The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 3, 2013

Men's basketball: Bucknell's Johnson scorches Navy from distance

Senior sets Bison mark from the arc


Daily Item

---- — By Todd Hummel

For The Daily Item

LEWISBURG -- Bryson Johnson's last three games at Sojka Pavilion haven't been among the best shooting games of his career.

The senior had struggled, hitting just 2 of 12 shots from behind the arc in Bucknell's last three games at home.

"It was just one those things," Johnson said. "Teams have been playing me pretty tight. It's been giving other guys opportunities."

However, conditions were ripe for Johnson's struggles to end with Navy visiting in the final game of the first half of Patriot League play.

With the Midshipmen in a 2-3 zone Saturday night, Johnson had plenty of opportunities for good looks behind the arc.

"I love a 2-3 zone," Johnson said. "The coaches have been telling me to hunt my shot a little more, especially against the zone."

Johnson knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers, becoming Bucknell's all-time leading 3-point shooter in the process, as the Bison rolled to a 69-54 Patriot League victory over Navy.

"Number one, it was a tremendous honor for Bryson (to set the 3-point record)," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. "He had the hot hand and the guys found him. It was gratifying to get into a little of an offensive flow."

Bucknell (19-4 overall, 6-1 PL) jumped the Midshipmen early, leading by 10 points 7:50 into the game. Navy got the lead under double digits just once the rest of the way.

"Our word (Saturday) was 'attack.' I thought we attacked at both ends of the floor and on the glass," Paulsen said. "There were a lot of positive things."

Johnson keyed the early spurt, knocking down three 3-pointers. His first of the game broke the Bison school record of 294, set by Kevin Bettencourt (2002-06).

Johnson finished the game with exactly 300 three-pointers for his career. He is just two away from Garrison Carr's Patriot League record of 302.

"After rebounding him for four years in our various shooting drills in practice, I know once he hits couple (of threes), there are going to be more coming," Bucknell center Mike Muscala said. "He's the best shooter I've played with in my life."

Muscala only took four shots on the night, finishing with 11 points, but he did most of his damage on the glass, nearly out-rebounding Navy by himself. Muscala tied his career-high with 19 boards, while the Midshipmen had just 20 rebounds as a team.

Navy (7-16, 1-6) had one chance to get back into the game. Trailing by 16 late in the first, the Midshipmen cut the lead to 10 with six consecutive points bridging the halves to cut the Bison advantage to 34-24 with 19:01 left.

Bucknell ended any thoughts of a comeback with a 10-0 spurt, capped by back-to-back jumpers by Joe Willman to push the lead to 44-24.

It was a perfect scenario for the Bison on Saturday as the starters were able begin their week-long break with some extra rest in the second half.

No Bucknell player played more than Johnson's 29 minutes, and the starters sat for the final six minutes of the game. Thirteen Bison played at least four minutes against Navy.

Kevin Alter led Navy with 15 points off the bench, while Worth Smith and Brandon Venturini each chipped in 11.