WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team kicked off the New Year with its Patriot League season opener on Thursday night, falling 77-40 to American in Bender Arena. The Bison drop to 5-6 and 0-1 in the conference with the loss, while the Eagles improve to 8-4 and 1-0 in league action with the win.

Freshman Claire DeBoer led the Bison in both scoring and rebounding in her Patriot League debut, contributing nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The forward collected seven boards on both ends of the court to register the strongest defensive outing of her young career. Junior Katherine Harris had a season-high six points, sinking 2-of-4 three-pointers, and senior Shelby Romine pulled down six rebounds.

American was buoyed by solid production from its entire line-up, as 39 of the team’s points came from the bench. Lauren Crisler led the way with 12 points, while Arron Zimmerman and Shaquilla Curtis contributed 11 and 10, respectively. The Bison were able to hold Alexis Dobbs, the Eagles’ top scorer, to nine points in the contest.

While the home team jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of the contest, a DeBoer layup at 16:45 sparked the Bison, and the squads proceeded to battle for control for the next several minutes. Sophomore Sheaira Jones sunk a jumper to bring Bucknell within one, and while American scored the next four points, freshman Megan McGurk exhibited her prowess from long-range, hitting a three to narrow the score to 12-10 at just over five minutes into the game.

The first media timeout of the contest shifted the momentum in the Eagles’ favor however, as American used aggressive physical play to go on an 18-1 run, opening up a 30-11 advantage with 4:48 on the clock.

The young Bison squad found a way to battle back in the final minutes of the half, as freshman Sune Swart sunk two from the line and Romine converted a four-point play, narrowing the Eagles’ edge to 16. American answered with a layup, but freshman Alex Henning hit a jumper through traffic just before halftime, keeping the Eagles advantage to 35-19.

American continued to build on its lead at the start of the second, scoring the first six points, but the Bison made the Eagles work for each basket, tightening up their defense and forcing the home team into mistakes, while increasingly capitalizing on their own offensive opportunities.

The gutsy plays and impressive shows of fortitude down the stretch were not enough however, as American shot 65.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes of action to solidify its 77-40 win in the first conference game of the season for both squads.

Bucknell hit 20.3 percent (12-of-59) of its shots in the contest, struggling from the field, while American combined to shoot 52.5 percent (32-of-61). Both teams were 80 percent from the line, and the Eagles held a slight 40-39 edge on the glass.

The Bison return to the hardwood on Sunday, Jan. 5, travelling to Hamilton, N.Y. for a 2 p.m. contest with the Colgate Raiders. The game, and all of this season’s conference match-ups, will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.