The AU men’s basketball team suffered its second conference loss of the season after falling 67-61 to Bucknell University Jan. 25 at Sojka Pavilion.
“It was a tough loss,” AU Head Coach Jeff Jones said. “Our guys worked really hard, and, at times, we did a really nice job defensively. But against a team as balanced as Bucknell, you make a mistake and they really capitalize.”
With the loss, the Eagles (13-8, 4-2 PL) dropped into a three-way tie for second place in the Patriot League with Lehigh University and Lafayette College. The Bison (16-6, 6-0 PL) hold the top spot and extended their winning streak against conference opponents to 16.
AU got off to a good start in the opening 10 minutes, jumping out to an 11-9 lead with 10:45 left in the first half. The Eagles were able to maintain the lead for nearly the entire first half until a 10-2 Bucknell run gave the Bison a 24-23 advantage with 1:45 to go until halftime.
“I thought we played great team defense,” said Tony Wroblicky, who recorded seven points and nine rebounds for the Eagles. “We limited them to one shot, and we did great on the boards; we outrebounded them in the game [31-26].”
The Eagles went into halftime trailing the defending Patriot League champions 28-25.
Bucknell started the second half strong, opening up a double-digit lead at 41-30 with 12:46 left in the contest.
One of the biggest keys to Bucknell’s success was 2011 Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala, who posted his third straight double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“Muscala is very good,” Jones said. “He’s made a big step since last year, and last year he was the Patriot League Player of the Year. But the thing that makes him particularly difficult to guard is the fact that Bucknell has good balance.”
Muscala and his supporting cast continued the impressive play, and by the time AU was able to mount a comeback and climb to within four points, there were only 15 seconds left on the clock.
Daniel Munoz was the main standout for the Eagles, as the point guard totaled a team-high 16 points and a game-high four assists. Charles Hinkle notched 12 points, while Troy Brewer was held to just two on 1-8 shooting from the field.
AU will face another tough conference opponent Jan. 28, when they take on Lafayette in Easton, Pa.
“The Lafayette game is huge,” Wroblicky said. “We’re both 4-2 in the league, and they knocked us out of the playoffs last year, so we’d definitely like to get some payback. It would feel really nice to beat them, so we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”