The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 11, 2013

Women's basketball: Bison fall short in Patriot League semifinals

The Daily Item

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Bucknell nearly pulled off yet another comeback, but lightning did not strike again as the sixth-seeded Bison fell 60-48 to second-seeded Navy at Alumni Hall on Monday night.

Bucknell ends its season at 15-16 overall, having enjoyed its biggest turnaround from one season to the next in program history. Lindsay Horbatuck finished with her 15th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Shelby Romine added 14 points of her own.

The Bison trailed by 13 at halftime but came out of the break knowing they had to do something special to extend its season. Bucknell played some of its best ball of the night midway through the second half, clawing its way to within four points with just under 10 minutes to play.  Romine converted a three-point play, and Audrey Dotson and Tyler Craig hit back-to-back threes to shrink the Mids’ lead down to 39-35.

The four-point deficit was the smallest for Bucknell since it trailed 7-3 to start the game. Craig’s bucket forced Navy into a timeout and the home team responded in a major way. After the Bison had done a solid defensive job of shutting down the Midshipmen’s outside shooting, the three returned to do damage.

Navy hit three straight 3-pointers in the midst of a 15-4 run that ballooned its lead back up to a range that was more comfortable. Just as Bucknell got a look at another upset, the Mids had a 54-39 advantage with four minutes to play.

“I’m never one for moral victories, but you have to tip your cap,” said first-year head coach Aaron Roussell after the game. “They had some kids that made some plays late in the game.”

The Mids’ offensive outburst created too much ground for the Bison to cover before the end of the game. Bucknell finishes the 2012-13 campaign with a 15-16 record, which after totaling five victories a year ago, marks its best improvement from one season to the next in program history.

Of Romine’s 14 points, 12 of them came in the second half. The junior found success out of halftime driving the lane, getting several of her buckets in the paint. Horbatuck also did much of her damage on the boards in the final 20 minutes of play, totaling eight of her 10. In her senior season, Horbatuck registered a double-double in each of her three games against the Mids. She averaged 12.0 points and 12.3 rebounds against Navy this winter.

As was the case in their quarterfinal matchup at American, the Bison struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first half. Bucknell shot .208 (5-24) from the field, while Navy was .407 (11-27) after the first 20 minutes of play. Horbatuck had seven of the team’s 13 points, including a rare 3-pointer to open scoring for the Bison.

Despite the discrepancy in the shooting percentages, the Bison still trailed just 26-13 at the break thanks in part to some hustle defense, especially later in the half. Navy was shooting nearly 70 percent from the field when Bucknell called a timeout at the 10:45 mark. Until that point, the Midshipmen had been hitting buckets from beyond the arc that gave them a comfortable lead early. Navy was 4-for-11 from 3-point distance, but each of those came in the first six minutes of play.

Bucknell’s timeout must have been inspiring as the Bison defense limited the Mids to just two more field goals for the rest of the half. Navy went nearly five minutes between field goals, but the best Bucknell could do during that stretch was hang around. The Bison notched just one point on a Dotson free throw during that same time.

Bucknell had a bit of an advantage against Navy from the free throw line throughout the game. The Mids did not make a trip to the charity stripe until they reached the bonus with less than three minutes left in the game. They ended the night 2-for-5. The Bison were 4-for-9.

At the end of the contest, Navy’s overall field goal percentage had improved to .481 (25-52), including .348 (8-23) from behind the arc. Bucknell finished at .328 (19-58) overall, with a slightly more efficient .545 (6-11) from 3-point range.

Leading the way for Navy was Alix Membreno with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jade Geif finished with 12 points, while Audrey Bauer 13.

Navy advances to the Patriot League Championship for the third consecutive year to take on Holy Cross on Saturday. The Crusaders were 59-38 winners over Colgate.