By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- The ball rarely bounced Bucknell's way in the first half Saturday, and, even worse for the Bison, it went in the basket less often.
Bucknell shot 27 percent from the floor in the half (6 of 22) and, despite a strong second-half rally, could not overcome a 24-point deficit as they fell to Penn, 69-61 at Sojka Pavilion.
"I'm not one for moral victories, but it showed a lot of heart," senior Shelby Romine said of Bucknell's second-half comeback. "The team that was on the floor in the second half was not the team that was on the floor in the first 20 minutes."
Romine scored 17 of her game-high 23 points in the second half. Bucknell shot 52 percent after halftime.
"It was a tough offensive night," she said. "We need to work on transferring the way we practice into the game.
"We'll bounce back."
Romine was part of a pretty transition play in the first half as she took a pass down the left wing in stride from Audrey Dotson off a missed jumper and passed the ball to Micki Impellizeri for a layup to give the Bison a 16-13 lead.
"It's a group that when we are playing well, we are not drawing up stuff for somebody, we are just playing together and the ball movement is good," Bison coach Aaron Roussell said. "That didn't happen (Saturday). I thought that we were very stagnant and not very patient on offense. We were taking early, OK shots."
The Bison went on an eight-minute field goal drought after tying the game at 19 on a Romine free throw. The Bison scored four points over the final 8:42 of the half, all from the foul line.
Bucknell (4-5) trailed by nine points, 32-23, at the half. The Bison are 0-4 when trailing at halftime.
"I don't mean this to sound harsh, but it's a collective maturity," Roussell added. "I don't mean that to sound as though our kids are immature, but, I think our kids are young and inexperienced and they haven't been there before and don't know what it takes to win at this level."
Dotson continued her season-opening streak of scoring in double digits as she netted 13 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Penn (3-2) has won three in a row. Alyssa Baron was one of three Quakers in double figures with 18 points.
The Quakers closed out the first half with a 13-3 run that extended into the second half. Bucknell didn't score for four minutes until Romine hit a jumper at the 15:52 mark. By then, Penn's lead had grown to 22.
Bucknell's rally, buoyed by that 52-percent clip, managed to cut the lead to six points, 65-59, with 41 seconds remaining in the game.
However, as was the case for much of the contest with layups missed and balls rimming out, Romine missed two open layups and Dotson was short on a 3-pointer that could have cut the lead to two.
"This is good identity building that is going on right now," Roussell added. "Unfortunately, you are trying to learn from negative things that are happening instead of building on success."
Bucknell wraps up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. tip against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.