Bison take on No. 6 Villanova

By Greg Stevenson

Senior Writer

In one of the most hyped weekends for the University’s men’s basketball team in five years, the Orange and Blue reminded fans of past basketball heroics and proved to the Patriot League and to the nation that they are not all hype.

Facing two traditional Big East conference powerhouses, No. 6 Villanova and Marquette, the Bison hung tough, pushing both Big East foes to the limit before bowing out in the final minutes of the second half.

On Friday night, the Bison traveled to Philadelphia in one of their most anticipated matchups of the season against the Villanova Wildcats. Defensively, the Orange and Blue stymied the Wildcats, holding them to just 68 points, but the Bison could not mount anything on offense and fell to the Wildcats 68-52.

The Villanova advantage was eight after G.W. Boon ’11 drilled a three-pointer at the six-minute mark in the second half. That was the closest the Bison got the rest of the way, as Villanova ended the game on a 14-6 run.

Corey Fisher was one of three Wildcats to score in double-figures, leading the way for Villanova with 24 points. Darryl Shazier ’11 and Mike Muscala ’13 scored 12 and 10 respectively to keep the Orange and Blue in the contest until the final minutes.

If Friday’s game against Villanova was a step in the right direction for the upcoming season, Sunday’s contest at the Marquette Golden Eagles could be the start of a Patriot League championship run for the Bison.

Even though the Bison faced a trip from Philadelphia to Milwaukee and an under-48-hour turn-around time, the Orange and Blue did not show it early against the Golden Eagles. The Bison offense that was held to 52 points in their opener exploded for 41 in the first half, giving the team an eight-point advantage at halftime.

A free throw by Joe Willman ’13 at the 10:22 mark in the second half gave the Bison an 11-point lead.

The Golden Eagles had other ideas about a Bison upset, though. Marquette scored 24 unanswered points over an eight minute stretch, turning a 12-point deficit into a 12-point lead with two minutes left, one the Golden Eagles would not relinquish, escaping with a 72-61 victory.

Bryson Johnson ’13 tallied 18 points, all on three-pointers. Boon and Willman each scored 11 in an overall balanced scoring effort for an Orange and Blue squad that gave two top-tier teams all they could handle in one weekend of play.

After hanging tough with two Big East powers over the weekend, the opening week of play for the Bison culminated with a 66-38 blowout victory against the Binghamton Bearcats in the 2011 home opener. The Orange and Blue put on a defensive show for their fans in Sojka, limiting the Bearcats to under 25 percent shooting from the floor and outscoring Binghamton 41-20 in the second half.

The Bison look to build on a stellar opening week with four games in five days, all on the road, starting with a trip to Saint Francis tomorrow evening. The Orange and Blue then head to Harrisonburg, Va., home of the James Madison Dukes, for their final three contests of the CBE Classic. The Bison face Presbyterian on Monday, Princeton on Tuesday and the Dukes on Wednesday.

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