LEWISBURG — Bucknell seemed as though it was going to cruise to a blowout win early in Wednesday's Patriot League women's basketball game.
The Bison appeared on the verge of a rout in the third quarter, but Navy had an answer.
Bucknell did enough down the stretch — shooting 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 42 seconds — to hold off the Midshipmen for a 75-65 victory.
"I think you have to give Navy a lot of credit," Bucknell coach Trevor Woodruff said. "I think there were a lot of times in that second half they could have just said it wasn't their night."
The Bison (17-6, 10-2 Patriot League) took their biggest lead of the game with 3:48 left in the third quarter when Autumn Ceppi finished a three-point play to put Bucknell ahead 50-31.
Mary Kate Ulasewicz answered with a 3-pointer for Navy, part of her game- and career-high 29 points.
"We never give up," Ulasewicz said. "We're always going to fight. We're always going to play hard, and just keep believing."
From there, the Midshipmen (7-16, 2-10) slowly cut into Bucknell's lead. Navy pulled to within six with 50 seconds left.
"It was an aspect of trying to get one stop, one score; one stop, one score," Ulasewicz said.
That's when Bucknell's free-throw shooting helped the Bison close out the win. Abby Kapp, Ellie Mack and Taylor O'Brien each made a pair to ice it.
"It's a tough league," Woodruff said. "If you're not at — or near — your best every night teams can give you a hard time and beat you. We were fortunate to have just enough."
Ulasewicz, who had six points in the first half, was a thorn in Bucknell's side throughout the second. She scored 12 points in the third quarter and 11 in the fourth. Navy's second-leading scorer, Jasmine Bishop, finished with 11 points.
"(Ulasewicz) was terrific," Woodruff said. "She made every play she needed to make and kept them in the game. Kudos to her."
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Ulasewicz said.
Fortunately for the Bison, Mack scored 15 of her team-high 18 points in the second half.
"I only shot twice in the first half," Mack said. "If we're going to succeed, I need to shoot a little bit more. My mindset was to attack the basket. It just so happened that it worked out well for me."
Mack was a big part of Bucknell stretching its lead to 19 points. She converted two three-point plays in the first 35 seconds of the third quarter to push Bucknell's lead to 15 (37-22).
Tessa Brugler added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Bison.
Bucknell started the game well. The Bison made their first five shots, and led 10-0 less than three minutes into the game. Bucknell shot only 1-of-7 the rest of the quarter, as Navy closed on a 15-4 run to take the lead after the opening period.
"I wish we could have done some things better," Woodruff said.
After the game was tied at 20 with 5:46 left in the half, Bucknell closed the second quarter with an 11-2 run to take a nine-point advantage into halftime.
BUCKNELL 75, NAVY 65
Navy (7-16, 2-10) 65
Jasmine Bishop 4-6 3-4 11, Lindsay Llewellyn 3-5 0-0 8, Montana Braxton 1-8 0-0 2, Mimi Schrader 1-3 0-0 3, Mary Kate Ulasewicz 9-14 9-9 29, Imani Edmonds 0-0 0-0 0, Nyah Garrison 3-6 0-0 7, Ciera Hertelendy 2-3 1-4 5. Totals 23-45 13-17 65.
Bucknell (17-6, 10-2) 75
Tessa Brugler 7-11 2-4 16, Ellie Mack 6-9 4-4 18, Taylor O'Brien 4-8 2-2 11, Ally Johnson 3-5 1-2 9, Abby Kapp 3-5 4-4 10, Tai Johnson 1-3 0-0 2, Autumn Ceppi 3-5 1-1 7, Gia Hayes 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 28-48 14-18 75.
Halftime: Bucknell, 31-22. 3-point goals: Navy 6-11 (Llewellyn 2-3, Ulasewicz 2-3, Schrader 1-2, Garrison 1-3); Bucknell 5-9 (Mack 2-2, A. Johnson 2-2, O'Brien 1-2, Kapp 0-1, T. Johnson 0-1, Hayes 0-1). Rebounds: Navy 15 (Bishop 4, Schrader 4); Bucknell 25 (Brugler 9). Assists: Navy 10 (four tied with 2); Bucknell 15 (A. Johnson 4). Steals: Navy 7 (Ulasewicz 3); Bucknell 5 (O'Brien 2). Blocked shots: Navy 1 (Schrader); Bucknell 0. Turnovers: Navy 16; Bucknell 16. Total fouls: Navy 19; Bucknell 18. Fouled out: Braxton. A: 799.