WASHINGTON, D.C. – American used an 18-0 run between the second and third quarters to pick up a 68-58 win over Bucknell in the Patriot League women’s basketball opener for both teams Friday at Bender Arena. The Bison, who played their fourth consecutive road game, dropped to 6-6 overall, while the Eagles improved to 8-4.
American took a 30-25 lead at the break after closing the half with a 6-0 run. Bucknell had an impressive 12 offensive rebounds in the first two quarters, but it resulted in just two second-chance points. The Eagles then scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to go up 42-25 before senior Catherine Romaine ended the run with a 3-pointer. Romaine’s trey ended a 7:52 scoreless drought for the Bison.
Bucknell made a solid attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter, getting as close as five, 63-58, after junior Maegan Mikkelsen hit a pair of free throws with 1:29 to play. Elina Koskimies hit a big 3-pointer at the other end to help clinch the game for the Eagles.
“We showed great heart in getting the deficit down to five late in the game, but when you dig yourself a hole that big and go about eight minutes without scoring, you force yourself to have to play perfectly,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “Their players made some big plays in big moments late to hold us at bay. Hopefully we build and learn from this and show a lot of improvement over the next few weeks.”
Junior Kate Walker paced the Bison, leading all scorers with 23 points while adding eight rebounds and two steals. She carried the Bison offensively with 12 points in a back-and-forth first half that saw nine lead changes.
After scoring 25 points through the first 24:28 of the game, Bucknell closed the contest with 33 points in the final 15:32 of play.
“I was really proud of the way we started and finished the game, but there were some stretches in between that just really hurt us,” Roussell said. “We played great offensively and hit the boards hard in the first 15 minutes, but unfortunately just didn’t make enough shots to get rewarded for it.”
The 16 offensive rebounds were the second most of the season for Bucknell, but the Bison finished with just nine second-chance points. Conversely, American turned 11 offensive boards into 16 second-chance points. Freshman Tessa Brugler stepped up and was physical under the basket, finishing with eight rebounds and six points in 12 minutes on the floor. She pulled down six offensive boards for the second time this season.
Cecily Carl led American in scoring with 16 points. Koskimies finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Bison took care of the ball much better than they did in their final non-conference game at Pitt, finishing with 12 assists and 14 turnovers. Junior Rachel Dumiak led the way with four assists. Junior Kyi English tallied nine points and two assists, while freshman Abby Kapp had seven points and two helpers.
Bender Arena has proven to be a tough place to play. American is 5-0 on its home floor this season, including an overtime win over Penn State in its previous game.
Bucknell is on the road for a fifth consecutive game when it travels to play Boston University on Tuesday at 2 p.m. The Terriers are 6-5 overall and 1-0 in the Patriot League after defeating Army West Point 60-59 on Friday.