LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus nearly had a triple-double, senior Claire DeBoer scored a team-high 19 points, and the Bucknell women’s basketball team staved off a late rally by Manhattan in a 69-64 win at Sojka Pavilion on Tuesday.
Bucknell improved to 8-3 on the season and set a program record with its 16th consecutive win at home. The Bison haven’t lost a game at Sojka Pavilion since falling to Youngstown State on Dec. 2, 2015.
“That was a good win against a very aggressive team,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We knew coming in this was a team that could be a matchup problem for us. We came out of the gate fantastic with a lot of energy. We were in attack mode, got some easy baskets inside and hit some threes.”
Slagus stuffed the stat sheet for the second straight game. Just one day after earning Patriot League Player of the Week recognition for her performance in the previous contest, she finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks, and four steals. The eight assists were especially notable considering she had just six assists total through the first 10 games. She tallied five blocks for the second straight game. The team had a player finish with five blocks in a game just twice in the previous two seasons.
The Bison started fast, jumping out to a 24-8 lead after one quarter and a 42-25 advantage at the half, but Manhattan upped its full-court defensive pressure in the second half and nearly pulled off a comeback. The Jaspers cut the deficit to 54-46 after three quarters and got as close as two late in the game.
Bucknell led 66-56 following a Slagus 3-pointer with 4:03 to play, but Manhattan then went on an 8-0 run. Amani Tatum, who led all players with 22 points, capped the run with a layup with 33 seconds showing on the clock. Sophomore Kate Walker hit one of two free throws at the other end, the Bison got a defensive stop on the Jaspers’ next possession, and Slagus hit a pair of free throws to ice the game with eight seconds left in regulation.
DeBoer led the Bison in scoring for the fourth consecutive game, shooting 8-16 from the field while adding four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. She has averaged 18.0 points per game during that stretch. The senior captain moved into 10th on Bucknell’s all-time scoring list with 1,311 points and eighth on the career rebounding list with 729 boards. She is one of just five players to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
The Bison played without its two starting guards due to illness and injury but didn’t miss a beat with freshman Gia Hayes scoring a career-high 12 points in her first career start. Sophomore Kate Walker finished with seven points, while sophomore Rachel Dumiak contributed five, including a clutch 3-pointer to put her team up by 14 late in the third quarter.
“We kind of got it handed to us on the boards in the second half and turned the ball over, but a lot of that was fatigue,” Roussell said. “That’s a tough team to go against without two players that have played the majority of our minutes at point. But I thought Gia stepped up tonight, and Rachel Dumiak and Carly Richardson have played well over the past two games.”
Senior Sune Swart continued to be a matchup problem in the paint, tallying 10 points on 4-4 shooting and a 2-2 mark at the line. She added three assists, helping the Bison finish with 19 for a second straight game.
Nyasha Irizarry was huge for Manhattan off the bench. She made five of her eight 3-point attempts on her way to 18 points. Kayla Grimme also scored in double-figures with 12 points, while Tatum led all players with seven steals.
Bucknell, which ranked 15th in the latest edition of the CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major Top 25, closed its non-conference slate with a record of 8-3 for the second time in three years. One year after sharing the Patriot League regular season title with a 17-1 record, the Bison enter conference play as the league favorite in a preseason vote.
The Bison will have a lengthy break before opening conference play at home against Navy on Friday, Dec. 30. They are 45-15 at Sojka Pavilion in Roussell’s five seasons, including an 18-1 record dating back to the beginning of last season.
The Mids are 7-3 after four straight wins over Air Force, Cleveland State, Liberty, and Goucher.