NEWARK, N.J. – Three different Bison scored in double-digits and the squad jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half, but NJIT came charging back in the second to defeat Bucknell 61-59 at the Fleisher Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon. The Bison fall to 3-4 overall with the loss, while the Highlanders improve to 2-6 with the win.
Junior Audrey Dotson led Bucknell in scoring for the fifth time this season, contributing a game-high16 points on 6-of-12 (.500) shooting and 4-of-7 from the free throw line. The forward, who has scored 10+ points in each of Bucknell’s first seven contests, also collected seven rebounds, dished out two assists and made one block in a solid all-around effort.
Sophomores Claire Maree O'Bryan and Sheaira Jones also scored in double-digits for the Bison, with O’Bryan scoring nine of her 15 points from the line and Jones collecting eight of her 10 in the first half. Senior Shelby Romine led Bucknell on the glass, collecting nine boards, and also dished out an impressive five assists.
Alyssa Albanese was NJIT’s top scorer, tossing in 13 points on 5-of-11 (.455) shooting, while Uju Nwankwo turned in a double-double for the Highlanders, scoring 11 points and pulling down 11 rebounds in the contest.
The beginning of the contest belonged to Bucknell, as the Bison jumped out to a 17-6 lead, holding the Highlanders scoreless for five of the opening eight minutes. NJIT cut Bucknell’s advantage to seven on layup by Nwankwo, but two points each from freshman Megan McGurk and Dotson returned the Bison edge to 11 with 6:22 on the clock.
NJIT chipped away significantly at Bucknell’s lead in the final minutes of the half, spurred by two three-pointers from Denisa Domiterova, but the Bison hung on, taking a 26-23 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The second half featured 20 hotly contested minutes of basketball, as the teams tied things up on five occasions and neither side was able to build more than a five-point edge. The Bison hung on to their lead through the first five minutes of play, with Dotson and freshman Claire DeBoer each overcoming the Highlander presence around the hoop to connect on layups, but a three-pointer by Martina Matejcikova at 14:36 put NJIT on top 34-32.
Dotson quickly evened the score with a fallback jumper, but the next five points belonged to the Highlanders, giving them their biggest lead of the contest.
Romine and DeBoer each knotted the score in the final 10 minutes, and Bucknell regained the edge when a fastbreak layup by DeBoer put the Bison up 49-47 with 6:51 on the clock. The momentum continued to shift to Bucknell’s favor when Dotson converted a three-point play, pushing the Bison lead to five.
However, with 2:04 left in the contest, Albanese worked her way into the paint and scored, putting NJIT on top by one and giving her team a lead that it would cling to until the final buzzer.
The Bison battled down to the very last second, pressuring the Highlander offense and creating chances of their own, but the home team held on, taking the 61-59 win.
Bucknell shot 36 percent from the field in the contest, connecting on 18-of-50, while NJIT sunk 22-of-55 (.400). The Highlanders were hot from beyond the arc, hitting 7-of-19 (.368), while the Bison remain dependable from the line, making 21-of-25 (.840) free throws. Bucknell won the battle on the boards, outrebounding NJIT 34-31.
The Bison, who have played five of their first seven games on the road, will return to Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday, Dec. 4 for the first of three consecutive home contests, welcoming Towson to Lewisburg for a 7 p.m. tipoff.