Lehigh downs Bucknell in Patriot

Blocked shot with 7 seconds left and free throws seal the conference crown
March 8, 2012 12:00 am
  • C.J. McCollum drove Lehigh to the Patriot League title and resulting NCAA bid with 29 points Wednesday night.
    C.J. McCollum drove Lehigh to the Patriot League title and resulting NCAA bid with 29 points Wednesday night.
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Gabe Knutson blocked Cameron Ayers' baseline layup attempt with seven seconds left and C.J. McCollum scored 29 points to help Lehigh (26-7) hold off Bucknell (24-9), 82-77, to win the Patriot League tournament.

After Mackey McKnight missed two free throws, the second-seeded Bison trailed, 78-77, and had a chance to take the lead, but couldn't get the ball into leading scorer Mike Muscala. Ayers drove underneath the basket, where McCollum swatted his shot away.

McCollum and Jordan Hamilton each hit two free throws in the final four seconds, and Lehigh began celebrating after clinching its second trip to the NCAA tournament in three seasons.

This one will be especially sweet for Lehigh after beating top seed Bucknell on its home floor.

Lehigh rarely flinched behind league player of the year McCollum, who hit an array of tough shots to help withstand Bucknell's second-half rally from an 11-point deficit.

Muscala finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds for Bucknell.

Buoyed by a boisterous crowd of 4,267 fans at cozy Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., the Bison nearly broke through several times -- but never held a lead the entire night.

Bryson Johnson hit two 3s within four seconds, including an open 3 from the corner with 34.5 seconds left to get within 78-77.

McKnight was fouled with 26 seconds left but missed both to set up Bucknell's decisive possession and Knutson's block.

Lehigh won for the second time this season on Bucknell's home floor. The first victory Feb. 16 ended the Bison's 10-game league winning streak.

Lehigh became the first Patriot League team to beat the top seed in the tournament since then-No. 2 seed Bucknell beat Holy Cross, 61-57, in 2005.

Other tournaments

• Pac-12: Lazeric Jones scored 15 points and fifth-seeded UCLA (19-13) got untracked after an awful first half to beat rival Southern California, 55-40, in the opening round in Los Angeles. ... Devon Collier scored 19 points, Eric Moreland scored all his 11 in the second half and high-scoring Oregon State (18-13) excelled in a defensive struggle for a 69-64 victory against Washington State (15-16).

First Published 2012-03-07 23:18:24

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