Bucknell 66, American 54 Mar 17, 2019 19:28:10 GMT -5
Post by notjuanjones on Mar 17, 2019 19:28:10 GMT -5
AU just didn't make enough shots today, and the Bison did when it mattered-three times in the fourth quarter, after AU cut a double-figure deficit down to as few as four points. And Bucknell pulled away in the final three minutes to claim the PL championship and the automatic NCAA bid. AU will play in the women's NIT and find out its opponent Monday night.
AU was down almost all game, coming out slow and falling down 11-2, allowing Bucknell numerous offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. We stiffened up some defensively by the time the quarter ended and trailed by just 15-10 after one, but the pattern of Bucknell's aggressiveness was set, and I think that paid off for them in the second half. AU trailed by 10 in the second quarter before going on a 14-3 run over seven and a half minutes, behind Kaitlyn Lewis and Katie Marenyi. A free throw by Jade Edwards with 1:08 left in the half put the Eagles up for the first time, 24-23, but Bucknell scored the last four points, with Ellie Mack hitting a jumper, then beating out two Eagles on the baseline for a big offensive rebound in the final seconds, leading to a Kaitlyn Slagus layup with a second to go, and a 27-24 Bison lead at the half.
We had a chance to take the lead early in the third, down two, but Kaitlyn missed an open three, and Bucknell took control of the game from there. Their aggressiveness in the first half, I thought, was rewarded by the officials. The fouls finished 21-13, and Bucknell got to the penalty relatively early in the third and fourth quarters, while we shot just two free throws in the entire second half. I'm not complaining about the quality of the refs; Joe Vaszily has reffed five straight women's Final Fours and did the championship game between Notre Dame and Mississippi State last season. He's one of the best. But, I think all refs, despite their insistence otherwise, are swayed when one team gets after it more than the other. And Bucknell got after it on the glass, outerebounding us 40-23. And I think that got them some favorable whistles.
At any rate, we hung in there, trailing 47-41 after three. But another offensive rebound, by Mack, led to a Slagus three with 6:12 left to put Bucknell up 52-43. Katilyn's steal led to a corner three by Elina with 4:16 to play to get us within six. A stop could have flipped the momentum. But Slagus drove straight to the cup for two. Cecily came back with a deep triple at the top of the key to make it 54-49. A stop could have, again, flipped the momentum. But Mack got deep in the post for a short turnaround at 3:14 to make it 56-49. Elina found Katie in the corner for a third straight three for AU, making it 56-52 with 3:01 left. For a third straight time, a defensive stop could have really flipped the momentum. This time, though, Bucknell made a contested shot, with Abby Kapp hitting a jumper with a hand in her face to push Bucknell back up by six. Elina missed a decent look at a three the next time down, and we had to start fouling.
The last gasp came with AU down seven, 61-54, in the final minute. Indy stripped Bucknell's Kyi English, and was out front for what should have been a fast-break layup to cut the deficit to five. But, she missed the layup. Bucknell rebounded, and that was that.
Slagus was named tournament MVP after going for 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Cecily led us with 16 and 5, with 3 assists. But we shot just 38 percent (21 of 56) from the floor, while Bucknell shot 49 (23 of 47). And, as noted above, they killed us on the glass. We played them three times; they beat us three times. At some point, you have to tip your cap.
Many thanks to Cecily-the PL Player of the Year and the PL Student-Athlete of the Year-along with our other seniors, Elina Koskimies (first-team all PL defense), Kaitlyn Lewis and Morgan Bartner. They continued to help set the standard of AU women's basketball that has been established under Coach Gebbia the last six seasons. And, they're not quite done yet. The WNIT awaits.