It was a very good day indeed

Bucknell wasn't the only team with a win Sunday.

Overshadowed by the Bison's upset of Pitt was what was perhaps the Patriot League's best non-conference day of the season. Six teams saw action, five of them won. Only lowly Army, which fell to almost-as-lowly Cornell (AP wrap|Box score), ended up on the short side of the scoreboard.

It was an impressive enough showing to get the attention of the Hoops Junkie, who wrote, "five Patriot League schools took someone behind the woodshed to start the new year" in its introduction to what it refers to as its "tour of Patriot ass-whuppings."

All told, the five Patriot League wins were enough to jump the conference up two spots over the weekend to No. 23 in the conference RPI.

Bucknell, by the way, zoomed from No. 105 to N0. 68 with the win over Pittsburgh. Holy Cross remains the league's best RPI team at No. 38. American also moved up from 137 to 111. (Click here foror the rest of the Patriot League's RPI rankings.)

Holy Cross, which will have one more tuneup, Wed. vs. Dartmouth, before Saturday's conference showdown with Bucknell, used its trademark stingy defense to win at Rhode Island, 51-10 (AP wrap|Box score w/play-by-play).

Here's an excerpt from today's story in the Worcester paper. As usual, no link since they require a subscription
:"Today was two teams playing exceptionally hard and aggressive," (Ralph) Willard said. "I thought the defense at both ends of the floor was special."

"Special" is the Crusaders holding the Rams to 34.6 percent from the field, including a 15.8 percent performance from behind the 3-point arc. They did not allow a field goal in the final five minutes of the game.

The Rams were just as stingy, allowing 38.9 and 21.1 percent in the same categories. They did not allow a field goal in the final four minutes.

The key for Holy Cross was the play of sophomore point guard Torey Thomas. He scored 11 points, dished out 5 assists and had only 2 turnovers against heavy pressure from URI.
Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal made a pretty good point in the lead of his game story:
When a basketball team is trailing by four points heading into the final five minutes and is unable to score a field goal the rest of the way, it usually doesn't win . . .

Four times in the final 70 seconds, URI had possession of the ball with a chance to win. But the Holy Cross defense prevented the Rams from scoring.
Fun note from that game, courtesy of the Projo:
Gregg Burke, URI's new deputy athletic director, had a problem yesterday. He is a Holy Cross grad who has worked for his alma mater and became an active supporter of the school. "Who else would wear a tie like this?" Burke said, proudly showing off a necktie with stripes of Keaney blue and Holy Cross' royal purple.
In Easton, Lafayette picked up a nice 65-62 win over a pretty good Columbia team ((Lafayette Web site recap)|(Box Score)).

As the headline on Corky Blake's story in the Express Times said, The Leopards are putting together the pieces. For those of you not paying attention, this was Lafayette's third win in its last four starts. Granted one of those wins was over a D-III, but then, too, the loss was to No. 9 Georgia Tech.

Bottom line, as we have said before, Fran O'Hanlon has this team improving each time out. If one of the supposed top teams in the league doesn't watch out, the Leopards are going to trip them up.

American won on the road, beating Delaware 64-58 (Box score) in Newark, Del.

AU started slow, then closed strong, according to the story in the Wilmington News-Journal:
Delaware failed to score on its last five possessions of the first half, but still went into intermission up 32-27.

American then scored on six of its first eight possessions of the second half and never trailed after Patrick Okpwae's two foul shots inched the Eagles ahead 41-39 with 14:23 to go. They were part of a 22-5 American run in which Delaware had six turnovers and made two of eight shots over 13 possessions.
Lehigh was also a winner, topping Wagner, 59-50. (AP wrap|Box score w/play-by-play)

In tonight's action:

Navy visits Air Force (9:05 p.m.). The Patriot League Web site also lists a Princeton at Colgate game on tonight's schedule, but if that is actually going to happen, it will be news to Colgate, which does not show any game tonight on its schedule.

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