Bucknell downs Army in 1st Round, 59-47

In the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, 8th-seeded Army played valiantly against superior competition, hanging tough with the once-nationally ranked and number 1 seed Bucknell Bison for most of the first half. However, late Bucknell runs in both halves and spotty officiating were too much to overcome. Bucknell finished Army's season with a tough 59-47 win. Army ended the season at 5-22 (1-14 in the Patriot League) with obvious hopes for improvement next season.

On cue, the game started slowly, with both teams feeling each other out. Bucknell held a slim 6-4 lead 5 minutes into the game, capped by a Charles Lee 18-foot jumper. Marshall Jackson followed a Bucknell 3-pointer by John Griffin with 5 straight points to tie the score at 9 with 10 minutes left. John Moonshower added 4 consecutive points following a Chris McNaughton layup to give the Black Knights the lead 13-11 with 8 minutes to play. Matt Bell hit a trey to extend Army's lead to 16-13 with about 5 left. Bucknell sandwiched 4 free throws and a McNaughton 18-footer around a Jarell Brown jumper to lead 19-18, but another Matt Bell 3 gave Army a 21-19 advantage. The striped shirts were not on Army's side; however, and Matt Bell was whistled for his 3rd foul at this point. Army was already over the limit while Bucknell had only been whistled for 1 team foul to that point. This definitely changed the game as Bucknell subsequently went on a 9-0 run, with the first half ending in the Bison's favor, 30-23.

Still, Army fought to stay in the game. The Black Knights opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Jarell Brown to close the gap to 4. Bucknell then went on a 6-0 run, capped by more free throws, to take a 10-pt lead 4 minutes into the second half. Army again would not quit. Another Jarell Brown trey followed by 2 Doug Williams layups and 2 Matt Bell jumpers helped Army pull to within 4, 41-37, with 10 to play. Bucknell then just stepped up the defense, and showed why they went undefeated in the Patriot League. They rolled off 14 straight points to take a commanding 55-37 lead with 4 minutes to go. John Moonshower and Matt Bell hit consecutive treys to bring the deficit back to 10, but that was as close as Army could get, and Bucknell closed Army's season with the 59-47 victory.

Bucknell received contributions from several players. Chris McNaughton paced the team in scoring with 14. Kevin Bettencourt added 13, and Patriot League player-of-the-year candidate Charles Lee poured in 12 points, to go with 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Abe Badmus once again gave the Army guards fits with his defense, taking the ball away 5 times while also adding 8 assists.

For the Black Knights, co-captain Matt Bell led the way with 13 points, the definite turning point of the game occurred when he picked up his 3rd foul of the game in the first half. In fact, the officials seemed "trigger-happy" against the Black Knights, whistling Army for 19 fouls to only 6 for the Bison. Bucknell went to the charity stripe 26 times while Army never made it to the foul line.

Jarell Brown once again scored double figures with 10, and "instant offense" John Moonshower contributed 9 points in only 12 minutes. Freshman Doug Williams played a nice game against the tall Bucknell front line and added 4 points and 5 rebounds.

Last, but certainly not least, senior co-captain Erik Engstrom scored a layup early on, and led the Black Knights with 6 rebounds in his final collegiate game. Sincere best wishes to Erik on his upcoming graduation from the academy and continued success in both his military career and all his future pursuits.

Army often played very poorly this year, and their 5-22 record shows it. They must definitely play better in friendly Christl Arena next year, as they did not gain a Division I win at home all season. However, efforts like this one do give hope to the Army faithful, and with almost an entire roster returning, more experienced, plus another influx of good freshmen bode well for better times ahead for the Army mens basketball program.

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