LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team trailed by 14 with ten minutes left on the clock, but senior Shelby Romine came alive down the stretch and the Bison defense buckled down, lifting the squad to an 82-79 win over Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. The Bison, who defeated the Crusaders in overtime when the two teams met on Jan. 11, completed the series sweep of Holy Cross for the first time since 2007, improving to 13-9 overall and 8-4 in conference play with the victory. The Crusaders fell to 14-9 and 6-6 in the Patriot League with the loss.
“I am incredibly proud of the effort this team put forth today,” said head coach Aaron Roussell after the win. “The resiliency that they showed in coming back from a 14-point deficit was really impressive. At the ten minute mark we could feel that if we were going to make a run it had to be right there. We went a little bit smaller, going with the four guard setup, and that really bothered them. We were able to space the floor a little bit better, hit some shots and also open things up on the inside, allowing us to make that final push.”
Romine scored a game-high 19 points, 17 of which game in the second 20 minutes of action, and completed the double-double with 11 rebounds, also a game-high. The senior guard added six assists to her stat line, threating the triple-double for the second time this season. Three additional Bison also scored in double-digits, led by another remarkable effort from sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan, who came off the bench to score 16 points on 5-of-7 (.714) from the field, including 3-of-4 (.750) from long-range. Freshman Claire DeBoer had 13 points and seven rebounds, while junior Audrey Dotson chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a career-high seven blocks.
Five Crusaders surpassed the 10-point mark in the high-scoring contest, led by Lisa Mifsud’s 16-point and five-assist effort. Brisje Malone and Emily Parker each had 15 points, and Parker led Holy Cross on the glass with eight boards. Alex Smith finished with 12 points and five assists, while Raquel Scott, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, contributed 10 points and five rebounds.
Bucknell jumped out to a quick start in the contest, gaining a 7-2 lead with just over a minute off the clock, but Holy Cross wasn’t going to let them get away that easily, using a 15-2 run to take a 17-9 edge and turning the game into a battle.
The Bison freshmen got the team back into the contest, with Megan McGurk and DeBoer combining for six quick points to rein the Crusaders in. Sophomore Sheaira Jones followed that up with a tear of her own, finding a way to drive the hoop for three consecutive layups, knotting the score at 21-21.
A Romine feed to junior Micki Impellizeri at the rim on a fastbreak gave Bucknell its first lead of the afternoon with 8:34 to play in the first stanza, and the teams proceeded to exchange leads for the next six minutes,finally knotting the score at 40-40. Holy Cross scored the final four points of the half, however, giving the visitors the slightest, 44-40 edge at the halftime break.
The Bison were hot from the field in the first half, hitting 53.3 percent (16-of-30) of their shots to the Crusaders’ 43.6 percent (17-of-39), but Holy Cross’ 60 percent (6-of-10) effort from three-point range gave it the scoring edge.
The first ten minutes of the second half were a struggle for the Bison, as the Crusaders opened the stanza with a 19-9 run that put them up 63-49. Never a team to be counted out, Bucknell came charging back, shifting the momentum in its favor with a 15-5 run of its own and coming within two points of Holy Cross a layup by sophomore Tyler Craig.
The Bison benefited from the Crusaders’ foul trouble down the stretch, as Romine hit both parts of a one-and-one to tie things up at 68-68 and DeBoer followed that with two good free throws of her own, giving Bucknell its first lead in over 18 minutes of play.
A Romine three-pointer put the Bison up 77-70, giving them their biggest advantage of the contest with 3:55 on the clock. The teams exchanged baskets as the intensity of the battle ramped up, but crucial defensive stops by Bucknell kept it just one step ahead of Holy Cross.
The Crusaders came within one when Mifsud hit a three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining, but Romine drained two from the line ten ticks later, giving the Bison a three-point cushion. With the game on the line, Dotson made an incredible block on a tough three by Holy Cross’ Christine Ganser, but Parker came up with the offensive board, giving her team one last opportunity. She sent the ball out to Mifsud at the left corner, but her shot at the buzzer clanged off the rim, giving Bucknell the 82-79 victory.
Bucknell shot just as well in the second half of the contest, hitting 54.2 (13-of-24) of its shots to finish at 53.7 percent (29-of-54) for the day. The team, which has rapidly improved its three-point shooting in recent weeks, was also 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from beyond the arc and earned a 36-33 advantage on the boards. Holy Cross shot 44.3 percent (31-of-70) from the field and 35 percent (7-of-20) from long range, hitting just one of its ten attempts in the final stanza.
Bucknell takes to the road again on Wednesday, traveling to Annapolis for a 7 p.m. game against Navy. The Mids, who dropped a 54-48 decision to Army at West Point on Saturday afternoon, have played to an 18-5 overall record and a 10-2 mark in the Patriot League. When the teams met on Jan.15 in Lewisburg, two Bucknell buzzer beaters sent the contest into overtime, where Navy escaped with a 94-92 win. The game will be video streamed live and will be available free of charge on the Patriot League Network.