Holy Cross came into the Patriot League Tournament with all the momentum but a hot shooting night from Lafayette guard Rob Delaney and an ice cold streak down the stretch were too much for the Crusaders to overcome. In other quarterfinal action, the top seeds all easily won, as Bucknell, Lehigh and American advanced to the semifinal stage, joining Lafayette in the second round for a repeat of last year's second round.
(5) Lafayette 84, (4) Holy Cross 76
The Leopards led from start to finish with Holy Cross unable to slow them down for any substantial stretches. Delaney (25 points, three rebounds and four assists) helped Lafayette (13-17) shoot 58.5 percent (24-of-41) from the field and 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from beyond the arc. The junior guard knocked down all five of his 3-point attempts, 8-of-9 field goal attempts overall and added four free throws on six attempts.
Junior point guard R.J. Evans led Holy Cross (15-14) with 18 points and seven rebounds and added three assists and three steals. Senior leader Devin Brown finished with 17 points and five steals in his final collegiate game. Holy Cross managed to tie the game at 56 and cut the deficit to 61-60 in the second half, but failed to connect on a field goal for 7:30 minutes late in the final stanza.
Lafayette controlled the game from the opening minutes, as they jumped out to a 12-2 lead at the Hart Center. Even after several first half runs, the Crusaders still found themselves trailing 43-38 at the half.
The second half was much of the same, as Holy Cross earned their first tie (56-56) before the Leopards went on a 5-0 run to take the lead back. After a 4-0 spurt by the Crusaders brought the game to 61-60 with nine minutes to play, Holy Cross went scoreless for the next 7:31, as the missed two field goals and turned the ball over four times in the span.
The Crusaders final burst brought them to within three (76-73) with with 41 seconds to play but Lafayette knocked down all eight of their free throws in the final minute.
With the loss, Holy Cross' season comes to an end with the Crusaders finishing at 15-14 and 10-3 in Worcester. It was the final game for three seniors: Mike Cavataio, Charlie Mills and Brown. Catavaio, a St. John's transfer, played three seasons with the Crusaders and was a starting small forward for two. Mills was a four-year walk-on for the team and Brown was a two-year starter and two-time Patriot League All Second Team selection.
(1) Bucknell 87, (8) Navy 63
The defending champions had no problems against Navy (3-26) as they extended two dubious streaks for the Midshipmen. Behind 18 points from Joe Willman and 15 off the bench from Bryson Johnson, the Bison (23-8) handed Navy it's 21st consecutive loss and NCAA leading 12th straight conference tournament loss.
Bucknell shot 62.7 percent (32-of-51) from the field and over 50 percent from distance, as they won their fourth consecutive Patriot League Tournament game. Sophomore guard Cameron Ayers finished with 10 points and five assists and First Team selection Mike Muscala finished with just two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes for the Bison.
Navy fell behind 41-21 at halftime and saw the deficit reach 30, before putting together a spirited fight to cut the deficit to as a few as 22. Sophomore guard Isaiah Roberts finished with a game-high 20 points and five assists for the Midshipmen.
With the win, Bucknell advances to Saturday's semifinals, where they will host Lafayette at 4:30 p.m. EDT.
(2) Lehigh 70, (7) Colgate 57
In the closest games these two teams played all season, Lehigh (24-7) outlasted Colgate (8-22) 70-57 behind four players in double figures. Sophomore guard Mackey McKnight finished with 16 points and Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum added 15 more, as the Mountain Hawks capitalized on 22 Colgate turnovers to pull out the victory.
After beating the Raiders by an average of 26 points per game in two regular season contests, Lehigh needed a 15-0 run in the second half to pull away from Colgate. McCollum was a big factor in the win, as he recorded a Patriot League Tournament Record seven steals, in helping to force the 22 Colgate turnovers.
Senior forward Sterling Melville made the most of his final collegiate game, as he finished with a game-high 21 points off the bench for Colgate. The Raiders outshot the Mountain Hawks, 41.3 percent to 38.1 percent, pulled down seven more rebounds (32-25) and even held a slight edge from the free throw line but couldn't overcome their struggles handling the ball.
With the win, Lehigh will host (3) American Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT. The two teams split a pair of games during the regular season, with both teams winning on their home floor.
(3) American 57, (6) Army 40
A swarming defense and a balanced offense were more than enough Wednesday night, as American (20-10) ended Army's (12-18) season with a 57-40 victory.
American held the Black Knights to just 11 first half points and 26.3 percent (15-of-57) shooting from the field, as Army was held to it's lowest total of the season for the third time and the second time by the Eagles. Junior point guard Daniel Munoz was the lone American player in double figures with 11 points and also dished out a team-high four assists.
Ella Ellis, a First Team All Patriot League Member, finished with a game-high 13 points and added 10 rebounds, for the lone double-double of the night. Senior guard Julian Simmons added nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field but Army just couldn't get anything going offensively, as they made just 4-of-26 (15.4 percent) of their 3-point attempts.