The Bison women’s basketball team traveled to Annapolis, Md. on Feb. 25 to face off against Navy in a game that would have important implications for playoff standings. With a win, the Orange and Blue would clinch the regular season championship and the top seed in the postseason. Despite trailing for most of the contest, the Bison rallied late to steal away the victory by a final score of 63-54.
Megan McGurk ’17 and Claire DeBoer ’17 demonstrated impeccable leadership and poise in leading their team to the comeback. McGurk scored a season-high 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while DeBoer tallied 15 points and five rebounds, including 10 points in the fourth quarter. Kate Walker ’19 also contributed 10 points in the victory, and Catherine Romaine ’18 provided a spark off the bench with six points and three rebounds. All eight Bison players who saw the court scored.
With less than four minutes to play in the first half, the Orange and Blue had a 19-point deficit, but went on an 8-0 run to close the second quarter, closing the gap to 11 at halftime. The Bison carried that momentum into the second half, putting up 41 points in the frame to seal the win.
An offensive explosion in the fourth quarter pushed the Bison over the edge, outscoring Navy 24-6 in the period. After DeBoer hit two free throws to give the Bison the 54-53 lead, Kyi English ’19 completed a pivotal 3-point play to increase the lead. After that, Navy never came within one possession of the Bison. This burst on offense, accompanied by strong defense by the Orange and Blue, held Navy to 1-of-15 shooting in the final quarter, never giving them a chance to get back into the contest.
“It was a surreal feeling in those huddles,” head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We obviously didn’t like the spot we were in most of the night, but everyone was so positive and really believed we were going to win that game the whole time.”
A combination of well-timed offensive runs and relentless defense have been signature to the team’s key wins this season. The Bison have finished the regular season and currently have an impressive record of 24-5 overall and 16-2 in league play.
“Our team was very excited to pull out the win at Navy. We dug ourselves a hole in the first by not focusing on defensive assignments but luckily we were able to refocus after halftime. It truly took a lot of heart but we never doubted ourselves,” McGurk said. “We now have home court advantage for the Patriot League tournament and we could not be more excited. The atmosphere at Sojka Pavilion is hard to beat.”
It is the first time in program history that the women have won back-to-back regular season championships, but the Orange and Blue have not won the Patriot League Championship since 2008. They will host a quarterfinal game on March 6 at 6 p.m. against an opponent to be determined, looking to start off strong on their run for the postseason championship.
“We are pretty pumped to be able to play the PL Tournament at home in Sojka. We have had success for a long time in this building and it brings an extra level of comfort to be able to be at home. However, we still have to go out and go get these wins,” Roussell said.