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Bonnies Fall Just Short In Upset Bid Of No. 6/7 West Virginia

Bonnies Fall Just Short In Upset Bid Of No. 6/7 West Virginia

ST. BONAVENUTRE, N.Y. – The women's basketball team (9-5) led for the majority of the game, but 47 second-half points by No. 6/7 West Virginia (13-0) was too much for the Bonnies to overcome as the Mountaineers kept their record unblemished with a 62-53 win Thursday night in the Reilly Center.

The Bonnies jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead to start, and held the WVU offense – which averages 70.1 points per game – scoreless for nearly the first seven minutes of the game. The Brown and White led by eight on three different occasions in the first half, marking the largest deficit the Mountaineers had faced all year. They then faced another first on the year when they trailed at halftime, 20-15.

The Mountaineers shot just 18.2 percent (4-22) in the first half, but the second half was a different story as they started to establish their athleticism in the low blocks. WVU used a 8-0 run early in the second half to take its first lead of the game, 28-25, at the 15:35 mark. Unfazed, the Bonnies responded with a Cara Gustafson 3-pointer from the right baseline to knot the game for the first time at 28-28.

But West Virginia answered right back with a game-changing 6-0 stretch, and the Bonnies never again led. After freshman Doris Ortega's lay-in at the 4:57 mark pulled St. Bonaventure within one at 50-49, First Team BIG EAST member Liz Repella hit two straight 3's as part of her game-high 20-point night to start a 10-0 run to pull away for good from the upset-minded Bonnies.

"For the most part, we made them work; I asked our kids to not back down and play together, and they did that," head coach Jim Crowley said. "We had a couple stretches in the second half that really changed the game. They're an elite-level team, and we're close to getting there. That's what we have to keep pushing toward."

Heading into the contest, both teams knew scoring would be difficult both ways as the Mountaineers came in allowing opponents to score just 46.7 a game, with the Bonnies allowing just 51.7. Both of those rank in the top 15 in the nation, and looked for sure to be lowered after the first 20 minutes until WVU's 47-point second-half outburst, the most points given up by the Bonnies in any half this year. The Mountaineers also blitzed a Bona defense that was holding opposing offenses to 35.8 percent shooting to the tune of 66.7 percent in the second half, the highest percentage by any opponent this year.

The Bonnies were able to hang tough despite leading scorer Megan Van Tatenhove being shut out from the field for the first time since her freshman year, and scoring a season-low six points. The Preseason Third Team Atlantic 10 member went 0-9 from the floor, but was picked up by classmate Armelia Horton who finished with a team-high 11 points. Jessica Jenkins was the lone other Bonnie to get into double figures as she finished with 10.

Sophomore Chelsea Bowker fell two points shy of her first career double-double, but did grab a career-best 10 rebounds to help aid the Bonnies' 38-30 rebounding edge. That eight-carom differential is the largest the Mountaineers have been out-rebounded by all year.

Asya Bussie joined Repella as the only other Mountaineer in double-figure points with 13, and senior Sarah Miles – who was listed as out for tonight's game with a hyper-extended knee – scored nine points and issued a season-high seven assists off the bench in her first action since Nov. 27.

The Bonnies will have another quick turnaround in preparation for their final non-conference game on Sunday against Kent State. With a win, St. Bonaventure will solidify its fifth straight year of double-digits non-conference victories. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m.

Game Notes: The Bonnies committed 21 turnovers to West Virginia's 16 and have now had more giveaways than their opponents in all five of their losses … WVU is the highest-ranked opponent the Bonnies have ever played in the Reilly Center … the Mountaineers are just the third team St. Bonaventure has allowed to score more than 60 points this year … West Virginia still has not allowed an opponent to reach 60 points.