WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army's (10-13, 3-5 PL) game-tying attempt at the buzzer was just off the mark, giving Bucknell (20-4, 7-1 PL) a 60-58 win in Patriot League action at Christl Arena Saturday afternoon. The Black Knights trailed by 11 with 8:48 to go, but pulled within a basket on two occasions.
A three-pointer by Bryson Johnson gave Bucknell a 47-36 lead, but a 14-5 Army run that included seven points by freshman Kyle Wilson, trimmed Army's deficit to 52-50 with 4:13 left. Bucknell answered with another three-pointer by Johnson, but Kyle Toth came right back with a three of his own for the Black Knights. Bucknell's Cameron Ayers scored five straight points to put the Bison on top 60-54 with 2:20 to go, but four straight foul shots by senior Ella Ellis made it a 60-58 game with 1:27 left.
Neither team scored for the remainder of the game. Army had three chances to tie, but misfired on its last three field goals. After an offensive rebound by Cox with 8.1 seconds to go, the Black Knights called time out to draw up a final play. Cox was able to squeeze off a 17-foot jumper, but the ball glanced off the rim, preserving Bucknell's win.
Wilson was Army's leading scorer with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Plebe Larry Toomey and Ellis were also in double figures with 10 points each. Cox led Army with six rebounds and two assists.
Ayers led all scorers with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Johnson was next with 17 points and a game-high six assists. The Army defense limited the Patriot League's leading scorer, Mike Muscala, to 12 points, seven below his average, on 3-for-12 from the field. Muscala did complete a double-double with 10 rebounds.
Both teams shot below 40 percent for the game. The Black Knights were 21-for-55 (.382) overall and 5-for-15 from deep (.333). Bucknell shot 20-for-51 (.392), but hit at a 50.0 percent clip in the second half. The Bison made five (5-8) of their seven three-pointers in the final 10 minutes, 41 seconds of the game.
The two teams were even on the glass, 33-33, but Army held an 11-8 edge on the offensive end. Army outscored the Bison 24-14 in the paint. The two teams entered the game ranked first and second, respectively, in rebounding and were also 1-2 in rebounding margin.
The Bison scored the first seven points of the game before Cox knocked down a three-pointer to put Army on the board at the 15:20 mark. The triple ended Army's 0-for-5 start from the field. Army cut the lead to 9-7 on a jumper by Ellis with 13:13 left, but a 6-2 Bucknell run stretched the Bison lead back to six at 13-7.
Army closed the gap back to a basket after a layup by Maxwell Lenox with 8:01 showing on the clock, but the Bison answered againwith six of the next eight points to go up 19-13. Toomey then single-handedly tied the game with six straight points. The first basket of the run was a thunderous left-handed dunk over Muscala that also included a foul. After the free throw, the Bison turned it over which led to a Toomey three-pointer that knotted the game at 19-19 with 4:15 left in the half. The teams exchanged baskets before the Bison scored the final four points of the half to go into intermission up 25-21.
Both teams shot less than 30 percent in the first 20 minutes. The Bison were 8-for-27 (.296) overall and 2-for-11 (.182) from deep, while Army was 8-for-28 (.286) with a 2-for-10 (.200) showing from behind the three-point line. Toomey paced the Black Knights with six first-half points, while Ayers had seven for the Bison.
Army struck first in the second half on a three-point play by Wilson, but Bucknell scored the next five points as part of a 12-4 run to take a nine-point lead. The Black Knights closed within 30-28 on a jumper by Toomey, but the Bison answered right back with seven straight to claim a 37-28 lead with 12:57 to go. Army cut the lead to seven on a layup by Jordan Springer with 11:22 to go, but a three-pointer by Johnson gave Bucknell its first double-digit lead of the game at 42-32 with 10:41 left. Cox answered with a triple, but the Bison scored five of the next six points to take an 11-point lead and set up the frantic finish.
Army starts a two-game road swing on Wednesday, Feb. 13 when it travels to Lafayette. The Black Knights won the first meeting of the season, 77-54, at Christl Arena.
Game Notes: Head coach Zach Spiker re-inserted Ella Ellis into the starting lineup … Ellis was joined by plebes Dylan Cox, Kyle Toth, Kyle Wilson and Kevin Ferguson … plebe Larry Toomey had is 16-game starting streak ended … Cox is the only Army player to have started all 23 games … Cox had his six-game streak without committing a turnover ended … Bucknell is the only Patriot League team Cox has committed a turnover against … Josh Herbeck returned from a foot injury that sidelined him for 11 games … his last game was versus Rosemont on Dec. 22 … Kevin Ferguson blocked a shot for the sixth straight game … he is now tied for fifth on Army's single-season list (21) … Wilson moved into seventh place on Army's freshman scoring list with 293 points … Army will go for its first season sweep of Lafayette since 2009.