TICKET SALES: Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal tickets for both the men and women will go on sale to the general public this Friday at 10 a.m. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Campus Box Office, over the phone at 570-577-1000 or online. The men’s game will be played at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5, and the women’s quarterfinal contest will be on Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team clinched a home Patriot League tournament game for the first time since 2011 on Wednesday evening, securing a fourth-place finish in the conference with an 87-78 win over Lehigh at Stabler Arena. The Bison, who earned their first road win since Jan. 22 and completed their first series sweep of the Mountain Hawks since 2007, improved to 16-11 overall and 11-6 in the Patriot League, surpassing their win total from last season. The home team fell to 12-16 overall and 5-12 in conference action with the loss.
A true team effort won the game for the hot-shooting Bison, as four different players tallied 15+ points in the contest, led by junior Audrey Dotson’s 19-point effort, which came on an impressive 8-of-16 (.500) from the field. Senior Shelby Romine, who became the fifth Bucknell player in program history to score 1,500 points with a layup midway through the second half, registered a double-double for the second straight contest, chipping in 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with her three assists and two steals. Freshman Claire DeBoer and sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan also put up big nights for the Bison, each finishing with 15 points, while DeBoer added nine rebounds and led the team with four assists and three steals.
Lehigh’s post players combined for 45 of their 78 points, as Elizabeth Sharlow and Kerry Kinek each had 20+ point performances in the loss. Sharlow finished with a game-high 24 points, shooting 11-of-14 (.786) from the field, while Kinek tossed in 21 points and collected 10 rebounds.
A sluggish start for both teams kept scoring limited in the first half, and the Bison didn’t find their way onto the board until over three minutes in when a crafty layup by sophomore Tyler Craig knotted the score at 2-2. The squads proceeded to trade baskets through the first media timeout, playing to three more ties before a 14-6 run by the Mountain Hawks gave them a 26-14 edge with 9:12 to play.
Bucknell flipped the momentum in its favor instantly however, responding to Lehigh’s surge with back-to-back three-pointers from Dotson and O’Bryan. The six quick points sparked a 13-0 run for the Bison during which they held the Mountain Hawks scoreless for almost three minutes and took their first lead since just before the 16-minute mark.
The game of runs quickly dissolved into a back-and-forth battle however, with neither team able to gain more than a two-point lead for the remainder of the stanza. Six lead changes and four ties later the Mountain Hawks had a one-point edge, but sophomore Sheaira Jones battled for a tough defensive rebound and raced down the court to toss up a shot with six seconds on the clock, giving the Bison a 41-40 lead at the half.
Bucknell out-hustled Lehigh in the first 20 minutes of action, playing to a 26-25 rebounding advantage and out-scoring the home team 8-4 in second-chance points. The Bison also held the shooting edge in the opening stanza, hitting 43.9 percent (18-of-41) from the field to the Mountain Hawks 37.8 percent (17-of-45).
Dotson opened up scoring in the second half and the Bison seemed to be gaining a firm handle on Mountain Hawks, building a 52-46 lead with 14:40 to play. Five quick points from Lehigh’s Elizabeth Jordan brought the home team within one however, and the game would remain close until Romine sparked another scoring flurry that allowed Bucknell to pull away for good.
Romine evaded the Mountain Hawk’s dominant post presence twice to open the 16-5 run, and kept the Bison rolling when she drained two three-point shots in less than a minute. O’Bryan converted a traditional three-point player to preserve Bucknell’s 12-point edge, putting them up 73-61 with 8:45 to play.
Bucknell maintained the double-digit lead as time wore off the clock, relying on stellar shooting and stiff defense to pull ahead by 13 points at the final media timeout of the contest. Lehigh remained a pesky presence until the final buzzer however, scoring six points out of the break to threaten one last time, but Dotson and Romine combined for six points of their own down the stretch, securing the 87-78 win.
The Bison shot a blistering 60.7 percent (17-of-28) from the field in the final stanza, giving them 50.7 percent (35-of-69) accuracy in the contest, and they played to a 43-37 advantage on the glass. The squad was also hot from long range and at the line, hitting 5-of-10 (.500) three-pointers and 12-of-15 (.800) free throws. Lehigh also shot well, averaging 43.4 percent (33-of-76) over the course of 40 minutes of action, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome Bucknell.
Bucknell will play its final regular-season contest of the 2013-14 campaign on Saturday when it welcomes American to Sojka Pavilion for a 2 p.m. tip-off. The Eagles, who earned a 63-50 win over Navy on Wednesday night, currently sit in third place in the conference with a 13-4 record. Bucknell and American last squared off in the conference opener for each squad, with the Eagles earning a 77-40 win in that match-up.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s contest, Bucknell will honor Romine for her accomplishments and contributions to the program before she plays her last regular-season game at Sojka Pavilion. The contest, and all of Bucknell’s home games, will be video streamed by Bison Vision and available free of charge on the Patriot League Network.