---- — By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- The Bucknell women's basketball team improved by 10 games under first-year coach Aaron Roussell.
It was the biggest turnaround in program history, and Roussell set the victory record for a first-year coach.
The Bison made their living on the defensive end of the floor. Bucknell finished first in the Patriot League and 15th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.345) and 35th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.271). Bucknell led the Patriot League in rebounds per game and rebounding margin.
That leads to the biggest loss to graduation for the Bison coming into Roussell's second season. Top-rebounder Lindsay Horbatuck left as the program's sixth all-time rebounder with 805, averaging 10.5 rebounds last year as she finished with 325 (the second-highest in program history). Hortbatuck signed to play professionally in Bulgaria.
There was a reason for all of those rebounds as the Bison's biggest problems last season came on the offensive end. Shelby Romine, last year's leading scorer, was the squad biggest threat from behind the 3-point arc plus had to adjust to playing point guard after serving as shooting guard most of her career. Romine averaged nearly 37 minutes per game, averaging 13.3 points and a team-high 47 three-pointers, 20 more than second place Katherine Harris.
Romine should be able to play less at the point this season, getting help from two players that were forced to miss last season along with Harris, who started 15 games. Tara Wilk has missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries, while Claire Maree O'Bryan was forced sit out last season due to NCAA international student rules. O'Bryan is from Australia.
Sophomore Shearia Jones also returns in the backcourt for the Bison. Jones made 11 starts and played in 16 games last year before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. Jones scored 10 points in her season debut last year against Xavier and has played in all seven games this year, starting four.
Joining Romine as a captain this season is junior Audrey Dotson. Dotson was second on the squad in scoring last season and grown into a leadership role. Dotson averaged 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season, but has upped those numbers in the early part of the season. Dotson leads the Bison (3-4) with 17.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest this year.
Dotson will get help from junior Micki Impellizeri inside. The 6-foot-3 center from Long Island led the Bison freshman class in scoring, assists and blocks two seasons ago, but played in 17 games a season ago.
Freshman Claire DeBoer will play a big role inside for the Bison, already starting four games and averaging nearly 27 minutes through the first seven games of her freshman season. DeBoer, a 6-foot-1 forward from Grosse Point, Mich., is averaging eight points and six rebounds.