MEN'S BASKETBALL Bucknell takes Patriot, earns NCAA berth
nThe Bison beat Lafayette, 64-56, to reach the tournament for the second time in three seasons. ASSOCIATED PRESS,
Mike Muscala scored six of his 20 points during a decisive second-half stretch to help Bucknell capture its second NCAA tournament berth in three seasons with a 64-56 win over Lafayette on Wednesday night in the Patriot League title game.
Joe Willman had 14 points and eight boards to form a potent frontcourt duo with Muscala, the conference player of the year for the top-seeded Bison (28-5). Muscala also had 11 rebounds.
Just like two years ago, Bucknell beat Lafayette (19-15) on its home floor to advance.
Joey Ptasinski had 15 points for Lafayette, including several buckets during a key second-half sequence that helped narrow a 12-point deficit to single digits. Ptasinski's layup off a backdoor cut drew the Leopards within 41-38 with 7:17 left.
That's when the 6-foot-11 Muscala took over, hitting turnaround jumpers and dominating the post during a 10-2 run that extended the lead to 51-40 with 3:52 left.
Seldom-used reserve Ben Brackney added two 3-pointers during a key first-half run that helped the brainy central Pennsylvania school secure its sixth NCAA appearance.
Bryce Scott's 3 from the wing got Lafayette within 62-56 with 21 seconds left, but Brackney (eight points) hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to seal the victory.
Villanova 66, St. John's 53: Mouphtaou Yarou made his first seven shots and scored 18 points, sending the Wildcats to a victory over the Red Storm in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday night.
Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points to help the seventh-seeded Wildcats (20-12) move into the quarterfinals, where they will play tonight against fourth-ranked Louisville, the tournament's No. 2 seed.
Villanova has an RPI ranking of 53 but appears to be in good shape for an NCAA tournament berth thanks to three wins over top 5 teams this season, plus a victory over Marquette, which shared the Big East championship.
Cincinnati 61, Providence 44: Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points to lead the Bearcats past Providence in a Big East tournament game between teams desperate to improve their postseason credentials.
JaQuon Parker added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats (22-10), who might have solidified an NCAA tournament berth with the win. No. 9 seed Cincinnati advanced to a quarterfinal matchup today with No. 5 Georgetown, the top seed, at Madison Square Garden.
Syracuse 75, Seton Hall 63: James Southerland hit five 3-pointers in the first half to keep the No. 19 Orange in the game and Brandon Triche keyed a big second-half run that gave Syracuse a victory in the second round of the Big East tournament.
Fifth-seeded Syracuse (24-8) extended its Big East tenure with the win and the Orange will play fourth-seeded and 17th-ranked Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals today.
Arizona State 89, Stanford 88: Jahii Carson scored five of his 34 points in overtime, Carrick Felix had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Sun Devils held off the Cardinal in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament.
Carson, who missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation, put Arizona State up three with a layup in overtime, and Evan Gordon hit 5 of 6 free throws to send the Sun Devils to the quarterfinals against No. 21 UCLA.
Colorado 74, Oregon State 68: Spencer Dinwiddie scored 20 points and the Buffaloes picked up a much-needed win at the Pac-12 tournament, holding off the Beavers in the first round.
Xavier Johnson had 16 points and Andre Roberson 12 for the fifth-seeded Buffaloes 21-10), who moved on to face No. 4 seed Arizona in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Texas Tech 71, West Virginia 69: Dejan Kravic rebounded Texas Tech's desperation shot and dropped it into the bucket just ahead of the buzzer, lifting the Red Raiders over the Mountaineers in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.
Texas Tech (11-19) will meet the regular-season champion, No. 7 Kansas (26-5), in today's quarterfinals.
Mississippi State 70, South Carolina 59: Fred Thomas scored a career-high 21 points as the Bulldogs, the No. 13 seed, defeated the Gamecocks, the No. 12 seed, in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Mississippi State (10-21) advanced to a second-round game today against No. 5 seed Tennessee (19-11), which has won eight of its last nine games.