The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 3, 2014

College Basketball: Bucknell's Ayers is PL Player of the Year

By The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — Cameron Ayers entered his senior year with the unenviable task of replacing two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala as Bucknell’s go-to scorer. Not only has Ayers handled that scoring and leadership void for the Bison with aplomb, but he is now a Patriot League Player of the Year himself.

The league’s head coaches picked Ayers as the conference’s top player as well as a First Team All-Patriot League selection, and they also named sophomore Chris Hass to the All-Patriot League Third Team.

Ayers is the sixth Patriot League Player of the Year from Bucknell — the most of any league team — joining Patrick King (1992), Mike Bright (1993), Charles Lee (2006) and Mike Muscala (2011 and 2013). Ayers also earned some type of postseason honors for the fourth straight year. He made the Patriot League All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2010-11, he was a Second Team All-PL choice as a sophomore and a First Team selection in each of the last two seasons. Ayers is the 19th player in league history and the sixth from Bucknell to earn three or more all-league citations.

This season, Ayers ranks second in the Patriot League in scoring at 15.5 points per game, and his 16.2 average in league games also ranks No. 2. He is shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range and a league-best 87.3 percent from the free-throw line.

The Bison co-captain has only 36 turnovers in 29 games despite ranking in the top 10 in the league in minutes played. He has scored in double figures in 27 of the 29 games, including a career-best 22 in a row in one recent stretch. Ayers scored a career-high 25 points in a close loss at St. John’s, and he hit 5 of 6 from 3-point range and scored 19 points in a win at Penn State.

Ayers had a stretch during league play when he scored 20 or more points in four straight and six out of eight games. He scored 22 points in a big home win over Army, including 13 during a game-ending 23-9 run, which led to his second Patriot League Player of the Week honor of the season. Ayers’ 22-point performance at Loyola was capped off by the game-winning 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining.

In Bucknell’s home victory over Lehigh last week, Ayers became the ninth player in program history to eclipse the 1,500-point plateau. He also ranks third in Bucknell history in free-throw percentage, fifth in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made, and 10th in field goals made.

Ayers has been one of the league’s top defensive guards this season, and he is now part of the winningest senior class in program history. He has participated in 94 victories over the last four years, the most of any Bucknell player ever.

After seeing limited court time as a freshman a year ago, Hass has emerged as one of the top offensive players in the league this season. He ranks second on the team in scoring at 10.9 points per game, and his Patriot League scoring average of 13.0 points per game is eighth-best in the conference.

Now 16-13 overall and 11-7 in conference play, the Bison will be the No. 4 seed in the Patriot League tournament; they’ll host No. 5 Army on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion.