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March 9, 2013LEWISBURG, Pa. ?- Fourth-seeded Army (16-15) fought back from an seven-point second half deficit to take a two-point lead with less than five minutes to go, but No. 1 Bucknell (27-5) answered with a 9-1 run to take the lead for good en route to a 78-70 win Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.
The Black Knights posted the program's first winning record since the 1984-85 squad went 16-13.
Army trailed 51-44 before outscoring the Bison 17-8 to take a 61-59 lead with 4:52 left. Freshman Kyle Wilson put the Black Knights on top with a three-point play. The Bison answered with a three-pointer that started their decisive run. Bucknell scored its final 14 points from the free throw line to ice the game.
Wilson scored 21 points, his seventh 20-point effort of his rookie season. The Patriot League Rookie of the Year finished the season with 404 points, just the third 400-point campaign by a plebe in Army history. Classmate Kyle Toth added 13 points, while senior Ella Ellis and plebes Larry Toomey and Kevin Ferguson each scored 11. It was the first time in Ferguson's young career that he posted back-to-back double-digit efforts. He also led the Black Knights with six rebounds and blocked two shots to extend his Army single-season record to 35. Freshman Dylan Cox added four assists to become only the second Army rookie and first since Randy Cozzens in 1981-82 to tally 100 assists in a season.
Army shot 38.0 percent for the game and made five of its 18 three-point tries (.278). The Bison hit 47.2 percent overall and were 4-for-12 from deep. Bucknell held a 31-28 rebounding edge.
Mike Muscala posted a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Cameron Ayers scored 19 points, 17 of them in the second half, while Bryson Johnson netted 12 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer.
Bucknell's win kept No. 1 seeds unbeaten in Patriot Tournament semifinals (23-0).
The Bison scored first, but Wilson hit a three-pointer to give Army a 3-2 lead with 19:11 left. The Bison answered with a 9-2 run to claim an 11-5 lead with 15:58 left. A three-pointer by Ryan Hill made it a seven-point game with 11:54 to go, but the Black Knights scored five of the next seven points to make it a four-point game with 10:58 left.
Bucknell took its largest lead of the first half after scoring four straight points to lead 22-14. A 10-4 Army run that included three-point plays by Wilson and Ferguson brought the Black Knights back within two points at 26-24 with 6:02 showing on the clock. The Bison regained a five-point lead, but Toomey's second three-pointer of the half made it a two-point game with 3:12 left.
Back-to-back baskets by Muscala pushed the Bison's advantage back to six points at 35-29. Ellis knocked down two free throws with 1:02 left to make it a four-point game before Hill made one of two free throws to extend Bucknell's lead back to five. Army had the last shot, but a Toomey's three-point try was just off the mark, sending the Black Knights into the locker room down 36-31.
Army's halftime margin was just five despite shooting only 38.5 percent (10-26) in the first 20 minutes. The Bison hit 53.6 percent of their attempts (15-28). Both teams were 3-9 from deep. Wilson and Muscala led their respective teams with 10 points in the opening stanza.
The Black Knights scored six of the first eight points to open the second half, pulling within one at 38-37 after a Ferguson basket with 17:17 left. Ayers went to work for the Bison scoring 10 of the team's next 13 points as they extended their lead back to seven points at 49-42 with 12:27 remaining. Down by seven, Kyle Toth buried his first three-pointer of the game to get Army within four points.
Bucknell extended its lead back to six and led 57-51 when Wilson hit a driving layup and Toomey knocked down one of two free throws to make it a one possession game at 57-54 with 8:02 left. Army cut the lead to two on a free throw by Lenox with 7:39 showing on the clock.
Army continued to chip away, and trailed by one when Wilson hit a driving layup while being fouled. His free throw gave the Black Knights their first lead since the opening minute at 61-59 with 4:52 to go. The Army advantage was short-lived however. Johnson buried a three-pointer and Ayers gathered a loose ball rebound and converted a fastbreak layup for a quick 5-0 run and a 64-61 Bison lead with 3:54 to go.
Bucknell iced the game from the free throw line, converting 14 of 16 shots from the free throw line in the final 3:26. The Bison built a nine-point lead on two occasions before taking the eight-point victory.
The Bison will face No. 2 Lafayette in the Patriot League Championship on Wednesday night.
Game Notes: Army made its fourth semifinal appearance in the last seven seasons Ella Ellis finished his career fifth on Army's all-time scoring ledger with 1,585 points he is also fifth on the three-point list with 193 Saturday's game was the last for Ellis and fellow seniors Jordan Springer and Jason Pancoe the group is the first senior class to 1985 to go out with a winning record Army averaged more than 70 points per game for the first time since 2000-01 the team's 72.4 scoring average is the seventh best in Academy history Kyle Toth's 54 three-pointers ranks second on Army's rookie list Kyle Wilson's 37 are tied for eighth on the same list.