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Bonnies Bounce Lehigh, Advance In WNIT To Face Syracuse

Bonnies Bounce Lehigh, Advance In WNIT To Face Syracuse

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.  – Jessica Jenkins hit five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points as St. Bonaventure (21-11) led from start to finish, securing a 77-43 win over Lehigh (21-11) in the First Round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday night.

With the win, the Bonnies advance to play at Syracuse in the Second Round on Monday evening at 7. The Orange (23-9) defeated Monmouth, 77-53, on Thursday evening.

The Bonnies advance to the Second Round for the third consecutive year, and did so by defeating the Mountain Hawks in convincing fashion. The 34-point win is Bonaventure's largest of the season, and largest in any of its six WNIT games.

St. Bonaventure was aggressive from the outset, as sophomore Alaina Walker drove to the basket on Bona's first possession, got fouled and hit one-of-two from the line. The Brown and White only increased its margin from there as it led 14-3 after five minutes and by as much as 20, 28-8, with 8:11 left in the half.

The Bonnies carried a 37-19 advantage to the halftime break – their largest of the season – and only increased it further in the second frame behind the long-distance shooting of Jenkins.

The junior guard extended the Bonnies to what was then their largest lead of the night at the 15:08 mark of the second half after hitting back-to-back 3's to stretch the Bona cushion to 25 at 52-27. From that point, head coach Jim Crowley was able to rest some of his regulars as nine players logged double-digit minutes and all 10 players who dressed saw game action.

Jenkins paced three double-digit scorers for the Bonnies as junior Megan Van Tatenhove finished with 12 and senior Cara Gustafson tallied 11, her highest since a 12-point performance Jan. 29 against Massachusetts. Jenkins now has 98 3-pointers on the year, one shy of tying the program's single-season record of 99 set by Suzie Dailer in the 1992-93 campaign.

Senior guard Erica Prosser led the Mountain Hawks with 16 points, while Kristen Dalton added 11 as the lone other Lehigh player in double figures. Prosser entered the night 13th in the nation in assists per game at 5.9, but managed just three against the Bonnies as they forced the Mountain Hawks into 16 turnovers compared with just nine assists.

St. Bonaventure locked down on the Patriot League's best offense, which came in averaging 65.3 points per outing, holding Lehigh to its second-lowest scoring output of the season. The Bonnies entered boasting the Atlantic 10's best defense at 55.3 points per game, and lived up to that as they held their sixth opponent of the year to fewer than 45 points. They also just missed holding their sixth opponent of the campaign to below 30-percent field-goal shooting, as the Mountain Hawks could muster just a 30.8-percent performance from the floor.

St. Bonaventure entered the game with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio despite having the nation's 11th best ball-protecting team. However, the Bonnies dished out 14 assists to go against just eight turnovers opposite the Mountain Hawks, led by a career-high six from Walker.

After having an early rebounding deficit, the Bonnies out-rebounded Lehigh by nine in the second half to gain a 42-32 rebounding edge for the game. Nearly a quarter of those came from redshirt junior Armelia Horton who pulled down a season-best and career-high-tying 10, as the Bonnies increased their record to 14-2 when out-caroming their opponent.

St. Bonaventure will look to extend that mark to 15-2 Monday when it battles Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The two clubs have not met in the Dome since the 2007-08 season when the Orange came away with a 72-57 victory. The Bonnies are 2-6 all-time against Syracuse, and this will be the third BIG EAST opponent they have faced in their seven WNIT games.

Game Notes: Walker added eight points, and sophomore Chelsea Bowker netted nine off the bench … rounding out the Bonaventure scoring were freshmen CeCe Dixon and Doris Ortega with four and six, respectively, five from Horton and two from junior Jennie Ashton … Lehigh's previous season-low point total was 38 against Connecticut, which was also its worst loss of the season (81-38) … 15 Lehigh players saw game action … the St. Bonaventure bench out-scored Lehigh's, 20-4.