LEWISBURG, Pa. - Claire DeBoer scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Bucknell women's basketball team to a 79-71 overtime victory over Navy in the Patriot League Championship on Sunday at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison outscored the Mids 12-4 in overtime to claim their third Patriot League Tournament title, and first since 2008.
DeBoer, who came one point shy of the record for points in a championship game, was named tournament MVP. Sune Swart was also named to the All-Tournament Team, and she totaled 15 points, six rebounds and five blocks in the contest. Kate Walker was also in double figures with 14 points off the bench for the top-seeded Bison. They improved to 27-5 overall with a 10th consecutive win.
Second-seeded Navy which shot 14-for-28 from 3-point range, including 8-for-11 in the first half, was led by 16 points from Sarita Condie, another member of the All-Tournament Team. Taylor Dunham added 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Mids.
Bucknell earned the Patriot League's automatic NCAA Tournament berth. The bracket will be announced Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Navy, which dropped to 23-9, will represent the conference in the WNIT.
“Right now I think it’s all about enjoying this,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. I am very much indebted to the three seniors. They committed to a program that was 5-25 and they came here because they wanted to win. From day one they have made an impact on this program. A lot of players came through here before this that helped build this, too. They should feel like they are a big part of this, too.”
Walker scored six of her 14 points for the game in overtime, including the first basket of the extra period to put Bucknell up for good. DeBoer made it a 5-0 run to start overtime with a 3-pointer, and Walker countered a pair of buckets by Navy to keep the Bison up five. The Mids were held to 1-of-7 shooting.
“The best defense we played all night was in those five minutes of overtime,” Roussell said.
Bucknell led 67-64 in regulation after two free throws by Kaitlyn Slagus, but Navy forced overtime with a 3-pointer by Ashanti Kennedy with 7.5 seconds remaining on the clock. The Mids had advanced to the championship game thanks to a 3-pointer by Condie with 0.5 seconds left in regulation of a 54-53 win over Army West Point in the semifinal round. That game was also at Sojka Pavilion.
It wasn’t surprising that the game went to overtime after the teams battled neck-and-neck through four quarters of play. Navy jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and led by as much as 11 in the first quarter. With the Bison trailing 10-2, Walker entered the game for the first time and came through with a steal just five seconds later that led to a layup by Kyi English at the other end. The Bison had just two points in the first 4:05 without Walker on the floor, and scored 27 in the next 11:44 with her on the court.
The game featured nine ties and seven lead changes. Bucknell took its first lead, 22-19 on a layup and free throw by Swart, but that lasted all of 24 seconds before Kaila Clark tied it with a 3-pointer. Hannah Fenske added two deep 3-pointers in the quarter to help Navy take a 37-33 lead into the break.
DeBoer took over for Bucknell in the third quarter, scoring 11 points. She showed her offensive versatility, hitting a mid-range jumper, a 3-pointer, four free throws, and finally a layup that put the Bison up 54-50 with 21 seconds left on the clock.
DeBoer scored five points in the first 58 seconds of the fourth quarter to give her team a 59-52 lead, but Navy countered with a 10-1 run to go up 62-60. Still trailing by one, 64-63, Bucknell, the top free throw shooting team in the Patriot League, hit five of six attempts from the line to take a 67-64 advantage. Swart had two huge blocks on the defensive end during that stretch, but the Mids were finally able to tie the game with Kennedy’s clutch 3-pointer.
“She was locked in,” Roussell said of DeBoer. “We ran a lot of stuff for her and you could tell she was probably a little winded, but to go for 30 and 10 in such a big moment, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Swart added another one of her five blocks during overtime. Slagus had two blocks for the game and registered a solid all-around performance with nine points and five assists. McGurk finished with six points, five rebounds, and four assists, while English tallied five points, five rebounds, and three steals.
DeBoer averaged 19.0 points and 8.7 rebounds over three games in the tournament, wins over eighth-seeded Loyola, fourth-seeded American, and second-seeded Navy. Swart averaged 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks.
• Sunday’s game was just the second Patriot League final to go to overtime.
• Bucknell won at Sojka Pavilion for the 28th straight game. That is the second-longest active streak in the nation behind UConn.
• Bucknell is the first school to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams win the Patriot League titles in the same year since Lehigh in 2010.
• Claire DeBoer moved into 10th on the Patriot League’s all-time scoring list with 1.673 career points.
• The Bison have 209 3-pointers this season, breaking the program’s single-season record for the fourth consecutive year.
• Aaron Roussell is the second Bucknell women's basketball head coach to win a Patriot League title.
• The championship game was played in front of more than 1,200 fans and was broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
• Including last year’s trip to the WNIT, Bucknell has made a national postseason tournament in consecutive seasons for the second time in program history.
• Bucknell finished 16-0 at Sojka Pavilion this season. Only eight out of 349 Division I teams have a perfect record at home this year.