The AU women’s basketball team used a strong defensive effort and sizzling three-point shooting to defeat the Bucknell Bison 63-51 on Wednesday night at Bender Arena.
AU jumped out to an 11-4 lead to begin the game behind two three-pointers by Michelle Kirk and one by Ebony Edwards. Kirk finished with three first-half triples and the Eagles shot 6-9 from beyond the arc in the opening half.
“I think it was just a lot of people finding the open player and everyone making the open shots,” Kirk said.
Forcing 15 Bison turnovers in the first half, the Eagles were able to extend their advantage to 26-11 with just under eight minutes to go in the half. The tough defense created offensive opportunities for the Eagles, as they registered 16 points courtesy of several Bucknell miscues.
“We thought we had an opportunity to create some steals and turn those into points,” said AU Head Coach Matt Corkery. “We really did that well and you create those opportunities because of high energy.”
Heading into the locker room, the Eagles held a commanding 40-21 lead. Kirk led all players with 13 first-half points, while Edwards and Liz Leer chipped in six apiece. Raven Harris spearheaded the defensive effort with three steals.
The Bison showed signs of life to start the second half behind the strong shooting of Rachel Voss, who finished the game with 13 points. The Eagles’ 40-21 halftime lead was cut to 49-37 with 9:10 remaining.
A Bucknell layup and jump shot sandwiched between a Kirk three-pointer and free throw kept the AU advantage at 12 with 5:25 to play.
Another Kirk three-pointer, her fifth of the night, coupled with a Leer layup extended the Eagles’ lead to 58-41 and squashed any chance of a Bucknell comeback. Although Bucknell outscored AU 30-23 in the second half, the Eagles’ dominating first half performance was too much to overcome. Corkery, though, was not pleased with his team’s second-half play.
“Bucknell showed a great amount of energy,” Corkery said. “We shortchanged ourselves by not playing that hard for a full 40 minutes.”
Kirk agreed with Corkery’s second-half assessment.
“There was a lack of energy, especially on the defensive end,” Kirk said. “They were getting open threes and we didn’t really defend them that well.”
Kirk finished with 20 points to lead all scorers. Leer registered 12 points, while Harris added 10 along with five assists for AU. The Eagles shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and 35 percent from the field for the game. Joyce Novacek led Bucknell with 14 points and eight rebounds. Despite shooting 50 percent from the field, 28 turnovers made it nearly impossible for the Bison to come away victorious.
Next up for the AU women is a trip to Hamilton, N.Y. to take on the Colgate Raiders who are 6-10 on the year and 1-1 in conference play. The Eagles next home game will be next Wednesday against the Army Black Knights.
With the win, the Eagles improve to 2-0 in Patriot League play and 9-7 overall. The loss dropped the Bison to 0-2 in the PL and 4-11 on the season.
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