Bucknell Women's Basketball Postseason Run Stopped by North Carolina, 85-50, in NCAA Tournament First Round
March 23, 2008
NORFOLK, Va. - Playing the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament for the second time in program history, Bucknell ran into one of the nation's best teams in the first round and fell 85-50 to top-seeded North Carolina. The Tar Heels, ranked No. 2 nationally in both major polls, had five players score in double figures to begin its quest for a third straight Final Four appearance.
Lauren Schober led the Bison with 13 points, while Kesha Champion and Kristina Collymore had eight each. LaToya Pringle led the Tar Heels with 19, while Erlana Larkins and Rashana McCants tallied 15 apiece. Jessica Breland had 14 off the bench, and Cetera DeGraffenreid added 10 points.
North Carolina held the Bison to 26.7 percent shooting from the field and forced 19 turnovers. The Tar Heels blocked nine shots, including five by Pringle.
Despite the one-sided margin, the Patriot League champs held their own in certain stretches. The Bison had a 12-4 run in the first half and ended the game on an 11-4 run. They blocked six shots of their own, forced 20 turnovers and tied a season high with 21 offensive rebounds.
UNC outrebounded Bucknell 54-41. Hope Foster led the Bison with eight boards and became the school's all-time leading rebounder in the process.
North Carolina scored the first 16 and 21 of the first 23 points of the game. The trio of Pringle, Larkins and McCants combined for 17 of UNC's first 21 points.
Amanda Brown put the Bison on the board for the first time with a put-back at the 14:45 mark, and about eight minutes in Bucknell began to find its offensive rhythm. Joyce Novacek and Foster made back-to-back baskets, and Schober answered a DeGraffenreid 3-pointer with Bucknell's first trey of the day.
Trailing 31-11 with 8:30 left in the half, Schober hit another left-wing 3-pointer, igniting a 12-4 Bison run. Collymore hit a short jumper, Schober had a baseline jumper and two free throws, and Champion drove to the basket for a 3-point play.
Trailing 35-23 with the ball and a chance to get the deficit back to 10 or less, Bucknell's turned the ball over on five of its next six possessions, leading to a 9-0 Tar Heels run. DeGraffenreid's steal and dish to McCants on a fastbreak started the run, and by the time McCants scored again on put-back with 3:31 left in the half UNC had its largest lead at 44-23.
Novacek's offensive rebound and layup with 2:46 remaining accounted for Bucknell's only points in the last 5:44 of the half, and North Carolina took a 48-25 lead into the locker room.
The Tar Heels tallied 10 of the first 14 second half points, eight coming from Larkins and Pringle, and they led by at least 26 the rest of the way.
Bucknell finished the season with a 16-16 record, while North Carolina improved to 31-2. The Tar Heels will play the winner of Georgia and Iowa in the second round.
Five Bison seniors played in their final career games, and two of them broke Bucknell records. Foster, already Bucknell's all-time best shot-blocker, also became the school's No. 1 rebounder. With eight boards in the game Foster finished her career with 904, surpassing Vicki Quimby for the top spot in Bucknell history. She also ranks seventh on the Patriot League career rebounding chart.
Foster was credited with one blocked shot against North Carolina, giving her 344 for her career. That is No. 1 in Bucknell and Patriot League annals, and it moved her into a tie for 17th on the NCAA all-time list.
Champion, the Patriot League Tournament MVP, broke the school record for minutes played in a season, finishing with 1,159. Molly Creamer held the previous mark with 1,143.
The Bison, who won 57-45 on Holy Cross' home floor in the Patriot League championship game 11 days ago, last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2002. That year the Creamer-led Bison earned a No. 15 seed and lost at Baylor 80-56.