Ortega, Bonnies Surge Past Niagara
Trailing by five at halftime, the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team used a 12-0 run in the middle of the second half to grab the lead away from the Purple Eagles and they never looked back.
The Bonnies struggled mightily in the first half shooting the ball. As a team they shot just 24 percent (6-25) from the floor and 8-14 from the free throw line. As a team they went 8-8 from the charity stripe Saturday afternoon in their season opener. Doris Ortega led the scoring in the first half for SBU with six despite going 1-8 from the floor. She knocked down 4-6 from the line and grabbed five boards.
With time winding down in the first half and Niagara in full control of the game, freshman Nyla Rueter came from the weak side to block the potential buzzer beating lay-in. That play appeared to energize the Bonnies heading into the locker room.
In the second half, preseason Big 4 Player of the Year Kayla Stroman scored nine straight points for the Purple Eagles to maintain their lead. Trailing 38-32, the Bonnies would use a 12-0 over the next six minutes to grab the lead that they would never relinquish.
Freshman forward Katie Healy and senior guard Alaina Walker took over. Healy worked the post like a veteran scoring six of her 12 points during that 12-0 run. Walker would collect three of her season and team high-tying 10 rebounds during that run as well.
With 8:05 to play, SBU held a six point advantage, their largest of the game, but that was as comfortable as it would get. Vanessa Neal cut the lead to four with a lay-up then knocked down deep three to bring Niagara within one 5:37 to play. Just eight seconds later however, Bonnies junior guard Ashely Zahn, who scored a career high 14 points on Saturday, drilled a three from the wing to answer. Zahn would finish would seven points on 2-6 shooting from distance.
Niagara's Lauren Gatto scored the last of her 12 points with 4:40 to play, cutting the SBU lead to 47-45. Doris Ortega followed that up by knocking down two of her eight made free throws bringing the Bona lead back to four.
On the very next possession for the Bonnies, Ortega worked her way into the paint and converted the eventual game-winner, giving the Bonnies a 51-45 lead with 3:30 to play.
The Bonnies failed to connect on the front of two, one and one opportunities allowing Niagara to creep within two , but fortunately for the Bonnies, the Purple Eagles ran out of time.
It was the third career double-double for Doris Ortega. A much improved effort from Ortega compared to Saturday when she put up just two points and one rebound. Alaina Walker scored seven points and grabbed 10 boards which was also a vast improvement over her zero points, four rebound performance against Binghamton.
With the win today, the Bonnies have now won 14-straight true road games. They went undefeated (13-0) on the road in 2011-12.
The Bonnies are in action again on Friday (Nov. 16) at home against Colgate. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. in the Reilly Center. The Bonnies defeated the Red Raiders on the road last season 68-49 after trailing 28-27 at halftime. SBU put five players in double figures to outscore Colgate 41-21 in the second half.