ELON, N.C. -- Bucknell led by as much as 13 in the second half, but Elon rallied for a 64-58 win in a non-conference women’s basketball game Tuesday night at Alumni Gym. Sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus recorded her third double-double in five games, tallying 20 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.
Bucknell dropped to 3-2 on the season with both losses coming on its two-game trip to North Carolina. Elon, which has wins over Rutgers and Central Michigan, improved to 4-1.
"Obviously, this was a tough loss for us tonight," Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said." We did some nice things to build a lead. Our defense and rebounding were enough early, and when we started to get some buckets things were going well."
The Bison took a 37-24 lead on a pair of free throws by senior Sune Swart with nine minutes to play in the third quarter. Elon responded by out-scoring the Bison 20-4 over the final 7:40 of the quarter to take a 44-41 lead. The Phoenix were aided by a controversial technical foul call for an illegal substitution that resulted in a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left on the clock.
"The third quarter was just disastrous for us," Roussell said. "We got in some foul trouble and then didn't score or rebound for an incredibly long time. We need to find a way to avoid those stretches moving forward."
Elon upped its lead to nine, 54-45, with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter. Bucknell battled back to cut the deficit to two, 56-54, on a pair of free throws by sophomore Kyi English with 4:04 to play, but the Phoenix closed the game with an 8-4 advantage to seal the win.
Slagus entered the game averaging a double-double of 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds. Her 20 points came on 6-of-12 shooting, including a 3-of-7 mark from beyond the arc, and a 5-of-6 clip from the foul line.
Foul shooting nearly fueled Bucknell to the win. The Bison shot 20-of-25 from the stripe, including a perfect 4-for-4 mark from senior Claire DeBoer. Senior Megan McGurk and sophomore Rachel Dumiak were each 2-for-2, while Swart was 5-for-7.
English and DeBoer joined Slagus in double-figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Swart finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
Malaya Johnson paced Elon with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting. She led the charge as the Phoenix finished with a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint. They also held an 18-6 edge in points off turnovers, forcing 18 miscues by the Bison.
Bucknell out-rebounded its opponent for the 62nd time in 68 games, finishing with a 42-36 difference on the boards. But for the second straight game the opponent had a double-digit advantage in shot attempts. The Phoenix took 61 shots, shooting 41 percent, while the Bison shot 32 percent on 50 shots.
Bucknell took a 32-22 lead into the half behind 12 points and six rebounds from Slagus. DeBoer and English had seven points apiece, while junior Catherine Romaine had a big putback after a missed free throw in the closing seconds.
The Bison will play a CAA opponent for the second straight game when they host Drexel on Sunday. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion.