ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Senior forward Claire DeBoer scored a game-high 17 points to lead Bucknell to a 57-35 win over St. Bonaventure in a non-conference women’s basketball game Tuesday night at the Reilly Center. The Bison, who played their fifth straight game against an opponent that qualified for a national postseason tournament last year, improved to 6-3 overall, including a 4-3 mark on the road.
St. Bonaventure, which was coming off three straight wins, dropped to 4-4 overall. The Bonnies advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
DeBoer added seven rebounds while also leading the team’s balanced scoring attack. Eight players scored for the Bison, including nine points apiece by sophomores Kaitlyn Slagus and Kyi English. Sophomore Kate Walker contributed seven, while freshman Gia Hayes tallied a career-high five points.
“DeBoer was outstanding both at the basket and on the perimeter tonight, which really opened things up,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said.
One game after losing the rebounding battle for the first time all season, Bucknell returned to its usual dominance on the boards, finishing with a 43-29 advantage. The rebounding was also a team effort as DeBoer, Slagus, and senior Sune Swart all finished with seven. More importantly, the team’s guards upped their effort on the boards, with senior Megan McGurk grabbing five and English and Walker finishing with four apiece.
Six players scored in the first half to help the Bison take a 23-16 lead. DeBoer led the way with eight, four of which came at the foul line. Walker hit both of her of her shot attempts, including a 3-pointer, for five points.
Bucknell took its first double-digit lead, 17-7, on a Hayes 3-pointer, the first of the freshman’s career. The Bison took their largest lead of the half, 21-10, on a jumper by DeBoer with 3:57 showing on the clock.
The Bison led 39-29 after three quarters and really started to open things up in the fourth. They opened the final quarter on a 7-0 run with all seven points being scored by DeBoer. Following a bucket by the Bonnies, English hit her third 3-pointer and Hayes nailed a jumper to put the Bison up 51-31.
St. Bonaventure entered the game as the top defensive team in the Atlantic 10, allowing 54.0 points per game. In their previous game, a 51-37 win over Stony Brook, the Bonnies didn’t allow a single point in the first quarter and gave up just 12 in the entire first half.
“This is a tough place to play and the way they defend puts pressure on you to make shots,” Roussell said. “I was proud of the way we continued to shoot it even after we struggled early.”
After shooting just 15 percent (2-13) on 3-point attempts in the first half, Bucknell shot 50 percent (6-12) in the second half. Walker made her only attempt from long range and is 10-for-14 over the past four games.
“We rode our defense early when we were struggling to make shots and thankfully we eventually hit from beyond the arc to give ourselves some breathing room,” Roussell said.
The 35 points were the least allowed by the Bison in a game since a 52-35 win over NJIT on Jan. 8, 2013. They held the Bonnies to 26 percent shooting.
After playing seven of their first nine games on the road, the Bison will have a much-needed break before resuming play with a game against Cleveland State on Sunday, Dec. 18, at Sojka Pavilion.