JARED ANGLE / THE EAGLE
The free throw line stands 15 feet away from the basket. That distance became a deciding factor Jan. 30 in a 56-55 AU defeat.
For over 35 minutes the free-throw line was extremely kind to the Eagles. AU (7-14, 2-4 PL) only missed two free throws in that time, and Bucknell (18-4, 5-1 PL) missed ten. The Eagles then missed their final four free throws and the Bison made four of their final six in the closing minutes.
“Obviously the missed free throws were a key,” Head Coach Jeff Jones said. “ … To win a close game, particularly against a quality opponent like Bucknell, you can’t find ways to beat yourself.”
The Eagles were also unable to secure late rebounds. With just over two minutes left, Danny Munoz made a deep three with one second left on the shot clock to put the Eagles up by six. All AU had to do was nurture the six point lead through making free throws and rebounding the basketball. The Eagles did neither.
The Bison grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, none more important than the final two.
Bucknell’s Mike Muscala supplied both, late offensive rebounds. He turned those rebounds into the Bison’s final four points, including the game winner with less than a second left.
“You’re not gonna stop a guy like Muscala,” Jones said. “But I thought we were successful at least at making him work for his points.”
Muscala worked for 16 points and had 14 rebounds, five of which were offensive. All three were game highs.
The loss drops the Eagles to 0-8 when tied or trailing at halftime. AU’s next game is Feb. 2 at home against Lafayette.