COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A magnificent season for the Bucknell women's basketball team came to an end in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Friday afternoon, as third-seeded Maryland defeated the 14th-seeded Bison 103-61 at XFINITY Center.
Bucknell finishes the year at 27-6, setting a team record for wins in a season for the second straight year. The Patriot League champs were led by 14 points from Sune Swart and 12 from Megan McGurk. Seniors Swart, McGurk and Patriot League Player of the Year Claire DeBoer all played in their final career games. This trio committed to Bucknell when the team was coming off a five-win season, and they will be remembered as the catalysts of a team that returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
The Terrapins somehow slipped to a No. 3 seed despite coming into the NCAA Tournament ranked fourth in the national polls with a 30-2 record, Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, and a national-best scoring average of 89.9 points per game. They showed off their size and speed in this one, getting 28 points and five steals from All-America guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and 25 from All-America center Brionna Jones.
Bucknell scored first on a 3-pointer by McGurk, and the Bison had a few small leads at the outset, but Maryland used its transition and low-post games to make a run and take a 22-10 lead after the first quarter. It was 45-22 at the half, and the Terrapins went on to shoot 58.3 percent for the game.
“We had some periods when we played well and were able to take it to them, but they are just such a talented team, and they came at us in waves,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We cut it to 12 and had some big things working, but they made a huge run before the half that kind of buried us.”
Maryland advances to the Second Round, where it will play the winner of sixth-seeded West Virginia and 11th-seeded Elon on Sunday at XFINITY Center.
The Bison were making their third appearance in the NCAA Tournament and entered with their highest seed. They were a No. 15 seed in 2002 and a No. 16 seed in 2008. All three games were against teams from Power Five conferences – Baylor (Big 12), North Carolina (ACC), Maryland (Big Ten).
Swart’s 14 points are tied for the second most in an NCAA Tournament game in Bucknell history. Molly Creamer scored 18, and Desire Almind had 14 against Baylor in 2002.
DeBoer finished with six rebounds, five points, and three assists. She moves into ninth on the Patriot League’s all-time scoring list and is third on Bucknell’s with 1,678 points. She also leaves the program ranked third with 899 rebounds and ninth with 290 assists.
McGurk will graduate right behind DeBoer at 10th with 286 assists. Swart closes the season with a 51.6 (140-271) shooting percentage and now holds two of the top seven single-season percentages in school history.
Freshman Gia Hayes stepped up under the bright lights of the national tournament, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in 10 minutes of playing time. Junior Catherine Romaine was also solid off the bench with seven points. Sophomore Kyi English finished with six points and four assists, while sophomore Kate Walker also added six points.
The Bison were able to get decent looks from beyond the arc but finished 5-of-22 from long range. They were successful at the line, though, converting 16 of their 19 attempts.
“I was proud of the effort and fight we showed today,” Roussell said. “If the shots were falling, maybe things go differently, but nothing can take away how special this season was for this group. We are champions, and that bond will stay with us forever.
“I told the team last night at dinner that no coach out there had more fun with their team and that no coach loved their team or was more proud of them than I was. Nothing today changed any of that.”