BALTIMORE, Md. – Junior Audrey Dotson scored 28 points, 24 of which came in the second half, and collected 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season, leading Bucknell to a 67-60 win over Loyola on Wednesday night at Reitz Arena. The Bison improve to 10-7 overall and 5-2 in Patriot League action with the win, matching their conference wins total from last season and achieving their best league record through seven games since 2007. The Greyhounds fall to 4-14 overall and 1-6 in conference play with the loss.
“I thought we did a really good job in the second half of making a point to get the ball in,” said head coach Aaron Roussell. “We took care of it. I thought the inside-out touches that we had were really good. Our kids adjusted and they played a tough game.”
Dotson, who matched her career-high with 28 points, shot 8-of-12 (.667) from the field and 11-of-13 (.846) from the line in the contest, and added three assists, two blocks and a steal to her stuffed stat line. Senior Shelby Romine also scored in double digits for the Bison, tallying 17 points to go along with her seven rebounds and five assists, while freshman Claire DeBoer contributed eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Lisa Mirarchi topped the Greyhound offense with 16 points and five assists, while Tiffany Padgett and Nai Brown had 14 points and 10 points, respectively. Nneka Offodile and Nicole Krusen each grabbed six rebounds to lead the squad on the glass.
The Bison struggled to find their groove in the first half of the contest, as the opening 20 minutes featured a flurry of fouls and miscues for both sides. Bucknell went 4-for-4 from the line to get on the board, and then a jumper by sophomore Sheaira Jones built up a 6-3 lead for the squad, but the next several minutes were consumed by a back-and-forth defensive struggle that allowed Loyola to work its way back into the game, resulting in a 10-10 tie with 11:49 on the clock.
Back-to-back threes from sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan and Romine sparked the Bison offense, and junior Micki Impellizeri fed on the momentum, increasing the team’s lead to 18-13 on a beautiful feed from Dotson. The Greyhounds answered with a 6-0 run, giving them a one-point edge, but sophomore Tyler Craig responded with a well-executed lay-up, taking the lead right back for the Bison with just over six minutes remaining.
Pressure in the post and a full-court press resulted in a frustrating end to the stanza for the Bucknell offense, and it was held to just two points down the stretch. The defense kept the game close, limiting and pressuring Loyola’s shots, but the Greyhounds took a 26-22 lead into the locker room at the half.
Bucknell shot 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from the field in the first half, holding a slight advantage over Loyola’s 40.7 (11-of-27) shooting percentage, and the Bison also held a 14-13 edge on the glass at the break.
A determined Bucknell squad took to the court for the second half, and Dotson scored four straight to pull the Bison even after just one minute of action. The squads would battle for control over the next several minutes, tying the score on four more occasions, but Dotson, who exploded for 24 points in the second 20 minutes, drained a three and battled through the paint for a layup to put Bucknell up 40-35 with 13:36 on the clock.
The Greyhounds weren’t finished yet however, regaining the lead with just over ten minutes remaining, but Dotson snatched it right back with a two-point basket and Romine followed that up with a three-pointer that further ignited the offense. The contest remained close, with Loyola managing to tie the score on two more occasions down the stretch, but the feisty Bucknell squad continued to fight the Greyhounds off with gutsy plays and firm control of the rebounding game.
With the scored knotted 53-53 and 2:25 left on the clock, Dotson converted a three-point play to snap the tie and then the Bison relied on the strength of their pinpoint shooting to pull away from the scrambling Greyhounds. The team went 9-for-10 from the line in the final minutes of the contest, with Dotson hitting both of her shots and Romine capitalizing on seven of her eight opportunities to clinch the 67-60 win.
“At halftime we really focused on getting back to Bucknell basketball and doing what we do best,” said Dotson. “I think we are a well-conditioned transition team, and we weren’t really doing that as well in the first half, so we just focused on that and moving the ball and everything worked out.”
Loyola held a slight edge from the field in the contest, hitting 46.2 percent (24-of-52) of its shots, while Bucknell finished at 45.5 percent (20-of-44). The Bison were an impressive 79.3 percent (23-of-29) from the line, and they also held a 33-23 advantage on the boards.
Bucknell will remain on the road this weekend, heading to Massachusetts on Saturday for its first ever match-up with league newcomer Boston University. The Terriers, who are 7-13 overall and 2-5 in conference play, dropped a 63-56 decision to American at home on Wednesday evening. Tip-off for Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the game will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.