LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team proved once again that it has the ability to fight through adversity, narrowing a 24-point deficit to six with 41 seconds to play, but it wasn’t quite enough, as the squad fell to Penn, 69-61, on Saturday afternoon in Sojka Pavilion. The Bison dropped to 4-5 on the season with the loss, while the Quakers improved to 3-2 with the win.
“I’m not one for moral victories,” said senior co-captain Shelby Romine, “but I do think that today’s performance showed a lot of heart. We are trying to work on that ‘on-off’ switch. The team that was in the second half wasn’t the team that showed up in the first 20 minutes. It’s hard to come back from a 20-point deficit, especially against a good team like that, but we will bounce back from this.”
Romine led the Bison with a game-high 23 points, shooting .500 (6-12) from the field and connecting on 10-of-15 free throws while also handing out five assists. Junior Audrey Dotson, who has scored in double-digits in each of Bucknell’s first nine games, contributed 13 points, while sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan led the squad on the boards with eight rebounds.
Three different Quakers scored in double-digits in the contest, led by Alyssa Baron’s 18 points. Karen Bonenberger chipped in 16 on 5-of-6 shooting and 6-of-6 from the line, while Sydney Stipanovich registered a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Quakers jumped out to a five-point lead in the first minute of the contest, using a tough zone to trip up the Bison, but consecutive three-pointers from Romine and freshman Megan McGurk turned the tide, putting Bucknell on top 8-7.
The teams began a speedy back-and-forth battle, exchanging leads, and although Bucknell tightened its defense in the paint, forcing Penn outside and silencing Bonenberger, who had eight points in the first four minutes of the contest, the two squads found themselves tied 19-19 with 8:42 to play.
While both Dotson and Romine hit a pair of free throws in the final minutes of the half, a 13-4 run by the Quakers opened up a 32-23 lead for the visitors as the teams headed into the locker rooms. Bucknell shot 27.3 (6-of-22) percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, while Penn hit 13-of-37 (.351).
The Bison struggled on both ends of the court in the opening minutes of the second half, and the Quakers quickly turned a nine-point edge into a 24-point lead. Bucknell made a push with 16:00 on the clock however, cutting the lead down to 20 when Romine and O’Bryan ended the team’s 17+ minute field goal drought.
In spite of moments of brilliance and constant defensive pressure by the Bison, the Quakers preserved a significant advantage through much of the half, leading 60-40 with just over eight minutes to play. A gutsy Bucknell team continued to battle however, allowing a crafty layup by McGurk to spark an impressive comeback attempt that fully demonstrated the team’s true colors.
With 2:51 on the clock, sophomore Sheaira Jones drained a three-pointer to slice the Quakers’ lead to 12, and the Bison ran with the momentum, holding the visitors scoreless while Romine whittled four more points off their lead.
Down by eight with 41 seconds on the clock, Dotson drew Stipanovich’s fifth foul and demonstrated her prowess on the line with two pinpoint throws, bringing her squad within six. Two misses from the line for the Quakers set the Bison up to draw even closer, but Dotson’s three-point attempt with 26.4 on the clock fell just short.
Bucknell continued to search for a way to surpass Penn, but the attempts turned into narrow misses, and the Quakers hit four from the line down the stretch to escape with the 69-61 win.
Bucknell shot 40.4 percent (19-of-47) from the field in the contest, while holding Penn to 39.1 percent (25-of-64). The Bison also held the advantage from long range and at the line, while the Quakers won the battle on the glass with a 42-32 edge.
The Bison will play their last contest before taking a break for exams on Tuesday, welcoming UMBC to Sojka Pavilion for a 7 p.m. tipoff.