LEWISBURG, Pa. – Kaitlyn Slagus recorded her eighth double-double of the season and the 21st of her career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Kyi English posted 10 points and Ellie Mack added 10 off the bench to pace the Bucknell women’s basketball team in a 72-63 victory over Holy Cross Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Bison, who improved to 18-8 overall and 12-3 in the Patriot League. Holy Cross fell to 10-16, 5-10 PL.
Bucknell led by as many as 35 points in the second half before the Crusaders put together a strong fourth quarter, tallying 30 points in the stanza. The Bison led 44-17 at halftime and still led by 24 heading into the final quarter.
The 35-point lead came midway through the third quarter after Catherine Romaine scored on back-to-back possessions. She put Bucknell up 53-19 after jumping a passing lane for a steal and taking it all the way for a layup. Then, following a free throw by Holy Cross, she gave the Bison a 55-20 lead on a layup following a nice pass from Maegan Mikkelsen.
The Bison showed up to play today! They take a 53-19 lead over Holy Cross midway through the 3Q after this steal and layup by Catherine Romaine. #rayBucknell @PatriotLeagueTV pic.twitter.com/X31zCTqCI6— Bucknell WBB (@Bucknell_WBB) February 17, 2018
"It almost felt like two different games," Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. "You worry about how you're going to come out in the second half, and I thought our players knocked it out of the park. Unfortunately, after that timeout in the middle of the third quarter things changed a little bit. That's something that to a certain extent we will have to go back to the drawing board. But, at the same time, we built a 35-point lead, and that happens for a reason."
Bucknell forced 20 Holy Cross turnovers and converted them into 29 points thanks to 15 steals. Ten different Bison players recorded at least one steal, led by three from Romaine. The Crusaders were held to 22 percent shooting in the first half. Romaine, Slagus, and MK Moore made it difficult to score inside, finishing with two blocks apiece.
The Bison also had 10 players score in the game. Romaine had eight points, Abby Kapp tallied seven, and Kate Walker and Autumn Ceppi contributed six and five, respectively. The team shot 45 percent for the game, including a 59 percent mark in the first half.
Infiniti Thomas-Waheed led the Crusaders with 22 points, while Megan Swords recorded 15 off the bench.
Saturday's game was the annual Play4Kay game for Bucknell, and Roussell pledged $5 for every Bison rebound in the game. They finished with a 36-34 advantage on the boards. Additionally, Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons, who needs just one win for an impressive 600 during his career, said he will match Roussell's donation.
Bucknell is unbeaten since falling to Loyola 68-65 exactly one month ago on Feb. 17. Since that time, the Bison have registered wins over Holy Cross (twice), Navy, Boston University, Lafayette, Lehigh, Colgate, and Loyola. No league team has beaten them in consecutive games since American in 2015.
"You take a look back a month ago and how we felt after that Loyola game, and we are a completely different team from then," Roussell said. "We knew what the back end of our scheduled looked like with Navy, American, and Army, and as a coach you just want to make sure that when you get to that point that those games are meaningful and you're playing for something. For us to be in the position we are in with a young team and after what we lost to graduation last year is outstanding."
Bucknell has ensured itself a top three spot in the Patriot League Tournament and now has a pivotal league game at Navy on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The result will go a long way toward determining who gets the second seed and who gets the third, as the teams entered Saturday's games tied in the standings.