By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- After letting a 16-point halftime lead slip away and dropping their fifth straight game Saturday against Lafayette, the Bucknell women's basketball team faced what coach Aaron Roussell termed a pride and character check against Lehigh on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion.
"I thought we did some nice things on Saturday and we had gotten past (our confidence issues)," Roussell said. "We did some things in the second half that put us in a tough spot, but we did enough that we thought we had turned the corner a little bit."
However, the Bison struggled through a horrid first half against the Mountain Hawks, starting the game 1-of-20 from the floor and making just three first-half field goals.
Though Bucknell made a run at Lehigh in the second half, its first-half struggles proved too much to overcome as the Mountain Hawks sent the Bison to their sixth consecutive loss, 49-37.
"I'll be honest with you; I didn't see that first half coming. If it was we just weren't hitting shots, it would be one thing, but I think our energy wasn't there," Roussell said. "It's the biggest thing you don't want to say as a coach, but our effort was lacking in the first half."
The numbers from the first half were horror-movie scary for Bucknell, and Lehigh wasn't much better, shooting just 6-of-32. There were 58 missed shots in the first half. Lehigh's freshman forward Kerry Kinek had 15 first-half rebounds.
The one positive from the first half is that the Bison (13-13 overall, 4-7 PL) trailed by just 10 points at 18-8.
"As a coach, it's all you are begging to do (is to get to halftime)," Roussell said. "It's almost funny, but we were in the game. I told the team if this is 38-28 with the way we played in the first half, we're thrilled right now."
Bucknell trailed by 11 with 17:01 left in the game when point guard Shelby Romine scored 12 consecutive Bison points -- three 3-pointers and a traditional three-point play. Her 12-2 run pulled Bucknell to 28-27 with 13:48 left.
"We hung around and I think that is a credit to our kids. We made a nice run to start the second half, and then we got comfortable again," Roussell said. "We made this a game again, and then relaxed."
The Bison remained within six points of the Mountain Hawks in the second half, but couldn't get over the hump.
The main culprit was the Lehigh's offensive rebounding. The Mountain Hawks seemed to come up with the offensive board whenever they most needed it, including an offensive board by guard Marybeth Egan on a missed foul shot; Egan wasn't even on the lane for the shot.
"It was night that was supposed to be a pride check and a character check ... to let some of those things happen, was disappointing as a coach," Roussell said. "That's not pointing the finger at anybody; it's on all of us. I feel we're at the point in the season where we have to coach effort and that's not where you want to be in February."
Romine led the way for Bucknell with 20 points, while Audrey Dotson chipped in 12. Lindsey Horbatuck added five points and 12 boards. Those were the only three players for Bucknell to score. Four of five Bucknell starters played more than 30 minutes, while the fifth played 29. The Bison bench played just 30 total minutes in the game.
"I think it's one of those things, you so badly want to go elsewhere, but unfortunately whether its practice or games, we knew we needed to score. There aren't a whole lot of people that can provide that for us, unfortunately," Roussell said. "We had only three girls score and two of them had 80 percent of our points. That's not how I want to coach. That's not how our offense is run."
Kinek, out of Allentown Central Catholic, finished with 11 points and a Lehigh- and Patriot League-record 22 rebounds. Katie O'Reilly added 10 points.