POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The women's basketball team (5-3) overcame a near sold-out arena, 27.5 percent shooting and more turnovers than host Marist (4-2), but it was able to snap the Red Foxes 12-game home-court winning streak with a gutty 45-40 win Saturday evening.
With offense at a premium in the first half, the two perennial mid-major powers went to the locker room with the Bonnies up just 17-15 after the game's first 20 minutes. The two teams then came alive with a relative offensive explosion to open the second frame, and Marist took its first lead of the night with a 3-pointer at the 12:42 mark to go up 33-31.
The two teams battled from there, until the 6:05 mark when with the game knotted at 35-35, sophomore Chelsea Bowker hit the biggest of her career-high five 3-pointers on the evening.
Sophomore Alaina Walker started the play with a steal on the defensive end and headed the other way with a two-on-one with junior sharpshooter Jessica Jenkins flanking her to her left. Jenkins drifted out to the left wing beyond the 3-point line, and Walker fed the Atlantic 10 Conference's leading 3-point shooter. However, the Marion, Ohio native – who had struggled with her shot all night as she finished just 1-of-6 from the field – elected to not shoot and drove to her left before kicking to Walker on the baseline. Walker then found a trailing Bowker at the top of the key, and the Bonnies never again trailed.
From there, St. Bonaventure won the game exactly the way it wanted to – on the defensive end. With the game tied at 35-35 with exactly 10 minutes left, the Bonnies held the hosts – who had the majority of the 2,605 spectators in their corner – without a field goal for nearly eight minutes until a 3-pointer with 2:05 left made the score 43-39.
"This is a terrific win; there's no other way to say it," head coach Jim Crowley said as his team held Marist to a season-low 28.6 percent from the floor. "To come into this atmosphere, against this high quality of an opponent and knowing how important this game was (for Marist to get revenge for last year's loss to the Bonnies), for us to grind out a victory was something that really showed a lot from our kids."
Bowker finished with a career-high 17 points on five 3's on a night when her team needed the Salem, Ohio product more than ever. Jenkins, who came in averaging 13.9 points a game, was held to a season-low three points, and Megan Van Tatenhove was held nearly six points below her average of 15.7 a game. However, Van Tatenhove was instrumental in the win from a defensive standpoint as she corralled 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.
Rebounding was also a key component to the Bonnies' win, as after holding a slight 22-18 advantage at the half, the Brown and White controlled the second half and finished with a 45-30 advantage, including a season-best 14 offensive boards. Heading into the game, the Bonnies were statistically the worst offensive rebounding team in the A-10, averaging just 8.1 a game.
Walker was a key cog in that rebounding total, as her scoreless night didn't keep her off the glass, finishing with a career-high 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Redshirt junior Armelia Horton wasn't far behind as she grabbed nine caroms – one shy of tying her career high – to go along with 12 points.
The win snapped what was the 15th-longest home-court winning streak in the nation. The Red Foxes last home loss was to No. 16 Oklahoma on Dec. 9, 2009. The Bonnies also forced the nation's leaders in protecting the ball into 12 turnovers, including seven in the first half and four before the first media timeout. The Red Foxes - who have made five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and six in seven years - came in averaging just 9.6 giveaways a game.
With their record two games above .500 for the first time all year, the Bonnies will now head back to western New York for a pair of Big 4 matchups. The Canisius Golden Griffins head to the Reilly Center first on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip.
Game Notes: This is the third opponent this year the Bonnies have held below 30-percent shooting, something they only did once all of last year … this is the first game Jenkins failed to make a 3-pointer (0-5) … this is also the first time the Bonnies had more turnovers than their opponent and still won the game (1-3) … Kelsey Beynnon came off the bench to lead Marist offensively as she was the lone Red Fox player in double figures with 11, nine of which came in the second half … Marist received its 2010 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rings and raised its banner prior to the start of the game in commemoration of its 2010 MAAC title.