Riding the nation’s longest conference winning streak heading into Wednesday’s matchup against Colgate, the Bison men’s basketball team had no issues extending that run to 19 games, dating back to last season, with a 66-50 victory over the Raiders.
“Colgate is a good team. They have good shooters that can really spread the floor, so that always makes them a dangerous team,” Bryson Johnson ’13 said. “Playing at Colgate is always a difficult challenge too. They always give us a good game when we go up there.”
The story of the contest was the Raiders’ offense, but only for its futility and inability to produce points. A stout Orange and Blue defense forced Colgate to shoot under 20 percent from the field for most of the game. Only until the final minutes, when the game was far from in doubt, did the Raiders break the 20-percent mark.
On the other side of the ball, the Orange and Blue used the same game plan that has helped yield 11 consecutive wins overall—balance. Three Bison scored in double figures, with Bryan Cohen ’12 leading the way with 12 points. Forwards Mike Muscala ’13 and Joe Willman ’13 each added 11 points.
With three out of their next four games against the Patriot League’s toughest competition, head coach Dave Paulsen gave his first-stringers some much needed rest. No starter played more than 24 minutes and all 14 members of the team saw the court for at least three minutes.
In their first contest of their second series of conference play, the Bison held off a stingy Army Black Knights squad, 81-68, at home last Saturday night. The Orange and Blue finished the Black Knights off late to grab the series sweep from the only team in the Patriot League to defeat them last year.
The Bison see the tough win as a blessing, with many stronger opponents left on the schedule.
“I think it prepares us well and showed that we can win games even when we don’t play a pretty game,” Johnson said. “It is important that we do not look ahead of our schedule and just take it game by game.”
Normally the Bison’s defensive stopper, Cohen took charge of the offense, scoring 19 points, his season high. Honored before the game for notching his 1,000th career point last week, Cohen broke a 50-50 tie midway through the second half with a three-point play, giving the Orange and Blue the lead for good.
Unlike their struggles against Colgate, the Bison played one of their best and most efficient games against Army. The Orange and Blue shot a resounding 70 percent from the field in the first half, yet led by just eight at halftime.
Muscala, Johnson and Cameron Ayers ’14 joined Cohen with double-figures in points.
With the heart of their league schedule coming up, the Bison will host Lafayette Saturday night at 7 p.m. on espn3.com and ESPN Full Court in their first of two straight games against Pennsylvania schools on television. Lehigh comes to town Thursday night for their matchup on CBS College Sports.
Despite all of the hype surrounding two tough league contests in front of a national audience, the Bison remain focused on the task at hand—winning a Patriot League regular season title.
“If we do what the coaches have outlined for us and play to our ability, we will be fine,” Johnson said. “But we know if we don’t do those things, then we can lose to anyone in our league.”