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Bona Defense Vital In Low-Scoring Victory Over UTSA

Bona Defense Vital In Low-Scoring Victory Over UTSA

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – With offense at a premium Tuesday night, the women's basketball team (8-4) won yet another game on the defensive end, holding UTSA (4-7) to a season-low point total en route to a 46-37 victory in the final game of the UTSA Holiday Classic.

The Bonnies entered the game statistically as the 15th-toughest defense in the country, allowing opponents to score just 52.8 points per game, but at the outset it didn't look like they would hold the Roadrunners below that average. UTSA jumped out to a 12-7 lead at the 12-minute mark, but then the Bona defense woke up, simultaneously fueling its offense.

Junior Jessica Jenkins spearheaded a game-changing run with a 3 before freshman CeCe Dixon banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the arc at the 10:42 mark to give the Bonnies a 13-12 lead. Little did either team know, or expect, that to be the last time UTSA led, but that's exactly what transpired.

St. Bonaventure closed the half on an extended 21-4 run to open up a 28-16 halftime advantage. With the Bonnies looking to pull away early in the second half, the Roadrunners – who on Monday night defeated then 8-1 Kansas State by 17 points – opened the second stanza with a 14-1 run to get within one at 30-29 with 11:05 remaining. However, once again it was the St. Bonaventure defense that responded, holding UTSA to just two points over the next nine minutes, and when Jenkins hit her third and final 3 of the night, the Bonnies had built themselves an insurmountable 38-31 lead with 2:02 left.

"I really liked that our kids didn't get down on themselves when the offense wasn't flowing," head coach Jim Crowley said. "They kept defending and kept working together and stuck with it."

Jenkins' 3 with 2:02 left not only gave the Bonnies comfortable breathing room, but it also jumped her into sole possession of fourth place on the program's all-time 3-point list with 158 made 3's. The Marion, Ohio, native led all scorers with 15 points, her highest scoring output since she had 21 at Niagara on Nov. 24. Junior Megan Van Tatenhove, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, added 12 points for St. Bonaventure.

On the other side of the ball, fellow All-Tournament Team member Ashleigh Franklin led the UTSA attack with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Senior Amber Gregg was the lone other Roadrunner in double figures as she finished with 10.

For the second consecutive night, the Bona bench was key in the outcome of the game as Crowley played nine players who all finished with double-digit minutes. The main sparkplug was freshman Doris Ortega, who didn't score but was instrumental in the Bonnies' 30-28 rebounding margin, finishing with a career- and team-high seven caroms.

"Whenever you play in these short-turnaround situations, you have to have depth," Crowley stated. "The fact that we could go nine deep in both games really helps us when some people are struggling."

The 37 points is the fewest the Bonnies have held an opponent to since Fordham scored just 36 last year. After both teams shot above 40 percent from the field in the first half, St. Bonaventure shot 22.2 percent (4-18) in the second half, compared with 27.6 percent (8-29) for UTSA.

The Bonnies will have a brief break for the Christmas holiday before returning to action in exactly one week on Dec. 28 when they take on Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn.

Game Notes: Dixon's two 3-pointers is a career high … her older sister, Lorin, issued five assists and grabbed four rebounds in 22 minutes of action in UConn's record-setting 89th straight win Tuesday evening ... St. Bonaventure had 14 turnovers compared with 17 for UTSA … the Bonnies are now 6-0 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent … both teams finished with a higher 3-point shooting percentage than field-goal percentage … UTSA made zero free throws, the first time in school history that has happened … the Roadrunners' three free-throw attempts also ties a program record for fewest attempts in a game.