LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals to lead Bucknell to a 77-66 win over visiting Cleveland State in a non-conference women’s basketball game Sunday at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison improved to 7-3 overall and tied a program record with their 15 straight win at home.
Slagus led a group of four Bucknell players with double-digit points. Senior Claire DeBoer scored 15 of her team-high 19 in the second half, while sophomore Kate Walker poured in 15 and Sune Swart tallied 10. Swart added seven rebounds.
Playing without starting point guard Kyi English due to illness, and without starting guard Megan McGurk in the second half, Bucknell received a huge boost from freshman Gia Hayes. The rookie scored all eight of her points in the first half, hitting two of her four attempts from long range, and added two assists and three rebounds while playing a career-high 26 minutes.
"Gia has been fantastic in practice," Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. "She was really good on both ends of the floor. I don't know where we would have been without her stepping up today."
Walker also helped the Bison overcome the shortage in guards, hitting three of the team’s seven 3-pointers. In all, nine players scored, including freshman MK Moore with her first two career points, and junior Carly Richardson with her first two points of the season after missing her entire sophomore campaign with an injury. Despite playing just 12 minutes, McGurk recorded five assists.
Bucknell overcame an outstanding performance in a losing effort by Cleveland State’s Ashanti Abshaw, who led all players with 28 points on 11-23 shooting. Jade Ely came off the bench and contributed 11 points. The Vikings dropped to 4-6 and lost to the Bison for the second straight season.
Slagus had her fifth double-double of the season wrapped up in the first half, tallying 11 points and 10 rebounds while helping the Bison take a 43-35 lead into the break. The team was 16-33 for 49 percent shooting through the first two quarters.
Cleveland State scored the first five points of the second half to cut the lead to three, 43-40, early in the third quarter, but DeBoer, the Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, took over from there. She scored Bucknell’s next nine points to help it take a 52-42 lead with 2:29 left in the quarter.
The Vikings would get as close as nine, 60-51, with 6:57 to play in the fourth quarter. The Bison responded with an 11-0 run to put the game away with a 71-51 lead. Slagus scored six points during the run, Walker drained a 3-pointer, and DeBoer capped it with a jumper.
Bucknell turned the ball over just three times and finished with 12 in the game, while forcing 23 by Cleveland State. The Bison showed off some of their best ball movement of the season, recording assists on 16 of their first 19 field goals and on 19 of 27 for the game.
DeBoer moved in to 11th on Bucknell’s all-time scoring list with 1,292 career points, passing former teammate Audrey Dotson (2011-15). She needs 19 points to pass Marie Kocornik (1984-88) for 10th.
Bucknell will close the non-conference portion of its schedule with a home game against Manhattan at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Sojka Pavilion. The Jaspers are 4-5 after a 63-60 loss to Fordham in their most recent game. They have played on game against the Patriot League this season, posting a 60-56 win over Holy Cross.
The Bison will look for their 16th straight win at home, which would break the previous record of 15 set in Davis Gym during the 1994-95, 95-96, and 96-97 seasons.
"We take a lot of pride in winning on our home court," Rousell said. "We don't set a lot of goals but we do talk about wanting to play well and go undefeated at home. Fortunately we've been able to do that."
After playing seven of the first nine games on the road this season, Sunday started a stretch of five out of six games at Sojka Pavilion.