By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- When the Bucknell women's basketball team won five consecutive games in November and early December, it was on the strength of its defense and rebounding.
However with three losses in five games, the Bison have strayed from some of things it did well.
"We've had a real focus in practice in getting back to our identity we had during our five-game winning steak," Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell said. "We have talked about as a staff that we have to keep working on the things we have to improve on, but we can't forget who we are."
Roussell's team showed its coach that it heeded his words in practice and Cornell paid the price on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion.
Bucknell dominated the glass and played its best defensive game of the season as the Bison beat the visitors from the Ivy League 64-39.
"It might have been our best defensive and rebounding game of the year," Roussell said.
Bucknell (8-5) out rebounded Cornell by 29 and senior forward Lindsay Horbatuck almost outrebounded the Big Red on her own. Horbatuck finished the game with 19 rebounds, while Cornell had 23 as a team. It was Horbatuck's seventh double-digit rebound game of the year.
"I knew coming into the game that Cornell's 42 (Allyson DiMagno) was a good offensive rebounder, so I was concentrating on that," Hortbatuck, who also had eight points and a team-high four assists, said. "I got a couple of rebounds early and I just got into the zone."
Audrey Dotson and Shelby Romine provided the offense for the Bison. Dotson continued her torrid recent play with 22 points and eight boards after being named the Patriot League Player of the Week last week. She made her first six shots Wednesday after going 5-of-5 in Saturday's loss to Youngstown State. Over the last two games, Dotson has made 15-of-her last 17 shots from the field.
"It's a confidence thing," Dotson said. "Being a sophomore now, you know what you are doing."
Romine provided the spark in the first half, pushing the Bison to a double-digit lead that it would never relinquish. Bucknell trailed 11-10 and Romine had missed her only attempt in the first 9:41 of play. Then she scored the next eight Bucknell points in a row to start a 17-2 run.
"We were struggling with movement on offense in the early going," Romine said. "We knew we had some mismatches inside and emphasis wasn't on where it should have been. Once we started moving the ball a little better and getting it inside, we were better."
Romine scored all 13 of her points in the spurt and by the time she knocked home a 3 with 5:18 left in the first half off a Horbatuck offensive board, Bucknell had a 27-13 lead.
The Bison, who have had problems closing out games all season, finally did so against the Big Red, but not without a near hiccup in the second half.
"We have games that we've built double-digit leads with strong first halves, but have let teams back into games in the second half," Roussell said. "I think part of it though is it's not a position this team was used to being in."
Cornell cut the Bucknell lead to 12 at 43-31 with 11:05 left in the game and forced a Bucknell turnover, but the Bison didn't let Cornell back into the game.
After a Roussell timeout, Bucknell scored eight consecutive points to push its lead back to 20 and the Bison were never threatened again.
"We just needed to slow the momentum down a little bit. We could see the easy layup if we broke the pressure," Roussell said. "We just needed to be a little more aggressive in attacking it. It was nice to see us close out a game."
DiMagno had 14 points to lead Cornell (6-6).