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Bona Opens First NCAA Tournament Sunday Against FGCU

Bona Opens First NCAA Tournament Sunday Against FGCU

No. 5 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast
Sunday, March 18 | 2:30 PM | Tallahassee, Fla.
ESPN2 | ESPN3.com

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The No. 21/25 ranked and 5th-seeded St. Bonaventure women's basketball team will make its first NCAA Tournament appearance on Sunday afternoon when it takes to the court against fellow first-time participant and 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.

Tourney Breakdown: The meeting is the first between the two schools … Bonaventure went 5-2 versus teams which made the tournament field, defeating St. John's, West Virginia, Marist, Sacred Heart and Dayton; the Bonnies also lost to the Flyers in the Atlantic 10 Championship title game and dropped a 12-point decision to Delaware in the regular season while missing starting point guard Armelia Horton to injury … Albany is the lone other team making its initial appearance in the Big Dance.

St. Bonaventure will be looking to bounce back from a three-point loss to Dayton in the aforementioned A-10 title game. After getting down by 22 points – their largest deficit of the season – the Bonnies bounced back and took a lead with two minutes to play before a last-second, contested 3-pointer from Jessica Jenkins went off the back rim.

The Eagles – in their first year of eligibility for the Division I tournament – claimed the Atlantic Sun Championship and have won 21 games in a row. The only common opponent both teams share is Richmond. FGCU defeated the Spiders, 81-67, while Bona also handled its A-10 foe, 75-59.

FGCU leads the nation in 3-pointers made per game, hitting an average of 10.8. The most 3's the Bonnies have allowed in a game this year is 10 in a win against Sacred Heart. Florida Gulf Coast ranks in the top-10 in the nation in seven different statistical categories, and in the top-25 in 13 categories. Both SBU and FGCU are in the top-10 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage as the Eagles are sixth at 37.3 and the Bonnies are eighth at 37.1. Both clubs are also in the top-10 in fewest turnovers per game as Bona leads the nation at 11.9, while Gulf Coast is 10th at 13.5.

The game also features the nation's two best 3-point shooters. Bona senior Jessica Jenkins currently leads all active players in Division I with 331 career 3's, including a program single-season record 103 this year. FGCU senior Kelsey Jacobson ranks second among active players with 329 career 3-pointers, including 80 this season. Both sharpshooters have nearly the same exact percentage from long range as well, with Jenkins (39.8) having a slight edge over Jacobson (39.1).

Florida Gulf Coast averages 74.7 points per game to rank 14th nationally in that category. St. Bonaventure, which checks in with the nation's 20th-best defense (53.1 points per game) has not allowed an opponent to score 70 points in a game all year. In their only two losses (69-64 versus N.C. State and 57-51 at Seton Hall), the Eagles failed to score 70 points. Over the last 98 games – since the start of the 2009-10 season – the Bonnies have allowed 70 points in a game just seven times.

With a win, the Bonnies will advance to play the winner of No. 4 Georgia and No. 13 Marist on Tuesday in the Second Round. Bonaventure and Marist met earlier this year, with SBU claiming a 67-56 win. The all-time series between the two New York schools is tied at 3-3. The Brown and White and Georgia have never met. However, the Bulldogs have been to the NCAA Tournament 29 times – the second most all-time behind only Tennessee's 31 appearances. UGA has made 18 straight trips to the tournament, while Marist has been seven straight seasons.

While the Bona women will be playing on Florida State's home court, the Bona men played the Florida State men in Nashville in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in a 3-14 matchup after SBU won the A-10 Championship last Sunday.