It's been a few weeks since I've been to a mid-majority game and I needed to get my fix. So, when I saw a tweet mentioning that Bucknell was hosting Navy in a first round Patriot League game I decided to make the trip.
Bucknell is a team that has been the cream of the Patriot league for a few years now, earning multiple NCAA tournament trips and even gaining a few wins against high-profile teams such as Kansas in 2005 and Arkansas in 2006.
I purchased a ticket online at the Bucknell athletic website for $12 and thankfully they didn't have any of those annoying "convenience" fees. Even better, the ticket was for the first row right behind the media table so I was able to get some good photos as well.
I've been to Sojka Pavilion a couple of times to see my brother swim in states, and once last year when covering a game for Stadium Journey. Ironically, my seat for this game was directly behind the media seat I had for the game last year and the game I attended last year was also a laugher versus Navy.
One of the best things about a game at Sojka Pavilion is the student sections behind each basket. While Bucknell has a pep band, cheerleaders and a dance team, the atmosphere at the arena is dictated by the students. Since the students are split between the two baseline areas, you will often hear loud chants that go back and forth, firing up the adult crowd in between.
Navy was welcomed with the traditional newspaper reading by the student section, but thankfully there were few boos.
The game itself started out a bit close, with the score with 9:08 left in the first half being 13-11 in favor of Bucknell as Navy hit their first shot inside the arc. From there, the game quickly got out of hand when Bucknell started to convert some lay-ups, which caused Navy to go into the infamous Ed DeChellis 3-2 zone.
This left the Bucknell three point shooters wide open and they drained five straight 3-point attempts to open up a 41-21 half time lead.
Half time entertainment was the "sassiest dance team east of the Mississippi river" according to the PA announcer.
While the dance team was better than most, the students summed up the general reaction from the fans in this photo.
More entertaining was the head-butting contest and push-up contest between the Bucknell Bison mascot and the Navy Ram mascot.
The 20 point lead by Bucknell at half time was quickly stretched to 30 points just a few minutes into the second half. This led to a drawn out second half where neither team showed much emotion and finishing the game was just a formality.
Thankfully the coaches provided us some highlights with their facial expressions and reactions to the general game play and the resulting calls by the referees.
First I took a few shots of the many shades of red Navy's Ed DeChellis' face can display.
Then I took a few photos of the more animated Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen.
Finally the game ended with a 87-63 Bucknell win. Combined with the Lafayette win over Holy Cross, the Bison will host Lafayette on Saturday at 4:30 in the second round of the Patriot League tournament.
at BUCKNELL 87, NAVY 63 02/29/2012
NAVY 3-26 (0-14) -- I. Roberts 7-10 3-4 20; J. Brickman 2-3 0-0 6; C. Smith 3-4 0-0 6; J. Sugars 1-5 0-0 3; T. Wynn 1-4 1-2 3; J. Smoot 0-1 1-2 1; J. Loupos 2-2 3-3 7; W. Smith 3-5 0-0 8; C. Montgomery 1-2 1-2 4; B. Venturini 0-3 0-1 0; K. Alter 1-1 2-2 5; T. Connolly 0-0 0-0 0; J. Liebert 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-40 11-16 63. BUCKNELL 23-8 (12-2) -- J. Willman 8-11 2-2 18; B. Cohen 1-3 4-4 7; R. Hill 2-2 0-0 5; C. Ayers 4-9 1-2 10; M. Muscala 1-3 0-0 2; B. Johnson 5-8 0-0 15; S. Kaspar 3-3 0-0 6; B. Fitzpatrick 3-3 2-3 8; B. Brackney 0-1 3-3 3; J. Singleton 1-1 1-2 3; C. Starkey 0-2 0-0 0; C. Klebon 2-3 2-2 6; P. Leo 1-1 0-1 2; E. Andoh 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 32-51 15-19 87.
Three-point goals: NAVY 10-22 (J. Sugars 1-3; I. Roberts 3-4; T. Wynn 0-3; K. Alter 1-1; J. Brickman 2-3; C. Montgomery 1-2; W. Smith 2-4; B. Venturini 0-2), BUCK 8-15 (B. Cohen 1-2; B. Johnson 5-7; C. Ayers 1-4; B. Brackney 0-1; R. Hill 1-1); Rebounds: NAVY 16 (J. Smoot 5), BUCK 21 (C. Ayers 4); Assists: NAVY 13 (I. Roberts 5), BUCK 20 (C. Ayers 5); Total Fouls -- NAVY 15, BUCK 13; Fouled Out: NAVY-None; BUCK-None.