WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Bucknell women’s basketball team continues to give the best competition in the Patriot League all that it can handle, but it wasn’t quite enough on Saturday afternoon, as the squad completed its tour of the service academics with a 75-63 loss to Army at Christl Arena. Four Bison scored in double-digits in the contest, a testament to the increasing depth of the offense, but the team fell to 13-11 overall and 8-6 in the Patriot League with the defeat. The Black Knights improved to 18-6 overall and 10-3 in conference action with the victory.
Junior Audrey Dotson led the Bison in scoring against the Black Knights, registering her ninth 20+ point outing of the season with 20 points scored on 7-of-12 (.583) shooting from the field and 6-of-7 (.857) made shots from the line. The forward also contributed six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Freshman Megan McGurk chipped in 12 points, scoring in double-digits for the fifth time in the last six games, while sophomore Claire Maree O'Bryan recorded a 10-point effort. Senior Shelby Romine was the fourth Bison to surpass the 10 point mark, tossing in 11 to go with her six rebounds and team-high five assists.
Army’s Kelsey Minato, fresh off a 49-point outing against Holy Cross on Wednesday, led all scorers in the contest with 29 points, hitting 9-of-16 (.563) from the field and 10-of-12 from the line (.833). Aimee Oertner scored 13 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, while Krishawn Tillett was the third Black Knight to score in double-digits, recording 10 points.
There were echoes of January in the opening stanza, with both sides hitting difficult shots and each squad’s defense working overtime to limit the opportunities in an impossibly close match-up. Dotson put the Bison on the board first and kept the points coming, shooting 5-for-6 (.833) to score 11 points in the first half, but the Black Knights continued to come up with answers, resulting in six ties in the first ten minutes of action.
With the score knotted 17-17 and 10:03 on the clock, Army produced nine unanswered points, pushing out to a 26-17 lead, but McGurk drained a three from the top of the key to reignite Bucknell. Both teams struggled with fouls as time ticked down, and after a jumper by freshman Claire DeBoer at 5:48 that brought her squad within six, all of the Bison’s points came from the free throw line.
Romine hit both parts of a one-and-one to cut the Black Knights’ advantage down to three, but the home team responded with four quick points, building its lead right back up. The Bucknell defense held Army without a field goal for the last four minutes of the half, but Minato hit all four of her free throw attempts down the stretch, and the Bison found themselves at a 36-27 disadvantage at the break.
Both teams shot well in the first 20 minutes of action, with Bucknell sinking 10-of-22 (.455) and Army hitting 13-of-26 (.500), but the Black Knights held a 15-14 advantage on the boards, grabbing nine second chance points to the Bison’s one tally.
Bucknell got a jump on the second half, as Romine converted two three-point plays in the opening minutes to bring the Bison within three. A bit of a scoring lull set in from there however, and the Black Knights opened up a 16-point advantage on the strength of a 15-2 run that spanned five minutes.
There was still a lot of basketball left to be played however, and Bucknell responded with a trademark late surge that turned the contest into a two-point game. Dotson hit a jumper through traffic to spark the 16-2 run, while back-to-back three-pointers from McGurk and O’Bryan drew the Bison within four. Romine concluded the streak, during which Bucknell held Army without a field goal for over five minutes, with expert pinpoint shooting, hitting two from the line to narrow the Black Knights’ lead to two with 9:16 on the clock.
The game remained close for the next few minutes, with the Bison fighting to get themselves back on top, but a crucial three-pointer by Jen Hazlett build Army’s lead back up to ten with 5:45 to play. Bucknell worked it back down to nine when Dotson capitalized on a well-executed feed from O’Bryan, and McGurk sealed the contest with a crafty layup, but the Black Knights walked away with the 75-63 victory.
Bucknell shot 41.7 percent in the contest, hitting 20 of its 48 opportunities, while Army finished at 50 percent (26-of-52) shooting, including 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from long-range. The Black Knights also held a significant advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Bison 35-26.
Bucknell, which has an 8-2 record at home this season, returns to Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday, Feb. 19, for a 7 p.m. contest with Loyola. The Greyhounds suffered a 74-55 defeat at Boston University on Saturday afternoon, dropping their overall record to 5-20 and their conference mark to 2-12. The Bison earned a 67-60 win when the two squads met in January, due in large part to a 28-point effort by Dotson. Wednesday’s game, and all of Bucknell’s home contests, will be video streamed by Bison Vision and available free of charge on the Patriot League Network.