Army snaps Bison win streak at nine

By Greg Stevenson

Senior Writer

The men’s basketball team entered its contest on Saturday at Army on a nine-game winning streak, but it was the Black Knights who looked like the streaking team, scoring 90 points en route to a 20-point victory over the Orange and Blue. The defeat was only the second for the Bison since December, and it ended their quest for a perfect season in the Patriot League.

The Black Knights fired right out of the gates, showing the first-place, undefeated Bison that they had come to play. Tied at 17 eight minutes into the game, Army went on a 13-2 run for an 11-point lead, one the Orange and Blue would challenge but never overcome.

Army went into the locker room at the intermission with an eight-point advantage, having shot over 60 percent from the field.

“Army came out the gate shooting very well from three,” G.W. Boon ’11 said. “They also made a lot of hustle plays that we are accustomed to making, and that was the difference in the game.”

In the second half, the Bison traded baskets with the Black Knights, keeping the game close until the 10-minute mark. Army proved to be too much for the Orange and Blue, pulling away late for the 90-70 victory.

“They shot very well from the perimeter and were able to get these open looks in transition and from dribble penetration,” said Mike Muscala ’13, the leading scorer and rebounder for the Bison this season.  “We weren’t making the right defensive rotations, which left them a lot of open shots, and when they did miss, we didn’t do a good job of getting rebounds.  They played with more intensity than us from start to finish.”

Muscala controlled the paint on both ends of the floor for the Orange and Blue. On the offensive side, he tallied 20 points despite drawing many double- and triple-teams from the Black Knights.

Defensively, Muscala grabbed nine rebounds and recorded three blocked shots. His presence underneath the basket forced Army to shoot from the perimeter, which proved to be the difference in the contest.

Cameron Ayers ’14 registered 17 points, while Bryan Cohen ’12 and Joe Willman ’13 scored 11 each, but these individual performances were not enough to overcome Army’s potent attack from three-point range.

“In almost every Patriot League game that we had played up until the Army game, we were able to get off to a good start, and if the shots weren’t dropping, we were able to get defensive stops,” Muscala said.  “Every time we got something going for us on offense against Army, they answered on the other end, which we could never overcome.”

The Bison entered the Army game having won 13 of their previous 14 contests, including dramatic victories over Richmond, one of the nation’s best teams, and rival Holy Cross, thanks to last-second baskets by Muscala. The nine-game winning streak the Bison took into the contest versus Army had been the fifth-longest in the country.

The Orange and Blue begin the second round of Patriot League play Saturday night at home versus a Navy team they beat by seven earlier this season.

“The Army game was simply a bump in the road,” Boon said.  “We may not end up with a perfect conference record, but we still have the opportunity to be an excellent team.  It gives us a chance to highlight some of our weaknesses and attack those deficiencies in practice. Our team will only become stronger from the game at Army.”

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