AKRON, Ohio – Bucknell had four players score in double-figures for the second straight game and held Akron to 30 percent shooting in a 61-47 win Wednesday morning in a non-conference women’s basketball game at James A. Rhodes Arena. The Bison out-scored the Zips 35-19 in the second half on their way to improving to 5-2.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus registered her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while senior Sune Swart led all scorers and grabbed six boards. Sophomores Kyi English (11) and Kate Walker (10) also scored in double-digits for the second consecutive game.
It took a while for the offense to come around as Bucknell shot 25 percent in the opening quarter and 33 percent in the first half, but the defensive effort was there from start to finish. Senior Megan McGurk spearheaded the defense with her work guarding senior Hannah Plybon, who averaged 27.0 points and 4.7 3-pointers through the first three games. McGurk held Plybon to 2-of-8 shooting and just five points. The Zips’ star was coming off a 39-point performance in which she set a school record with nine treys in a win over Canisius.
Bucknell’s offense came alive in the third quarter and its defense was stifling. Akron scored to take a 32-30 lead with 7:35 to play in the quarter, but then didn’t score another point for the next 6:50 of play. The Bison, led by Swart and Slagus, went on a 12-0 run during that time. Swart scored on three consecutive shots in the paint for six points, while Slagus hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the other six.
Walker came through with a pair of dagger 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter. They came 46 seconds apart and gave the Bison a 16-point lead, 50-34, with 7:11 to play. They would extend the lead to 22 points on a free throw by sophomore Megan Mikkelsen before the Zips went on a small run at the end of the game to close the gap.
“I was really impressed with how we played in the second half today,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “Our defense was pretty good all day, but that second-half run was impressive to watch. We crowded their shooters, protected the rim, and cleaned up the glass very well.”
Swart, who had her first career double-double in last season’s WNIT First Round win at Akron, scored her 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including a deep 3-pointer in the second quarter. She broke the Bison’s record for single-season field goal percentage last year and currently leads the Patriot League with a 61 percent clip this season.
The Bison made eight 3-pointers, led by Slagus and Walker with three apiece, and have hit 18 over the past two games. Slagus is shooting 15-34 (44 percent) from beyond the arc.
“On the offensive end I thought we were much more patient in the second half and forced them to guard us inside,” Roussell said. “I think by slowing down a bit it calmed us and made our perimeter shooting much more effective.”
Bucknell had 16 assists on 20 field goals. English led the way with four, while McGurk, who matched a career-high with seven last game, chipped in with three.
Senior Claire DeBoer was 5-of-6 at the line for five points and finished with six rebounds. She has 706 boards for her career, tying Susie Hopper (1986-90) for 10th in program history.
Bucknell will go on the road for the sixth time in eight games to open the season when it plays at Rutgers on Saturday at 2 p.m. It will mark the fourth consecutive season that the Bison have played a team from the Big Ten.