ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Junior Jessica Jenkins hit a program-record nine 3-pointers, and sophomore Chelsea Bowker knocked down a career-high-tying five of her own as part of St. Bonaventure's (19-10, 9-5 Atlantic 10) 16 team 3-pointers Saturday afternoon en route to its fourth straight victory, a 80-65 decision over Charlotte (21-8, 9-5 A-10), on Senior Day.
The 16 St. Bonaventure 3-pointers are the most by any team in the A-10 this year, and the Bona win created a five-way tie for third place in the conference. The top four teams get first-round byes in next week's tournament; however, after tiebreakers the Bonnies are expected to receive the seventh seed and meet 10th-seeded Fordham in opening-round action Friday evening.
Jenkins's nine 3's and 33 points break career highs in both categories which she set in Bonaventure's last home game on Feb. 12 against Duquesne when she tallied eight and 31, respectively. The nine 3-pointers tied Jenkins for the most made in a single game by any Division I player this year. Bowker tied a career high for points with 21, and has now hit exactly five 3-pointers in a game this year on four different occasions.
Bonaventure put itself in position to get that top-four seed right from the outset against the 49ers. After Charlotte took a 2-0 lead, Jenkins responded with her first 3 of day just 12 seconds later to give the Bonnies a 3-2 advantage, and they never trailed again.
With the score at 13-8 and 14:55 remaining in the opening half, Jenkins and Bowker went on their own 12-0 run over the next five minutes to give the Brown and White a 17-point lead at 25-8 with 9:44 left. Jenkins opened the run with a 3, and the duo then traded buckets from beyond the arc until Bowker capped the stretch with Bonaventure's seventh 3-pointer of the opening 10 minutes and 15 seconds.
The 49ers responded a little later in the half with the score 27-14 as they rattled off 10 straight to cut the deficit to just three at 27-24. Bowker snapped that with a 3 from the right wing with 19 seconds left in the half, but a Kendria Holmes jumper with less than a second left before the break created the 30-26 halftime score.
Bowker opened the second-half scoring by knocking down her fourth 3-pointer of the afternoon to spearhead a 9-2 Bona start to the half. Leading by as much as 14, the Bonnies once again let Charlotte creep back, and on two occasions it got within two points. But each time Jenkins and Bowker, respectively, had an answer.
With the Bonnies clinging to a 56-54 lead with six minutes remaining, Jenkins hit a 3 to push the Bona advantage back to five. The 49ers answered with a Shannon McCallum 3-pointer from the top of arc, but Bowker responded right back on the Bonnies next offensive trip with a six-foot jumper from the right baseline. That gave St. Bonaventure a 61-57 lead with 4:44 left, and it only stretched it more the rest of the game as it closed the afternoon on an extended 21-8 run.
"I'm really, really proud of how we handled things," head coach Jim Crowley said in his opening statement following the win. "We came out shooting the ball very well, and fortunately we were able to continue that. But they made some really strong runs at us and we were able to show a lot of resiliency."
Junior Megan Van Tatenhove rounded out the trio of St. Bonaventure double-figure point scorers by tallying 16. That leaves her just two points shy of 1,000 for her career, as she will be looking to become the 17th member of that club in the team's next game.
For Charlotte, junior Epiphany Woodson came off the bench to finish with a team-high 19 points to lead a quartet of double-digit scorers. McCallum netted 14, sophomore Jennifer Hailey tallied 12 and senior Kendria Holmes scored 10.
After shooting 53.3 percent (8-15) from the 3-point line in the first half, the Bonnies only increased their shooting in the second frame by connecting on 57.1 percent (8-14) of their attempts. They shot 50 percent (25-50) from the field, marking just the third time this year they've shot higher than 50 percent.
What makes that percentage even more emphatic is that Charlotte entered the contest with the seventh-best field goal percentage defense in the entire nation, allowing its opponents to shoot 33.9 percent from the floor and just 28.7 percent from the 3-point line.
For the second straight year the Bonnies will head to the A-10 Championship riding a four-game winning streak. Opening-round play will begin on Friday from the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass, and full information on bracket breakdown and times will be released in the coming days.
Game Notes: The team honored seniors Amanda Johnson and Cara Gustafson prior to the game … Johnson made her first career start and recorded her first steal of the year on Charlotte's opening possession … the Bonnies scored 50 points in the second half, their most in any half since Feb. 8, 2007 at Saint Louis … Jenkins now has 92 3-pointers on the season, moving her into sole possession of second place on the program's single-season list … as a team, St. Bonaventure has hit 201 3's on the season, surpassing the 2008-09 club for the most in a single season in school history … the 16 3-pointers are two shy of tying the most in any Division I game this year … the win was the 19th of the season, the third-most in program history in a single year – the previous two years are the top two with 23 wins in both … the 80 points in a game is tied for the most this year, and most in the regulation 40 minutes … Bonaventure is now 15-3 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent as it committed just nine in comparison with Charlotte's 11.