ITHACA, N.Y. – Four different Bison scored in double-digits at Newman Arena on Saturday afternoon, lifting Bucknell over Cornell, 72-59, in a fierce battle between the two squads. The Bison, who kicked off the 2013-14 campaign with a series of challenging opponents, improve to 2-3 with the victory, while the Big Red fall to 2-2.
“I’m really proud of our kids and the way that they came out to play this afternoon,” said head coach Aaron Roussell. “I thought our defensive game plan was solid and our players executed that and played their personnel really well. We played good team basketball and we had great all-around efforts from several individuals.”
Senior Shelby Romine and sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan were both hot from the field, each scoring 18 points to lead the Bison. Romine, who also contributed five assists, shot 6-for-9, including 4-of-6 from long range, while O’Bryan connected on 7-of-12. Junior Audrey Dotson continued her double-digit scoring streak, turning in an impressive all-around effort with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four blocks, while freshman Claire DeBoer added 11 points and 10 rebounds for her first career-double-double.
The Bison outperformed the Big Red on both ends of the court, shooting 53.3 percent (24-45) while holding their opponents to just 30.2 percent (19-63) from the field and 11.8 (2-17) percent from beyond the arc. Bucknell won the battle of the boards as well, outrebounding Cornell 43-38.
Stephanie Long and Shelby Lyman each chipped in 13 points for the Big Red, and Allyson DiMagno collected 10 rebounds. DiMagno entered the contest averaging 16.3 points per game, but a smart defensive effort by the Bison kept her to just four points on the afternoon.
Bucknell set the tone of the game early, opening play with 13 unanswered points and holding Cornell without a field goal for the first seven minutes to jump out to an 18-5 lead. The Big Red pushed back, holding the Bison scoreless for the next five minutes as play elevated to a quick and physical level, but freshman Megan McGurk halted the drought with a fast break layup to reignite Bucknell’s offense.
Cornell crept within six on a Lyman three-pointer, but Bucknell surged ahead in the final minutes of the half, connecting on 7-of-8 from the free throw line to take a 33-23 lead into the locker room.
Romine sunk a three-pointer to kick off the second 20 minutes of action, increasing Bucknell’s advantage to 13, but Cornell went on an 11-2 run to narrow the gap to five points with 14:44 left on the clock. The Big Red kept things close for the next few minutes, as the teams exchanged buckets, but back-to-back layups by Dotson and DeBoer put the Bison back on top by 12 with 8:48 left on the clock.
The physicality of the contest only increased as it neared an end, with a full court press by the Cornell forcing Bucknell to get creative, but the Bison continued to hit shots down the stretch, maintaining control of the contest in spite of the Big Red’s best efforts to mount a comeback.
As in the first half, play moved to the free throw line in the final minutes of the contest, and the Bison held their ground with pinpoint shooting, allowing DeBoer, who hit 3-of-4 from the line as the clock wound down, to seal the 72-59 Bucknell win with a layup.
Bucknell returns to Sojka Pavilion on Tuesday, Nov. 26 for a 7 p.m. tilt with Youngstown State. The team is sponsoring a Take-a-Kid-to-the-Game night against the Penguins, allowing fans to receive a free kid’s ticket with every adult ticket purchased.