ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team looked to earn its second consecutive comeback victory on Wednesday night, drawing within a point of Navy with slightly over two minutes to play, but the rally fell just short, and the squad dropped a 70-61 decision at Alumni Hall. The Bison fell to 13-10 overall and 8-5 in conference action with the loss, while the Mids improved to 19-5 overall and 11-2 in Patriot League play with the victory.
Senior Shelby Romine and freshman Megan McGurk both scored 14 points in the contest to lead the Bison, while sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan also finished in double-digits, contributing 11 points. Freshman Claire DeBoer had six points and a team-high seven rebounds, while junior Audrey Dotson contributed another well-rounded effort, collecting seven points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
The Mids were led by Kara Pollinger and Jade Geif who scored 27 and 20 points, respectively, to combine for over 67 percent of the team’s total score. Audrey Bauer chipped in nine points, while Alix Membreno also played significant minutes, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
The Bison hit the ground running, jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes of the contest on red-hot shooting and solid rebounding, and McGurk’s jump shot with 16:02 on the clock forced the Mids to call a timeout. Bucknell’s tough interior defense held Navy without a field goal for the first 4:23, but the home team responded to a line-up change after the media break, scoring seven quick points to cut the visitors’ lead to two.
Dotson answered right back, hitting a pressured jumper to provide her squad with some security, but the next three minutes featured a brutal defensive battle, with neither side able to fire off a good shot. Bauer broke through with a three-pointer however, and Geif forced her way into a layup with 9:43 on the clock, giving the Mids their first lead of the night.
Sophomore Sheaira Jones’ three-pointer from the right wing tipped the momentum back in Bucknell’s favor, but Navy tied things up with 7:51 to play, setting up a grueling struggle for control that would take the teams into halftime.
Two good free throws from O’Bryan knotted the score at 21-21 with 2:53 on the clock, and a fastbreak layup by McGurk put the Bison up by one. Pollinger came alive from long-range in the final minutes of the stanza however, hitting two in the last two minutes, including one at the buzzer that send the Mids into the break with a 27-25 edge.
Neither team hit an abundance of shots in the first 20 minutes, with Bucknell sinking 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the field to Navy’s 35.7 percent (10-of-28). The Bison did play to significant edge on the boards however, outrebounding the Mids 24-15.
DeBoer tied things up at the start of the second half, hitting the first shot of the stanza to knot the score 27-27, but the tide quickly turned, as the Mids responded with a 14-0 run that spanned four minutes, taking a commanding lead over the Bison. O’Bryan halted the streak, draining a three to reinvigorate Bucknell’s offense, but Navy preserved the double-digit edge for the next eight minutes, due in large part to the efforts of Geif and Pollinger.
A home victory was not guaranteed however, as the Bison seem to be able to come back from anything and tonight was no exception. Geif hit two from the line to give the Mids a 14-point advantage with 8:02 remaining, but O’Bryan hit her second three-pointer of the night and McGurk drained one of her own on the next possession, slicing Navy’s lead to five with 5:28 on the clock.
While Membreno answered with a three-point shot for the Mids, the Bison’s accuracy from long-range only improved, as Dotson and Romine bookended two good free throws from O’Bryan with three-pointers of their own, tying the game at 59-59. Navy grabbed the lead right back however, holding on tightly through all of Bucknell’s last-minute efforts.
McGurk made both parts of a one-and-one to bring the Bison within a point, and Dotson had a good look from three to tie the game 30 seconds later, but it fell just short. The Mids drained one final three and were accurate from the line as the clock wound down however, squeezing out a 70-61 victory.
The Bison finished the contest with a 40.4 percent (21-of-52) shooting accuracy, while the Mids came in at 44.1 percent (26-of-59). Bucknell really shone from long-range however, hitting 9-of-22 (.409), including 7-of-13 (.538) in the second half, and the squad also finished the game with a 36-33 advantage on the boards.
Bucknell will complete its tour of the service academies on Saturday, traveling to West Point for a 1 p.m. contest with Army. The Black Knights, who dropped a 92-85 decision to Holy Cross on Wednesday night, have played to a 17-6 overall record and a 9-3 conference mark. Back in January, Bucknell earned a 56-55 win over Army in a nail-biting finish, and the Bison will look to sweep the Black Knights for the first time since the 2011 season with a victory this weekend. The game will be video streamed and available free of charge on the Patriot League Network.