Feb. 9, 2013
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Despite entering the final five minutes of the game shooting just two of 17, senior Anna Simmers did not let it deter her as she went on an 10-point scoring outburst to push Army women's basketball to a 44-35 win at Bucknell Saturday night. Simmers had just two points at halftime but went on to tie for an Army-best 14 along with freshman Kelsey Minato. The win over the Bison is the second of the season for Army as the Black Knights earn the season sweep of Bucknell for the second consecutive season.
Neither team ever got into an offensive rhythm as Army (17-6, 6-2 Patriot League) sputtered to just a 26.2-percent shooting clip and was barely outshot by the Bison (26.7 percent), who fell to 13-10 on the year and 4-4 in conference play.
The combined 79 points scored mark the lowest total in the 52-game Army-Bucknell series which dates back to 1983-84.
Army led for nearly the entire first half until the Bison scored a two-point lead with just under a minute to play, and went up by as much as four before Minato sank a pair of free-throws with no time left on the clock as Army trailed 19-17 at intermission. Army was held under 20 points in the first half for the third time in the past four games.
Both teams came out of the break struggling as just one point was scored through the first six minutes. Junior Jen Hazlett broke Army's scoreless streak after 6:21 played with a weak-side feed from Jordan Elliott which Hazlett caught in the air and laid it in.
Bucknell maintained a single-possession lead until midway through the second when Hazlett made a three-pointer to give Army its first lead in over 12 minutes with 10:06 left on the clock. The lead would change hand three more times and be knotted an addition three occasions before Simmers swooped in. Hazlett finished with eight points.
Simmers and Minato combined for Army's final 14 points, including four free-throws by the rookie point guard in the final 24 seconds of the game. Simmers had now led Army in scoring nine times while Minato has had team-high points in eight games, including five Patriot League tilts.
Freshman Aimee Oertner led the rebounding effort as the Black Knights won the battle of the boards for the 15th time this season, 39-36. Oertner grabbed 12 caroms, matching her career best and totaling double-digit rebounds for the eighth time in 2012-13. Oertner also rejected five shots, one shy of her career standard. She entered the weekend ninth among all Division I players in blocks per game (2.95).
"A win is a win," said Army head coach Dave Magarity after the game. "We struggled about as bad as we could have offensively; how often are you going to win a game on the road shooting 26 percent? It speaks to the toughness of this group, their fortitude, they wouldn't quit, they wouldn't go away. Our defense was tremendous. Olivia (Schretzman) and Aimee (Oertner) struggled to get going offensively, but their ability to block shots and change shots was essential. We overcame foul trouble and Anna who struggled shooting - but how big were the shots she hit down the stretch?
"Here's the thing, she's always covering the other team's best player. Shelby Romine is a great player. To have to run and chase her around for 40 minutes is a tough task for any player. To have one of our top offensive players do that, she was having a rough night. But when you need her and Kelsey Minato, they just step up."
Army will play the first of just two home games in the month of February on Wednesday when Lafayette travels to West Point. The Black Knights won the first meeting of the season in Easton, Pa., 63-43, for their largest Patriot League win since besting Colgate by 20 in 2009. Tipoff at Christl Arena is slated for 7 p.m.
For tickets, visit www.goARMYsports.com or call 1-877-TIX-ARMY. Fans can also stop by the ticket office at its new location at Gate 3 of Michie Stadium during its regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.). The Holleder Center ticket office, located just outside Christl Arena, opens for sales one hour prior to home contests.
Game Notes: Army is 17-6 for its highest win total since 2008-09 (19-12) ... Army's second consecutive sweep of the Bison was its second in program history and first since 1990-91, 1991-92 ... the Black Knights' ninth road win of the season is their highest total since 2008-09 ... Bucknell's Shelby Romine scored her 1,000th career point ... the Bison hosted a Breast Cancer Awareness Night as Army wore its custom-made black uniforms with pink ACU insets.