Box Score (PDF)
AMHERST, Mass. – A strong fourth quarter from UMass pushed the Minutewomen past visiting St. Bonaventure, 69-60, on Saturday afternoon at the Mullins Center.
The Bonnies slip to 20-5 overall and 9-3 in Atlantic 10 play while UMass improves to 7-17, 1-11. While UMass had lost its first 11 A-10 games, eight of those came by single digits and the Minutewomen finally got over the top thanks to a trio of strong performances.
Cierra Dillard was a difference maker, registering a game-high 20 points. Teammate Kymber Hill chipped in with 14 points and Bria Stallworth had a standout game of 15 points and five assists.
The Minutewomen came out firing on all cylinders, scoring on five of their first six trips down the floor, opening a 16-11 advantage with 3:30 left in the opening period.
St. Bonaventure closed to a 16-15 score after the first 10 minutes, and grabbed a 17-16 lead on Imani Outlaw's jumper for the opening bucket of the second quarter. UMass ran ahead again, however, taking a 22-17 lead with 6:54 left in the half.
The Bonnies answered back, moving ahead 23-22 with Gabby Richmond's bucket off the right block at the five minute mark. The teams swapped the lead back and forth in the next two possessions following a one-hander from Cierra Dillard and a layup by Emily Michael.
A turn-around jumper from Miranda Drummond momentarily gave St. Bonaventure a three-point advantage, but UMass would send the teams to halftime separated by just a 29-28 margin. The Bonnies shot 50 percent overall from the floor during the opening 20 minutes, but languished from long range – shooting just 1-of-9 from the perimeter.
St. Bonaventure finally created some breathing room to open the third, opening a 13-4 run for its largest lead of the game, 42-32, following a trey from Rueter in front of her own bench with 4:53 left in the quarter.
UMass refused to go away, however, immediately embarking on a 7-0 break to pull within 42-39 before a pair of Healy free throws ended the run.
A foul call with less than a second remaining in the period allowed Dillard to sink three free throws and pull within 48-47 heading for the fourth.
A jumper from Healy gave St. Bona a 54-49 edge with 6:54 to play, but it would be the last surge from the Bonnies. Stallworth immediately answered with a layup, and with 3:53 left would move ahead on two at the line from the freshman.
A pull-up jumper at the free throw line from Mariah Ruff put the Bonnies back ahead, 56-55, but six unanswered points from the Minutewomen gave the hosts an advantage they never relinquished.
The Bonnies never heated up from long range, finishing 3-of-16 from beyond the arc while UMass was 3-of-15. The Minutewomen connected on 16-of-22 shots at the foul line while the Brown and White went 11-of-12 at the stripe.
St. Bonaventure returns home to take on first-place George Washington Wednesday night. Tipoff at the Reilly Center is slated for 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Healy breaks a tie for fifth place in the Bonnies all-time scoring record books, finishing the afternoon with 1,594 career points to surpass Missy Ward's 1,578 ... the Bonnies assisted on 20 of 23 baskets, led by five from Michael.