EASTON, Pa. – Bucknell is all alone in first place in the Patriot League standings with two games to play following a 79-65 win at Lafayette on Wednesday night at the Kirby Sports Center. Sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus had a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds, and the Bison tied a program record with 12 3-pointers while improving to 22-5 overall and 14-2 in the conference.
Joining Slagus in double-figures in scoring were sophomore Kyi English (18), senior Claire DeBoer (16), and sophomore Kate Walker (14). The Bison went 12-for-27 from beyond the arc, led by Slagus and Walker who were both 4-of-6. English was 3-of-6 from long range and finished with a season-high point total.
“It was a solid road win for us tonight,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We moved the ball and shot it well. At times we were firing on all cylinders.”
Bucknell entered the game tied with Navy for first place in the conference. The Mids lost to American 50-48 Wednesday, giving the Bison a one-game edge. The teams play in Annapolis on Saturday. The Bison already have one win over the Mids this season.
The Bison’s four-game, 160-minute stretch of not trailing came to an end when Lafayette scored on its first possession. Bucknell responded with a layup by DeBoer and a layup and free throw for a 3-point by English, and never trailed again.
Lafayette, which dropped to 2-26 overall and 1-15 in the conference, hung tough with the conference leader in the first quarter. The Leopards were down just three, 22-19, thanks to a 3-pointer by Ashley Lutz with 15 seconds left on the clock.
Bucknell started to pull away in the second quarter, including a 7-0 run to go up 29-20 with 7:10 to play in the half. English hit a 3-pointer, while senior Sune Swart had a layup and two free throws on back-to-back possessions. Swart would finish with six points and nine rebounds.
The Bison added an 11-1 run late in the second quarter and led by as much as 17 (45-28), following a pair of free throws by junior Carly Richardson. They took a 45-32 lead into the break.
The teams played fairly even in the second half. Bucknell out-scored Lafayette 19-17 in the third quarter, while the Leopards had a 16-15 edge in the fourth.
Bucknell finished with a 45-36 advantage on the boards to out-rebound its opponent for the 26th time in 27 games this season. DeBoer and senior Megan McGurk had six rebounds apiece, while Walker added five.
DeBoer moved into third on Bucknell’s all-time scoring list with 1,586 points, passing recent Bucknell Hall-of-Famer Desire Almind. She has scored 16 or more points in each of the past five games.
Freshman Olivia Gumbs paced Lafayette with 15 points and six rebounds. Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby had 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
“We’ve been playing well as of late and probably overall fell short of that standard tonight, and credit to Lafayette for much of that,” Roussell said. “We will need to fix some things before our next game, but we’ve been practicing really well so I’m confident we will do just that over the next few days.”
Bucknell’s game at Navy on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Bison then close the regular season against Lafayette at Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday.
With a win over the Mids on Saturday, the Bison would clinch the Patriot League regular season title and the right to host the semifinal and championship rounds of the conference tournament if they win in the quarterfinal round.