Slagus leads Bucknell women by American 66-54 for NCAA berth
LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Kaitlyn Slagus scored 23 points to lead Bucknell to its school record 28th win, the Patriot League tournament championship and its fourth NCAA Tournament berth with a 66-54 win over American on Sunday.
Kyi English added 14 points and six assists and Ellie Mack had 11 points for the Bison (28-5), who are headed to the NCAAs for the second time in three seasons. Bucknell’s senior class, which includes Slagus and English, set a school and conference record with 102 wins. Slagus had seven rebounds and four blocks and was named tournament MVP.
Bucknell closed the game on a 10-2 run after Kaitlyn Marenyi’s 3-pointer pulled the Eagles (22-10) within 56-52 with three minutes to play. The Bison made 8 of 10 free throws while American was 1 of 7 from the field.
The clinching point came with two Slagus free throws with 54.2 seconds left. A basket by Elina Kosimies pulled American within seven with 1:20 to play and Indeya Sanders got a steal but she missed a layup. Slagus was fouled on the rebound and pushed the lead to 63-54.
Patriot League player of the year Cecily Carl led American with 16 points and Marenyi had 11.
The Bison swept the regular-season series, opening league play in January with a 71-56 win and then edging the Eagles 65-64 in March. American won 15 straight conference games with both teams finishing 16-2. Bucknell lost a late-season game to Holy Cross on a buzzer-beater but came back to set Patriot tourney records for fewest points allowed and margin of victory with a 66-31 win over the Crusaders in the semifinals.
The Eagles closed within 32-30 early in the third quarter before Abby Kapp and Ellie Mack had 3-pointers in a 9-0 run. American got the deficit down to six entering the fourth quarter and three straight possessions with 3-pointers cut a nine-point lead down to four.