ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – After allowing Rhode Island (6-13, 0-5 Atlantic 10) to shoot 55 percent from the field in the first half Saturday afternoon, the St. Bonaventure (13-7, 3-2 A-10) defense shut the Rams down in the second half to the tune of 15-percent shooting, including not allowing the visitors to hit a field goal in the last 16:21 of the game, en route to a 66-52 win.
The 55 percent first-half shooting by URI represents the highest percent any opponent has shot against the Bonnies in the opening 20 minutes this year. However, St. Bonaventure used its conference-leading defense in the second frame to hold the Rams to just three made field goals, with the 15-percent shooting being the lowest it has held any opponent to in the second half this year.
After Rhode Island senior Megan Shoniker, a Rochester native, converted a lay-in with 16:21 left in the game to give the Rams their largest lead of the afternoon at 32-28, the Bonnies went into lockdown the rest of the way as the Rams converted all 20 of their remaining points from the free throw line.
"For us it wasn't even really about a tale of two halves but every 10 minutes," head coach Jim Crowley said. "The first 10 minutes of the game we were aggressive and built a lead and then the second 10 minutes we weren't, and the same thing in the second half. But we fixed it, and I was pleased with their response."
The Bonnies jumped out to a 12-2 lead at the 16:14 mark following a Chelsea Bowker 3-pointer, but Rhode Island was able to gradually trim its deficit and the two clubs went to the locker room tied for the first time at 26-26.
The Rams were the ones who came out of the gate fast to start the second frame in building that four-point not even four minutes into the half. From there, the two teams traded buckets, and runs.
With the game knotted at 36-36 with 11:53 to play, the Bonnies went on what looked to be a game-altering 10-0 run to stretch to a 46-36 lead with 9:27 left. However, the Rams countered that Bona punch with their own 10-0 run to tie the game for the fifth time in the half, 46-46, with 6:27 left on the clock. Finally, St. Bonaventure was able to put Rhode Island away with a game-closing 20-6 run.
Junior Megan Van Tatenhove led the Bonnies with 21 points, followed by 11 from classmate Jessica Jenkins and 10 from freshman Doris Ortega. For Van Tatenhove, she is now averaging 17.8 points per game in A-10 play, nearly four points better than her season average. Jenkins has been in double figures in eight of the last nine games, and Ortega reached double figures for the second time in her young career.
The unsung hero for the Bonnies was sophomore Alaina Walker, who matched up defensively with the A-10's second-leading scorer in Shoniker. Despite scoring 17 points, Walker held the Greece Arcadia product to three points below her season average, the fewest made field goals (three) in the last nine games and a season-low-tying one 3-pointer.
While locking down on Shoniker most of the afternoon, Walker was still able to finish with a game-high-tying eight rebounds, scoring eight points, tying a career high with five assists and establishing a career high with four steals.
The Bonnies will hit the road for their next A-10 game as they travel to Philadelphia to meet the Saint Joseph's Hawks on Wednesday evening at 7.
Game Notes: This is the first game of the year that St. Bonaventure has been tied at the half … Ortega scored all 10 of her points in the second half … Van Tatenhove has now had at least one assist in six straight games, setting a career high … junior Jennie Ashton converted a lay-up to give her 15 points on the year after scoring a combined 13 in her first two seasons … St. Bonaventure shot 50 percent from the field (25-50), its third time this year over the 50-percent mark … Rhode Island hit 22-24 free throw attempts, and only two of those attempts came in the first half … redshirt junior Armelia Horton finished with eight rebounds, her second-highest total of the year.