Bucknell Women's Basketball Advances to PL Tournament Semis with 54-40 Win over Army

Cosima Higham

March 5, 2011

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - Shelby Romine (Centreville, Va./Westfield) finished with 19 points helping No. 4 Bucknell women's basketball to lead the entire way in a 54-40 defeat over fifth-seeded Army in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals at Davis Gym on Saturday night. The Bison (11-16) advance to Wednesday's semifinals where they will meet top-seeded Navy at 7 p.m. in Annapolis, Md.

Bucknell won its first league quarterfinal since 2008. That game four years ago also came at Army's expense and sparked a run that ended with a Patriot League Championship for the Bison despite being seeded fifth.

This time around, Bucknell had home-court advantage in its favor. Hosting a Patriot League Tournament game for the first time in program history and benefitting from an energetic atmosphere at historic Davis Gym, the Bison got off to a 6-0 start. Army (13-16) took some time to get on the board. Their first field goal came with nearly five minutes off the clock, and their second didn't come until more than 10 minutes had passed. During that stretch, seven different Bison tallied points and Bucknell took a 13-7 advantage.

Army finally started to hit some shots as halftime approached. The Black Knights used the Bison's miscues in their favor, getting 10 points off 10 turnovers in the first half. Heading into the break, Bucknell held a relatively small advantage at 22-15 despite Army's 6-for-28 (21.4 percent) shooting from the field.

Bucknell hit the ground running in the second half as Joyce Novacek (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) got four quick points. Christina Chukwuedo (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) put the Bison lead in double digits for the first time with a jumper at 18:11, and that advantage continued to grow over the next several minutes. It reached its largest at 41-24 with 8:48 to play as Romine hit her second 3-pointer of the night.

The Bison didn't take many shots, but the ones they did get off were on the mark. The home team was 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) from the field in the second half, while Army was 10 of 41 (24.4 percent). Bucknell covered most of its ground from the free throw line, shooting 14-for-19 in the final frame and 18-for-26 (69.2 percent) for the game.

Army tried to threaten late in the action, getting its deficit down to single digits at the 2:19 mark. Jessie Coiffard hit a 3-pointer to set the score at 47-38, which was the closest the game had been since the Bison led by nine at 13:31. Free throws came into play after that point, however, and ended the Black Knights' upset bid.

Helping to keep Bucknell in front was Cosima Higham (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep Country Day). The senior made all four of her free throws in the final five minutes to keep the Bison's advantage around 10 points. Higham closed out the night with her second double-double in as many games, posting 10 points and 11 rebounds. Defensively, Higham totaled five blocked shots. She now has 110 in her career, ranking third all-time at Bucknell. It also gives her 35 for the season, which is 10th-most on the program's single-season list.

Higham also had 10 points and 13 boards when Bucknell and Army squared off a week ago in the regular-season finale. The Bison also won that contest, and with Saturday's success Bucknell completed the three-game sweep over the Black Knights. The last time the Bison defeated Army three times in a single season came in 2008.

Leading the way for Army was Erin Anthony, who tallied 10 points and 12 rebounds. Molly Yardley also had 12 points off the bench.

Bucknell returns to action on Wednesday at Navy. The Midshipmen, who beat Colgate 55-36 in their quarterfinal matchup, swept the Bison in the regular season. Wednesday's other semifinal will feature No. 2 Lehigh and No. 3 American. It is the first time since 1992 and only the second time in league history that all four top seeds advanced to the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament.