended the game on an 11-3 run.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 214-99 (.684) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. They have finished at least .500 in PL play in 19 of 23 seasons.
• Bucknell won the last three outright Patriot League regular-season titles, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat.
• The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 in each of the last two seasons, making them 37-5 over the previous three campaigns. Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 47 of its last 57 league games.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2013. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 18 times and to the championship game 10 times in the 23-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).
Last Time Out
• Josh Herbeck went 6-for-6 on 3-pointers, including two desperation heaves as the shot clock expired in the second half, leading Army to a 74-67 win over Bucknell on Sunday at Christl Arena. Herbeck beat the shot clock from deep in the right corner to give the Black Knights a 55-53 lead with 6:31 to play, and Army would never trail again. The margin was just two with 56 seconds left when Herbeck swished a 35-footer. Bucknell turned it over on its next two possessions, and Army iced the game from the foul line.
• Brian Fitzpatrick enjoyed one of the best days of his career with 17 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the field. Fitzpatrick fell one point shy of his career high earlier this season at Mount St. Mary’s.
• Steven Kaspar had another solid game with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. It was Kaspar’s second game in a row with three thefts.
• Ben Brackney added 11 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
• Bucknell struggled from the outside, hitting just 5 of 21 tries from 3-point range. Army was 8-for-18.
• The Bison were strong at the free-throw line, making 16 of 19.
• Bucknell committed 13 turnovers and has now had double-digit turnovers in three straight games for the first time in two years.
• Army snapped a seven-game series losing streak.
Numbers Worth Noting
• This season Bucknell is 7-5 coming off three or fewer days off, but is just 1-3 following four or more days of rest.
• After shooting 12-for-15 from 3-point range at Lafayette on Jan. 8, Bucknell ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.440). In the three games since then, however, the Bison have gone 18-for-61 (.295) from the arc, lowering their season percentage to .410. That is still the 13th-best mark in the nation.
• Oddly, Bucknell has shot much better on the road (45.8 FG%, 43.8 3FG%, 77.3 FT%) this season than at home (42.3 FG%, 36.1 3FG%, 73.9 FT%).
• In each of the last two seasons, Bucknell led the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (i.e. percentage of opponents’ missed shots that Bucknell has rebounded). This year, despite playing almost exclusively with a four-guard lineup, the Bison still rank a respectable 7th out of 351 Division I teams in DR%. Last year, led by senior big men Mike Muscala and Joe Willman, Bucknell grabbed 79.0% of its opponents’ misses. This year that figure is still a solid 77.8%.
• Bucknell has typically ranked among the very best in the nation in fewest turnovers under coach Dave Paulsen, and this year has been no different. Despite an 18-turnover game at Navy last Wednesday, the Bison are averaging only 10.3 turnovers per game to rank 21st nationally.
• Last season Bucknell featured one of the nation’s most prolific shot-blockers in Mike Muscala, but so far this season the Bison have blocked only 17 shots in 17 games, compared to 71 by their opponents. Bucknell ranks last nationally in blocks per game (1.0). Muscala alone had 42 blocks through 17 games last season.
• Brian Fitzpatrick is now shooting 70.4% in Patriot League games, and he is 17-for-19 (.895) in his last four contests.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell hosts Boston University on Saturday at 2 p.m. The contest against the Terriers will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
• Boston University is off to a 6-0 start in Patriot League play (13-6 overall) and is ranked 20th in this week’s College Insider Mid-Major Poll. Among the Terriers’ non-conference wins was an 83-77 decision at Maryland on Dec. 21.