By David Driver
For the Daily Item
WASHINGTON -- It was a rough night Wednesday for Mike Muscala, the Bucknell senior standout.
He got hit in the chin with an elbow in the first half, made just four of 10 free throws and played just 30 of 40 minutes against the Eagles.
But Bucknell and Muscala came away with a 56-55 win as Muscala scored on a putback with about a second to go as the Bison beat American for the seventh straight time.
"It was an off night. We didn't play well," said Muscala, having his chin checked out by the American medical staff. "In some ways it was probably the worst game since I have been here."
Muscala ended up with 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists as Bucknell improved to 18-4 and 5-1 in the league. American is now 7-14, 2-4 and got 12 points from Stephen Lumpkins, who battled Muscala most of the night under the boards.
Cameron Ayers added 14 for the Bison, who led by five midway through the first half.
"We were not at our best today," said Bryson Johnson, who had six points. "We all have to step up. We depend a lot of Mike."
Daniel Munoz (13 points) of American hit a long 3-pointer with 2:15 left in the game to give the Eagles a 55-48 lead
But Muscala grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 21.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 55-54.
Munoz was fouled with 19.9 left and missed the free throw. Bucknell got the rebound and called timeout with 15.9 seconds left to set up the final play.
After a Muscala shot was blocked out of bounds with 5.6 left the Bison inbounded the ball and after one miss by Muscala he put in a shot with about one second left. The clock was set to .8 seconds left but a shot by American came after the buzzer as Bucknell escaped with the win.
"I was just trying to make a play," said Muscala, who credited teammate Steven Kaspar for tipping him the ball in the closing sequence.
Bucknell began the night tied for first in the Patriot League at 4-1 with Lehigh, which played won Wednesday at Navy.
The Bison made just 11 of 24 free throws and hit just one of 10 shots from 3-point range but came back for an eight-point deficit with 5:54 left in the game.
"We showed unbelievable grit and resilence," said Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen. "It was a miracle to come back" and win.
American took a 50-44 lead with 6:48 left in the game with two free throws by Munoz. The Eagles expanded the lead to 52-44 on an offensive rebound and putback by Tony Wroblicky before Bucknell battled back.