LEWISBURG, Pa. – Down by thirteen at the half, the Bucknell women’s basketball team outscored Lafayette 42-26 in the second stanza, battling right down to the final buzzer to earn a 75-72 win in a nail-biter on Wednesday evening. With 1:34 on the clock, sophomore Tyler Craig converted a steal by junior Audrey Dotson into a breakaway layup, giving Bucknell its first lead of the night, and Dotson sealed the come-from-behind win with two perfect shots from the line. The Bison, playing their first Patriot League contest of the season in Sojka Pavilion, improved to 7-6 overall and 2-1 in conference play, while the Leopards fell to 6-8 overall and 0-3 in league action.
“We were down at halftime,” allowed Dotson, “but we talked about coming out strong in the first couple of minutes of the second half and setting the tone. I think every one of us bought in, and it was really great to come out and push hard to get ourselves back in the game. I think the impact of our united effort showed.”
Dotson put forth a stellar performance on both ends of the court to lead the Bison, scoring a season-high 24 points on 7-of-14 (.500) from the field and 9-of-10 (.900) from the line. The forward also collected a game-high nine rebounds, dished out four assists and made two crucial steals. Senior Shelby Romine joined Dotson in double-digits, using a big second half to score 15 points, hitting 3-of-5 from long range. Romine also handed out a game-high seven helpers, including a pivotal dish to Craig for the go-ahead basket late in the game.
Lafayette’s offense was sparked by a trio of players scoring in double-digits, as Emily Homan grabbed 15 points to lead the Leopards while Annette Snow and Maddie Peabody had 14 and 10, respectively. Snow pulled down nine rebounds and Peabody added six assists, while Danielle Fiacco asserted herself around the basket, making seven blocks in the contest.
After heading into the locker room with a 46-33 deficit, the Bison came out to start the second with a united sense of determination and energy, steadily whittling away the Leopards’ advantage with a 21-10 run to open the second 20 minutes of action. Freshman Megan McGurk, who shot 3-of-7 from three to score nine points in the contest, hit a long-range basket from the wing with 13:03 to play, narrowing the Leopards’ lead to 56-54 and forcing them to call a timeout.
Lafayette answered Bucknell’s surge with a 9-2 run of its own to extend its advantage to ten with 8:02 to play, but as the seconds ticked off the clock the Bison continued to up the pressure, hitting shots and getting stops to keep themselves in the game. Dotson hit a three-pointer and four free throws to narrow the gap to three with just under six minutes to play, but four quick points from Homan extended the Leopards’ lead once again.
Junior Katherine Harris, who led an impressive effort by the Bucknell bench with a season-high eight points, sunk a beautiful three-pointer from the left wing with 4:00 on the clock to narrow Lafayette’s edge to 68-72, and Romine grabbed two from the line a little over a minute later, making it a two-point game with 2:43 to play.
A huge steal by Craig forced another Lafayette timeout, and Dotson brought the Bison within one with 1:58 remaining, hitting her seventh free throw of the night. Just 20 seconds later, Dotson, Craig and Romine combined for the play of the game, sparked by Dotson’s crucial steal. Craig took the ball down the court on a breakaway and sent it over to Romine who sent it right back, allowing Craig to finish the layup and give the Bison a 73-72 lead, their first of the night.
With 25 seconds left on the clock it appeared that the Leopards would have the final shot of the game, but Linnel Macklin’s jumper fell short, and a subsequent foul by Madeline Fahan sent Dotson to the line for two. The junior sunk both shots, putting Bucknell up 75-72, and Fahan’s half-court three at the buzzer bounced off the rim, giving the Bison a thrilling victory in their Patriot League home opener.
Bucknell, which is now 4-1 at Sojka Pavilion this season, shot 35.8 percent (24-of-67) from the field in the contest, and 39.1 percent (9-of-23) from three-point range, hitting a sizzling 6-of-12 in the second half. The Bison also made 18 of their 20 free throws for 90 percent accuracy from the line.
Lafayette’s offense owned the first half, as the Leopards shot 50 percent (19-of-28) from the field in the opening 20 minutes before being held to just 28.6 percent (10-of-35) in the second half by the Bison. The visitors hit 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from long range and 75 percent (6-of-8) from the line, and also held a 46-38 advantage on the glass.
“It’s great to head into tomorrow’s practice with a win under our belts,” said head coach Aaron Roussell. “Our focus over the next two days will be to continue to improve and place an emphasis on making winning a habit. A lot of teams can play well for one game, but we want to show our identity a little bit, make winning a trend, and then hopefully make things happen down the road.”The Bison continue Patriot League play on Saturday, Jan. 11, with their third road contest in two weeks, traveling to Worcester, Mass. to take on the Crusaders at 2 p.m. Holy Cross, which is 11-3 overall and 3-0 in conference action, held on for a 70-65 win at Colgate on Wednesday evening. Saturday’s game, and all of this season’s conference match-ups, will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.