VESTAL, N.Y. – Senior Sune Swart scored 19 of her career-high 25 points in the first half, and sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus registered her second career double-double to lead Bucknell to a 67-57 win at Binghamton in a non-conference women’s basketball game Friday night. The Bison improved to 1-0, winning their third consecutive season opener.
“I’m proud of this group for delivering in a tough environment against a scrappy team,” said Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “I thought Binghamton played hard and presented some real matchup problems for us.”
Bucknell did most of its damage inside, outscoring Binghamton 40-12 in the paint and 23-7 in second-chance points. The Bearcats were no match for Swart’s athleticism, and she took advantage with easy layups throughout the game. Slagus had a huge double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds, while senior Claire DeBoer just missed a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“We struggled from the perimeter but were able to ride our advantage in the post tonight,” Roussell said. “On Sunday at Saint Joseph’s it could be the opposite. That’s the great part of having the weapons that we do.”
Swart eclipsed her previous career-high of 18 points with 19 in the first half alone. She came off the bench with 5:52 left on the clock and hit a 3-pointer with 4:26 remaining. She would go on to score nine straight points for Bucknell in 1:54 of game time, helping the Bison take an 18-15 lead.
The three forwards combined for every Bucknell point as it took a 40-36 lead into the half. Swart’s total came on 9-of-12 shooting, while Slagus, the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year, added 13, and DeBoer, the Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, tallied eight.
The trio did their job to outshine a phenomenal first-half individual effort by Imani Watkins. She went into the break with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including a 5-of-11 mark from beyond the arc. The Second Team All-America East selection from last season went on to lead all players with 26 points
Bucknell’s guards started to find their rhythm in the second half. Sophomore Kate Walker finished with seven points, sophomore Kyi English dished out four assists, and sophomore Rachel Dumiak hit a big 3-pointer that put the Bison up 46-41 early in the third quarter.
The Bison took the lead for good midway through the second quarter but also struggled to distance themselves from a much-improved Binghamton team. Finally, with a 52-48 lead and less nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, DeBoer drove to the hoop for a bucket and went to the line for the 3-point play. She missed the free throw, but Swart was there for the rebound and kicked it out to English for a 3-pointer and a 57-48 lead.
The dominant performance inside came against a solid Binghamton defense. The Bearcats have the reigning America East Defensive Player of the Year in Alyssa James and allowed just 58.2 points per game last season.
When Binghamton did come up with a stop, Bucknell was there to get the offensive rebound. The Bison finished with 16 offensive boards, including seven by Slagus. They finished with a 49-32 advantage on the boards, out-rebounding their opponent for the 58th time in the past 64 games.
Bucknell is back on the road for its next game as it travels to play Saint Joseph’s on Sunday. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Michael J. Hagan Arena.