LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team jumped out to an 18-point lead early in the contest and kept the momentum rolling until the final buzzer on Tuesday night, playing to a 66-41 win over Youngstown State in Sojka Pavilion. The Bison, who improve to 3-3 overall and 2-0 at home with the triumph, defeated the Penguins for the first time in 26 years, and their 25-point margin of victory was the largest in the series between the two teams. Youngstown State falls to 1-3 with the loss.
“Tonight’s performance is a credit to our depth right now,” said head coach Aaron Roussell. “I thought our post players made a really good run to start the game. Claire and Audrey had a tough matchup on the defensive end that they handled really well, but I thought they also did a tremendous job offensively.”
Audrey Dotson continued to light up the floor for Bucknell, scoring 22 points and pulling down 10 rebounds to record her third double-double of the season and the seventh of her career. The junior shot 7-of-14 (.500) from the field and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line, while also dishing out three assists. Fellow forward Claire DeBoer picked up right where she left off on Saturday, scoring a career-high 15 points on 7-of-11 (.636) shooting, collecting eight rebounds and adding a pair of assists, blocks and steals to her stuffed stat line.
The Bison, who dominated the Penguins in every statistical category over the course of the game, shot 23-of-59 (.390) from the field and a scorching 88.9 percent from the line, sinking 16-of-18 free throws. A strong Bucknell defense held Youngstown to 23.1 percent from the field and a measly 15.8 percent from long range, while battling to a 46-43 advantage on the glass.
Bucknell continues to find ways to shut down its opponent’s best shooter, holding Heidi Schlegel, who was averaging 24 points per game coming into the contest, to just 15 in Sojka. Latisha Walker collected a team-high eight rebounds for the Penguins and also added 8 points to the Youngstown offense.
What appeared to be an even matchup in the first minute of the contest quickly shifted towards Bucknell’s favor, as the Bison held the Penguins scoreless for over 11 minutes in the first half, cruising to a 22-4 lead on strong drives and dependability from the line. Youngstown finally found its way onto the board again with 7:22 left on the clock, but Bucknell’s diligence and crafty playmaking only increased its lead over the visitors.
A streaky end to the half allowed Youngstown to make some moves, but the Penguins didn’t even come close to touching the Bison, and Bucknell headed into the locker room with a 15-point lead at the half.
The Penguins made a run in the opening minutes of the second, narrowing the gap to 12 with five quick points and then sticking with the Bison through the first media timeout. The rally was short lived however, and a three-pointer by junior Katherine Harris put Bucknell up by 23 with 12:28 on the clock.
Hot shooting from the field carried the Bison through the final minutes of the contest, and the squad’s defense continued to pressure the Penguins into offensive mistakes, giving Bucknell a 30-point lead with less than four minutes remaining. The Bison played every last second of the game with feisty passion however, as was evident when freshman Jorden Sneed covered up a loose ball at the free throw line and dumped it in to classmate Sune Swart for the layup that sealed a 66-41 win for Bucknell.
“We’ve really talked about coming out in the opening minutes of each half and pushing the ball,” commented Dotson. “We want to make sure we set the tone early, that everyone’s energy is up and that we are all on the same page. It worked out for us tonight and against Cornell, and I’m sure it will in the future too.”
Bucknell will hit the road on Saturday, Nov. 30 for a 12 p.m. game at NJIT before returning to Sojka Pavilion for three consecutive home contests. The fun in Lewisburg begins on Wednesday, Dec. 4 when the Bison welcome the Towson Tigers for a 7 p.m. matchup.