LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell upped the nation’s third longest active home winning streak to 29 games with a 63-52 victory over visiting Akron in a non-conference women’s basketball game Sunday at Sojka Pavilion. Junior Kaitlyn Slagus posted her second double-double in as many games to open the season, and the Bison never trailed while beating the Zips for a third consecutive year.
Slagus finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds, registering the 15th double-double of her career. She and senior Catherine Romaine helped Bucknell finish with a 34-18 advantage in the paint. Romaine had a solid all-around performance with 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. The forward is averaging 3.5 assists through the first two games.
The bad news for the Bison was they turned the ball over 24 times Sunday and are averaging 26.0 turnovers through the first two games. But there is plenty of good news, too, starting with the fact that the team is 2-0 despite those errors. Also, when the team was able to get into its offense, it resulted in 16 assists on 23 field goals.
“Today showed us we have a lot to work on, but also showed this group has a high ceiling,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “At times it was about as sloppy as we’ve ever been here, but we also showed glimpses of being a high-caliber offense.”
Junior Kate Walker scored in double-figures with 12 points and added six rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Gia Hayes chipped in with a little bit of everything, tallying four points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Slagus was well on her way to a double-double in the first half with nine points and seven rebounds. She led the charge as the Bison took a 32-25 lead into the break. The halftime advantage was fueled by a 16-3 start to the game, when five Bucknell players – junior Kyi English, Slagus, Romaine, Hayes, and Walker – all scored in the first 6:57 of play.
Bucknell maintained around a seven- to 11-point lead for most of the game until Akron made a decent comeback attempt in the final quarter. The Zips trailed by 12 as late as 7:03 left in regulation, but cut the lead to five, 54-49, on a 3-pointer by Megan Sefcik with 3:22 to play. But like she did so many times in clutch situations last season, Walker answered with a 3-pointer at the other end. That was the start of a 7-0 run for the Bison that included a pair of free throws each by Hayes and Slagus.
The Bison did a nice job of limiting the damage of their turnovers at the other end. Despite committing 10 more than Akron, they scored just two less points, 14-12, than the Zips off turnovers, and gave up just four fastbreak points.
“The turnover issue was unacceptable, and the intensity needs to improve a level and be consistent,” Roussell said. “If we do that, I like the potential of this bunch.”
Freshman Abby Kapp finished with six rebounds, helping Bucknell to a 51-29 advantage on the boards. The Bison have a plus-19 rebounding margin through two games this season and have out-rebounded their opponent in 87 of their past 97 games.
“Thankfully, we defended them well in some key moments and were able to assert ourselves on the glass,” Roussell said.
Akron, which dropped to 0-1, was led by Sefcik with 19 points. The Bison held the Zips to 27 percent shooting and have held their first two opponents of the season to a combined 33 percent mark from the field.
Bucknell looks to keep the home winning streak alive when it hosts a tough Saint Joseph’s team on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Hawks, who opened the season with a 93-69 win over Niagara, were picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 this season, garnering three first-place votes