SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Down 39-26 with 16 minutes left in the second half Wednesday afternoon, St. Bonaventure (18-10, 8-5 Atlantic 10) staged a furious comeback behind sophomore Chelsea Bowker and junior Megan Van Tatenhove to fend off a Saint Louis (7-21, 1-12 A-10) upset bid, 60-55.
Bowker scored all 12 of her points in the second half, and Van Tatenhove netted 12 of her game-high-tying 18 points in the second frame as the Bonnies erased their double-digit deficit. Bonaventure found itself down seven, 47-40, with 8:24 left, before it went on a game-altering 10-0 run.
Sophomore Alaina Walker started it with a driving, and-1 finish, Van Tatenhove followed with a baseline jumper, junior Armelia Horton converted a lay-in and Bowker capped the four-minute stretch with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Her first, and only, 3 of the afternoon gave the Bonnies their first lead since 2-0.
The teams then traded buckets, with SLU taking a one-point lead following a 4-0 rebuttal of the Bona run. Down 51-50 with 1:42 left, head coach Jim Crowley called a 30-second timeout, and on the ensuing play Bowker hit a slashing lay-in to put her team back in front, 52-51.
The Billikens responded with a lay-up at the other end, but then fouled junior Jessica Jenkins on the next defensive trip. The Ohio native calmly hit both free throws, and after a defensive stand by the Bonnies, Bowker hit yet another lay-in to give Bonaventure a 56-53 lead with 30 seconds remaining that it would not surrender.
The Billikens held a 29-20 halftime advantage due in large part to it second-highest first-half field goal percentage of the year, as they hit on 52 percent (13-25) of their shots. Twenty-one of those 29 points came in the paint, a total which was reserved in the deciding second half. The Bonnies held SLU to just eight points in the paint in the second half, while they tallied 20 of their season-high-tying 40 second half points in the paint.
Free throw shooting was also vital to the Bona comeback down the stretch as they went 10-10 from the line in the second half – the first time in A-10 play this year they have hit all their second-half free throw attempts. The Bonnies entered the game as the second-best free throw shooting team in the conference at 74.1 percent, but in league games only were second-to-last, converting just 67.5 percent of the time.
Jenkins finished the afternoon with 10 points and has now been in double-figure scoring 14 of the last 17 games. Horton grabbed a team-high six rebounds, while Van Tatenhove finished with five caroms and a team-best three assists.
For Saint Louis, senior guard Ayriell Robinson led the way with 18 points, while freshman Lorreal Jones recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. The Bonnies held the Billikens to just 31-percent (9-29) shooting in the second half after their torrid start.
The Bonnies entered the game in a five-way tie for fourth place in the A-10 standings, and with the win will at the very least keep pace with the other four teams in a race for the final first-round bye position for the upcoming A-10 Tournament.
The Bonnies return to action on Saturday looking to continue their push toward that first-round bye when they host Charlotte. Tip-off against the 49ers is set for 2 p.m. from the Reilly Center on Senior Day, and the game will be broadcast live by College Sports Regional.
Game Notes: The game started at noon as part of SLU's inaugural Kids' Day where elementary school children and their teachers were admitted free … Saint Louis held a 41-29 advantage on the glass … the Bonnies had fewer turnovers than the Billikens, 18-11, and are now 14-3 on the year when they do that … freshman Doris Ortega finished with seven points, Walker with five, Horton with four and senior Cara Gustafson and freshman CeCe Dixon with two each … freshman Ashley Capotosto did not dress to rest a knee injury … Gustafson and fellow senior Amanda Johnson received flowers prior to the game from two SLU players as part of the Billikens' Senior Day festivities.