Lafayette’s season and seven-game winning streak came to an end with a 64-56 loss to Bucknell in the Patriot League Championship game Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion.
Trailing 10-8 after a Seth Hinrichs ’15 jumper, Bucknell put together a 10-2 run that included a pair of three-pointers by Ben Brackney and a Mike Muscala two-handed slam to take an 18-12 advantage nearly 13 minutes into the game.
A long two by Dan Trist ’15 pulled Lafayette within four, but Muscala pushed Bucknell’s cushion to 22-14 with a pair of buckets prior to another basket inside by Brian Fiztpatrick to complete a 16-4 run for the Bison. The Leopards scored four of the final six points to end the half and went into the break trailing 26-18.
Bucknell opened the second half with four straight points to make it a 12-point game, but Lafayette came back with seven in a row, sparked by a Bryce Scott ’16 two-pointer and back-to-back shots by Joey Ptasinski ’15 to force Bucknell to call timeout at 30-25.
After Ptasinski cut it to 30-27 with a back door cut and lay-in off a feed from Tony Johnson ’13, Bucknell’s Ryan Frazier put in consecutive layups. The second came off a turnover in the backcourt and led to a three-on-one and an easy deuce to push the lead back to seven for Bucknell with 13 minutes to play.
A foul-line jumper by Levi Giese drew Lafayette within 40-36 at 8:25 and then he followed it up with a block of Muscala on the other end. A chance to pull within one possession went awry as Scott slipped as he tried to receive a pass. Cameron Ayers then made one of two at the stripe, and Ptasinski and Muscala traded two’s. Then Trist drilled a baseline jumper and Lafayette was within three points with 6:30 to go.
Bucknell (28-5) answered with the next eight points, including two turnarounds by Muscala and a layup off a miss by Joe Willman with 3:52 showing. A pair at the line by Willman extended it to 13 a minute later. Bucknell led by as many as 15 before Lafayette cut it to 60-53 on Scott’s three free throws with 40 seconds left. Lafayette failed to get any closer as Bucknell eventually came away with the 64-56 victory.
Ptasinski ended the game with a team-high 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Scott added 13 and Johnson 11 for the Leopards, who shot 40 percent from the floor for the game. Johnson and Hinrichs (7 points) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Leopards could not get things going from three-point range, shooting 5-of-15 (33 percent) while holding Bucknell to 2-of-9 (22 percent). Lafayette held its own on the glass, outrebounding Bucknell 36-33.
Muscala, the Patriot League Tournament MVP, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, joined in double figures by Willman (14, pts, 8 reb), a fellow All-Tournament selection. The Bison did much of their work at the free throw line, converting 18-of-23 (78 percent). Lafayette shot 11 free throws in the game, making seven, and failed to reach the bonus in either half.
Lafayette finishes its season at 19-15 overall. The Leopards will return three starters for the 2013-14 season.