The women’s basketball team experienced its biggest season turnaround in program history this year, clinching the sixth seed in the Patriot League tournament and pulling off a first-round upset against third-seeded American University on March 7 before being eliminated at Navy on March 11. First-year head coach Aaron Roussell led the Bison to a 15-16 overall record, along with a 5-9 record in Patriot League play.
“I was fortunate to be surrounded by a great staff and a team that was welcome to a change which helped tremendously. Once the season got going the transition was easy because we were back to just playing and coaching basketball,” Roussell said.
Shelby Romine ’14, the team’s leading scorer, garnered Second Team All-Patriot League honors. Fellow co-captain Lindsay Horbatuck ’13 was named to the Academic All-Patriot League team. Horbatuck, an Elementary Education major, has made the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll three times and is a member of the Dean’s List.
In their first-round matchup at American, the Bison knew they had a tall order, having fallen to the Eagles twice during the regular season. It was a different story in their third meeting, as the Orange and Blue staged another second half comeback to come away with the 46-43 victory.
Audrey Dotson ’15 finished with a game-high 17 points. The backcourt tandem of Romine and Alyssa Dunn ’13 added nine points each. League-leading rebounder Horbatuck controlled the glass with 16 rebounds to go along with four steals.
The Bison struggled in the first half, shooting 5-25 from the field and committing 14 turnovers that translated to 16 points for the Eagles. An early 11-0 run guided American to the 21-11 advantage at halftime.
A 16-2 opening run gave the Bison their first lead of the game at the 13:36 mark of the second half. Romine started and ended the run with a couple of three-pointers. Dunn scored consecutive baskets and Dotson added another three during the run to take a 27-23 lead. Katherine Harris ’15 continued the streak shooting with another basket from beyond the arc.
After American tied
the game at 35, Dunn and Dotson created some breathing room for the Bison with consecutive baskets. The game would come down to the wire, as American nailed a three-pointer to cut the Bison’s lead to one with seven seconds left. Dotson was fouled and hit both of her free throws. American made one last attempt to force overtime, but the Eagles’ three-point attempt hit the side of the rim, allowing the Bison to claim the upset.
“We started off the game very slow, and we weren’t getting much offensively however we were holding them defensively. We came out the second half extremely strong and were able to go on a run that ultimately gave us the lead that we kept for the rest of the game. It was a huge upset that not many people were expecting,” Horbatuck said.
After the win, the Orange and Blue tried to convert another upset over second-seeded Navy, a team they defeated 55-48 on Senior Night. Unfortunately, the Bison could not duplicate their second half comeback from the previous round, eventually falling 60-48 in Annapolis, Md.
The halftime score was 26-13 in favor of Navy after it held the Bison to 5-24 shooting in the first half. The Orange and Blue stormed back in the second half when Dotson and Tyler Craig ’16 nailed consecutive three-pointers to cut Navy’s lead to four with 9:53 left. It would not be enough to overcome the Midshipmen, as Navy scored 10 unanswered points and carried a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“It would be impossible to label this season anything other than a success. We surpassed just about everybody’s expectations, including many of our players. I am proud of our team and so happy that we were able to send our seniors out with some positive accomplishments and memories,” Roussell said.
Despite the loss, the team had a number of accomplishments to be proud of this season. Horbatuck, Dunn and Dotson were all named Bison Athletes of the Week. The Orange and Blue enjoyed a five-game winning streak early in the season, as well as a four-game win streak in conference play, including wins over Lehigh and Lafayette. The team also set the program’s new single-season rebounding record. Horbatuck is graduating second on that individual list as well.
“I think that this was one of the best seasons that I have been apart of and would not have changed my senior year one bit. My senior class has been through a lot because of the all the coaching changes that we have had throughout our four years. I am so thankful for my teammates, coaches, professors and most of all my parents for all the support they have provided me over the past four years,” Horbatuck said.
Joining Horbatuck and Dunn on the graduating stage are teammates Ashley Baxter ’13, Felicia Mgbada ’13 and Rachel Voss ’13.
In addition, Romine became the 20th member of the program’s 1,000 point club.
“This year we had more confidence and competitiveness. We came to each practice with a different attitude. Confidence is such a huge part of the game. I have extremely high hopes for next season,” Romine said. “Everyone is bought in and geared at achieving the same goal: winning a Patriot League Championship.”
Roussell also remains optimistic about the team next season, as he stresses the importance of continuing to improve.
“My goal is to always win the next game. Overall, we worked hard this year but there is another level of dedication that we can get to and it is our job as coaches to make sure our players want to get to that level,” Roussell said.