The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 13, 2008

Bucknell shakes off up-and-down regular season to claim league title

WORCESTER, Mass. — It was pretty funny watching petite senior Kristina Collymore carry around the large Patriot League championship game trophy moments after Bucknell had disposed of host Holy Cross 57-45 on Wednesday night.

There was nothing funny about the road the Bison took to get a grip on that trophy.

Preseason favorite Bucknell, now 16-15, never won more than two games in a row this season until the tournament and still seemed to be carrying the burden of expectations — ones it had failed to meet before Wednesday.

Before Wednesday, the league’s most athletic and talented team had nothing to show for it except shortcomings.

Led by a senior warrior and inspired by the play of two freshmen, the Bison finally shook off the demons.

Bucknell took the lead for good on an Amanda Brown three-pointer at the 7:36 mark of the first half and held off Holy Cross’ one spurt in the second half to win its second tournament title — first since 2002.

Bucknell, which became the lowest seed (fifth) to win a league title, finds out who, when and where it plays in next week’s NCAA tournament on Monday night.

The Bison did it Wednesday night with defense, anchored by senior captain Kesha Champion, who hit the trifecta by scoring her 1,000th career point, earning tournament MVP honors and getting her hands on the championship trophy. All of that came a day after battling a stomach virus.

In the end, it was the Crusaders (19-13) who were feeling sick.

“Their presence was everywhere,” Holy Cross’ Alyssa May said after scoring a team-high 11 points. “Nothing came easy. We had to work for everything we got.”

The Crusaders didn’t get much thanks to a Bison defense that was relentless for 94 feet for 40 minutes.

“Absolutely that was the difference from the first two games (against Holy Cross),” coach Kathy Fedorjaka said in comparison to the regular-season losses. “We played defense (tonight) from endline to endline.

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