Men's basketball extends conference streak

By Greg Stevenson

Senior Writer

Facing the toughest obstacle of its conference schedule, the men’s basketball team overcame an early six-point deficit to knock off the American Eagles 67-61 in a battle for first place in the Patriot League Wednesday night, after beating Holy Cross at home on Saturday 75-41.

Behind another double-double performance from defending Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala ’13, the Orange and Blue kept their league record unblemished at 6-0.

“Beating American was a huge win for us,” Muscala said. “They’re a good team that always plays us tough, but I think we matched up well with them.”

The second basket of the game came on a three-pointer from Bryan Cohen ’12, which gave him 1,000 points for his career in his final season in a Bison uniform. Despite his offensive milestone, it was his lock-down defense throughout the contest that provided the spark the Orange and Blue needed to pull out a hard-fought victory.

After several conference games of being guarded tightly and struggling to get open shots, Bryson Johnson ’13 finally found his stroke from behind the arc, nailing three key three-pointers in the second half. Johnson finished with 13 points, second behind Muscala’s 21.

“Honestly, every game in the Patriot League is huge because we want to have sole possession of first place to host all the tournament games in Sojka,” Cohen said. “However, this was a pivotal game since the winner of this game holds the outright number one spot. We were definitely ready to battle on Wednesday night.”

Earlier on in the week, the Orange and Blue turned in maybe their most impressive showing of the season in a 75-41 victory over a fading Holy Cross Crusaders squad. Despite starting off the game cold on offense, the Bison found their stroke and stepped on the gas peddle, outscoring the Crusaders by 23 in the second half.

“The Holy Cross game showed we’re the best team in the league, and why we were unanimously picked in the preseason to repeat as champs,” said Brian Fitzpatrick ’13, who finished with nine points. “We came out of the second half focused to continue to dominate the game. We thought Holy Cross would come out with more energy, but that didn’t happen.”

The lopsided win was the widest margin of victory for the Orange and Blue ever against their bitter rival Holy Cross.

The story of the contest was the balanced offensive attack from the Orange and Blue. All but two Bison scored in the game and three, Cameron Ayers ’13, Cohen and Muscala, finished in double figures.

“Everyone played well against Holy Cross and what makes our team special and hard to beat is our collective unselfishness,” Muscala said. “I think it’s very important that we maintain that aspect of our team.”

Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Bison will travel to Navy Saturday night in a battle between the first and last place teams in the Patriot League. The contest marks the final match-up for both teams in their first go-around of conference play. Despite facing a team with no league wins, the Orange and Blue are remaining focused.

“We’re the defending champs, and we’re committed every day to winning the Patriot League again this year,” Muscala said. “The only statement we’re looking to make is at the end of the conference tournament, and we can’t lose sight of that.”

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