By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
Despite a career day from Bucknell sophomore forward Audrey Dotson, the Bison couldn’t put away a smaller, quicker Longwood squad Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion.
Thanks to a balanced scoring attack, the Lancers downed the Bison 60-52 in a non-league game.
“I did not think we were particularly sharp in our offense,” said Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell, whose team was playing for the first time since an overtime defeat at Penn on Dec. 3. “It’s always tough coming back from finals. I don’t think any of us are going to use that as an excuse. … But it’s a hurdle you have to get past.”
Dotson, who grew up just two hours north of Longwood’s southern Virginia campus, tallied game and career highs in both points (27) and rebounds (17) for the Bison (5-4). But no other Bucknell player was in double figures.
“I definitely felt good offensively,” said Dotson, who’s from Vienna, Va. “(And) I have a bunch of friends who go (to Longwood). So it’s fun playing against girls from our area. I recognized some of them.”
Bucknell outrebounded Longwood, 51-30, and shot nearly twice as many free throws. But the Bison turned the ball over 25 times and their field-goal percentage dropped dramatically in the second half, falling from 45.5 percent to 20 percent.
“I think we had some decent looks today,” Roussell. “I think (our) kids would love to have those looks again.”
As has been the case so far this season, Longwood (3-6) got a balanced scoring effort. Crystal Smith scored a team-high 13 points and Chelsea Coward added 11. Four other Lancers had between six and nine points.
Bucknell led 28-26 at halftime. But Longwood took the lead on a Smith layup with 14:53 to play and never relinquished it. The guard-oriented Lancers spread the Bison out consistently in the second half and got to the basket.
“They are very, very quick,” Roussell said. “They’re probably quicker than the majority of teams we’re going to see this year.”
To make matters worse for the Bison, Longwood suddenly grabbed some offensive rebounds in the second half. After getting just two before the break, the Lancers grabbed five after halftime.
“Their (offensive rebounds) were at the most inopportune times,” Roussell said. “They kind of broke our backs a couple of times.”
Longwood’s lead hovered around four or five for most of the second half. Bucknell — which made just one of its 12 3-point attempts in the game — suddenly couldn’t buy a basket inside either. Senior forward Lindsay Horbatuck missed a shot inside with 1:35 to go that would have cut the Longwood lead to three.
Smith made a free throw with 42 seconds left to put the Lancers up by six, and the Bison never got any closer.
Bucknell did not make a field goal for the final five minutes of the game. True to form, Dotson scored the team’s final points when she buried a pair from the charity stripe with 4:40 to go.
“She was really good in transition,” Roussell said. “And even when she didn’t get the ball in transition, she got good position early.”