ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The women's basketball team (6-3) used a 15-2 first-half run to pull away from visiting Canisius (2-5) on its way to its largest winning margin in series history Tuesday evening at the Reilly Center, 74-41.
The run started at the 10-minute mark of the first half when junior Megan Van Tatenhove knocked down two free throws to give the Bonnies a 19-16 lead. From there, the hosts rattled off eight more points until a Canisius bucket made it 27-18 with 5:27 remaining.
Unfazed, the Bonnies responded with five straight points, capped by sophomore Alaina Walker's lay-in, to open up a 14-point lead at 32-18 with 3:41 left. St. Bonaventure never allowed the Golden Griffins to get any closer than 11 points the rest of the way, and for the second consecutive game held its opponent below 30-percent shooting as Canisius finished at 29.4 percent from the floor. The Bonnies also didn't allow a single Canisius player to reach double-figure scoring, the first time they have done that to an opponent this year.
"I wasn't overly pleased with our first half," head coach Jim Crowley said despite his team having a 39-24 lead at the break. "But I was exceptionally pleased with our second half. They (Canisius) did the things they wanted to do in the first half, and in the second half they did the things we wanted them to do."
In that second half, the Brown and White held Canisius to just 17 points, the lowest second-half point total of any Bona opponent this year. The Bonnies also continued to execute at the offense end as they worked their way to a season-high point total and allowed many of their regulars to watch much of the second frame from the bench.
For the first time all season, the Bonnies put four players in double figures as Van Tatenhove led all scorers with 14 points. Redshirt junior Armelia Horton added 11, senior Cara Gustafson contributed 11 of her own and Walker finished with a season-high 10.
For Gustafson, the 11 points was something she hadn't seen in the previous six games combined. After netting 11 in the season opener against Binghamton, she landed awkwardly while attempting the final shot of regulation and missed the team's next game at Indiana with an ankle sprain. She returned two days later against Morgan State, but in six games since then had scored just seven total points.
"I came out ready to shoot and knew I had to be aggressive," Gustafson said of her 11-point first half. "My teammates helped a lot in urging me to 'just keep shooting.'"
Her teammates also helped in getting her the ball, as the Bonnies finished with 12 assists opposite just nine turnovers, and for the third time this year finished with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. St. Bonaventure also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Griffs, 47-25. The Bonnies came in averaging just 32.5 caroms a game, but exploded for a season high on this night, led by Walker's eight.
None of the Bonnies' regular starters played more than 25 minutes, with the exception of Walker's 28. For the first time all year Crowley used every single member of his bench, and his bench rewarded him with a season-high 28 points.
Freshman Ashley Zahn made the biggest dent, as the Canandaigua, N.Y. native made her first appearance of the year after missing the first eight games with a shoulder injury. She hit nothing but net on her first collegiate shot off an out-of-bounds feed from Gustafson with just three seconds remaining on the shot clock. She then hit nothing but net on her subsequent 3-point attempt from the baseline and finished with eight points in five minutes after converting two free throws.
St. Bonaventure will now carry a three-game winning streak into its last Big 4 matchup of the year against the University at Buffalo Bulls on Friday evening at 7.
Game Notes: Van Tatenhove has now been in double figures in each of the last five games … junior Jessica Jenkins was held to nine points, her fourth straight game in single digits after opening the year in double figures four of the first five games … junior Jennie Ashton played a career-high 13 minutes … freshman Ashley Capotosto made her first career free throw and grabbed a career-high two rebounds … in their last two games the Bonnies have out-rebounded their opponents by a combined 89-55 … the winning margin surpasses the previous high of 26, set in an 89-63 Bona win on Jan. 18, 1994.