CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the St. Bonaventure University women's basketball team, the dance continues.
And in fitting fashion, it was a pair of seniors leading the way as Katie Healy tallied a game-high 23 points and Nyla Rueter added 15 points to lead the 10th-seeded Bonnies to an upset win over No. 7 Oklahoma State, 65-54, on Friday night.
Healy turned in an extremely efficient shooting performance, connecting on nine of her 13 tries from the floor, adding a 5-of-6 line at the foul line. Rueter, meanwhile, gave the Bonnies energy down the stretch to hold off a late Cowgirls rally with two of her three 3-pointers down the stretch.
The Bonnies improve to 24-7 overall on the year while Oklahoma State's season ends at 21-10.
"We have kids who are really tough and have a lot of heart and don't want to let each other down," Bonnies head coach Jim Crowley said. "That's what makes this team special."
Healy's 23 points represent a new Bonnies NCAA Tournament high, surpassing the 22 points scored by Jessica Jenkins vs. Marist in the second round of the 2012 tournament.
St. Bonaventure shot 50 percent from the floor (23-46) while holding Oklahoma State to 34 percent for the game – including 30 percent after halftime.
"Our seniors led the way," Crowley said. "It was a really good team win."
Oklahoma State played like the higher seed in the early going, grabbing an 11-3 lead after hitting four of its first six shots including two of its first three tries from long range.
Bona then turned the tide, however.
The Brown and White embarked on a 12-1 run, taking the lead for the first time at the 3:25 mark of the opening period on a trey from Miranda Drummond. Healy closed the quarter with a jumper to give her 10 of the Bonnies' first 19 points and a six-point lead after a period.
Rueter opened the second quarter by draining a straight away three, extending the lead to 22-13, and following a defensive stop, Matea Britvar followed with a long two for an 11-point cushion.
Oklahoma State went over six minutes without a field goal as the Bonnies surged ahead, but Bona was not without concerns as fouls began to mount. No fewer than four players were in foul trouble as Mariah Ruff was limited to six minutes in the half while Britvar and Gabby Richmond each had three fouls.
St. Bonaventure's double-digit lead would be trimmed to just 33-28 at halftime.
The second half started quietly for both sides with a scoreless period of over three minutes out of intermission. The Bonnies' lead would hover between five and seven for the next three-plus minutes, but Drummond was then forced to the bench with her third foul.
The Cowgirls closed to within 37-34 following free throws from Big 12 Player of the Year Brittney Martin at the 4:17 mark of the third, but Rueter would put the Cowgirls' rally to bed.
The senior sharpshooter drilled back-to-back threes from each wing to push the lead back to nine.
By the end of the quarter, though, Oklahoma State was back within 45-40 following a bucket in the lane from Martin.
Another layup from Martin started the fourth for a 45-42 score, and the margin was three again following a lay-in by Sydney Walton with 7:48 remaining.
Healy then took over.
A turnaround jumper in the lane from the senior started a Bona surge. She followed with a steal on the defensive end, then drove the lane for a bucket and the foul, completing a traditional three-point play for a 52-44 advantage.
Oklahoma State made one final stand, closing to five with 4:11 to go.
Another Bonnies senior would provide the dagger, though.
Emily Michael found the bottom of the net with a three in front of the Bona bench and thwarted the Cowgirls' comeback effort.
From there, Oklahoma State never got closer than seven.
Drummond tallied 11 points while Michael posted six points, six rebounds and three of St. Bonaventure's 10 steals.
Martin recorded 23 points and 13 rebounds, but was just 6-of-15 from the floor. Despite being undersized in comparison to Oklahoma State's combination of 6-foot-4 Kaylee Jensen and 6-3 Mandy Coleman inside, the Bonnies still won the battle of the boards by a 33-28 margin. The Bonnies also outscored the Cowgirls 26-16 in the paint.
"To come here and beat a really good basketball team feels amazing to us all," Healy said. "We're humbled by this experience and on the floor you could see how hard we were working to get this win."
GAME NOTES: St. Bonaventure is now 3-1 overall all-time in the NCAA Tournament … Bona has never lost in its opening round game of a national postseason tournament … the Bonnies led for over 33 minutes of game time and never trailed after taking the lead on Drummond's three at the 3:25 mark of the first … Ruff had a team-high five assists … Oklahoma State also suffered a loss in the 7/10 game last year, falling to Florida Gulf Coast as the No. 10 seed in the first round. Prior to that, the Cowgirls had won four straight first round games ... at the third quarter media timeout, four Bonnies had at least three fouls ... the Bonnies are 8-7 against power conference teams since 2011-12 and 3-1 this year (wins over Penn State and Georgetown earlier in the season).