Bucknell Women's Basketball Advances to PL Championship Game with 60-52 Victory Over Top-Seeded American
March 9, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Joyce Novacek posted her second double-double of the season with a career-high 18 points and a career high-tying 13 rebounds to lead the fifth-seeded Bucknell women's basketball team to a 60-52 victory over top-seeded American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament Sunday afternoon at Christl Arena. The victory advanced the Bison to their first Patriot League championship game since 2002.
Bucknell's victory was its third in a row and halted the Eagles' 11-game winning streak. Bucknell (15-15), which is the first No. 5 seed to advance to the championship game since 1997, will play the winner of Sunday night's other semifinal contest between second-seeded Holy Cross and third seed Lehigh.
Novacek dominated the second half, tallying 13 of her game-high point total after halftime. She was one of three Bucknell players in double figures with Lauren Schober adding 14 and Kesha Champion registering 11. Champion will enter Wednesday's championship game with 995 career points as she vies to become the 17th Bison with 1,000 career points.
Novacek was key for the Bison, who stretched an 11-point halftime cushion into a 36-18 advantage early in the second half. She ended up scoring 13 of Bucknell's first 18 points in the stanza on a variety of layups in traffic. She converted 8 of 12 field goals in the contest.
Two free throws by Cosima Higham with just over five minutes to play put Bucknell up 49-35 and American (19-12) did not get closer than nine until the final minute following a series of fouls.
The Bison played stellar defense throughout the game, holding American to 24.3 percent shooting and that was with the Eagles converting four of their final five field goals in the waning minutes. It was the second consecutive opponent to shoot less than 30 percent against the Bison. Bucknell shot 37.9 percent, including 40 percent in the second half.
In the first half, the Eagles failed to net a field goal for more than eight minutes as the Bison opened up a lead of 24-10 after an 8-1 run that spanned more than five minutes. American missed 10 consecutive field goals at one point.
Keyed by a pair of early 3-pointers from Schober, who rebounded from an 0-for-8 performance in Saturday's quarterfinal win over Army, Bucknell shot 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Champion from the left wing just beat the first-half buzzer to give Bucknell a 29-18 halftime advantage. The 3-pointer halted a mini 4-0 American spurt as the Eagles had gained momentum near the end of the half.
Hope Foster, who spent significant time on the bench in the second half with Novacek and Higham playing so well, finished with six points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Higham totaled three points and five rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. Those three Bison post players combined for 27 points and 27 of Bucknell's 44 rebounds.
Talicia Jackson posted a double-double for the Eagles, who had three players post double-figure rebounding totals. Jackson finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Maggie Smith-Davidson had a team-high 12 boards and Stephanie N'Garsanet corralled 11. However, N'Garsanet was just 1 of 13 from the field.
Bucknell's victory evened its record at .500 for the first time this season, while it is on its first three-game winning streak of the year.