Box Score (PDF)
RICHMOND, Va. – Cold shooting created a deep hole that the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team nearly fought out of in Friday afternoon's Atlantic 10 quarterfinal, but VCU answered a late Bonnies rally by pulling away for a 59-50 victory inside the Richmond Coliseum.
The fifth-seeded Rams, who defeated Richmond in the second round on Thursday, improve to 23-8. Fourth-seeded St. Bonaventure falls to 23-7.
Miranda Drummond led all scorers with 13 points, adding six rebounds. Emily Michael tallied a season-best 12 points along with four rebounds and three steals. Mariah Ruff registered 10 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists.
For VCU, Ashley Pegram recorded 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench as the Rams distributed their offense evenly amongst nine players who found their way into the scoring column.
"I thought we fought really hard in the second half," Bonnies head coach Jim Crowley said. "We just couldn't get over the hump."
VCU held all the momentum at halftime, heading to the locker room with a 29-15 lead following five points in nine seconds from Isis Thorpe including a three just before the buzzer. During the opening half, the Bonnies went just 6-of-26 from the floor.
St. Bonaventure found some of the fight that it has shown throughout the season early in the second half. The Bonnies opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but leading scorer Katie Healy was forced to the bench with her third foul with Bona trailing, 31-23, at the 6:59 mark of the period.
VCU pushed its lead back out to 42-29 with just over a minute left in the quarter, but the Bonnies would not go away as Michael drained a corner three to pull within 44-34.
Michael's trey helped ignite a 14-4 run from the Brown and White. Ruff began the fourth quarter with a three of her own, then Nyla Rueter drove the lane for the lay-in and drew the foul, completing a traditional three-point play for a 46-40 score and still 8:33 left.
A free throw from Ruff made it 46-41 at the 7:43 mark, but the offenses went silent for over the next two minutes. Then, Healy was whistled for an offensive foul and again went to the bench with four fouls and 5:36 remaining.
The Bonnies kept chipping away – a put-back from Drummond brought Bona within 46-43 and 5:01 to go, the closest gap since the early first quarter.
It would be as close as St. Bonaventure could get, however.
Following a timeout, the Rams created a good look underneath for Ashley Pegram who missed the layup, but got her own rebound and followed with a bucket.
The teams exchanged missed jumpers, but another layup from Curteeona Brelove at the 3:49 mark pushed the lead to 50-43. The Rams eventually finished off a 9-0 run before another three from Michael ended the drought.
By that point, however, VCU's lead was still 55-46 and just 59 seconds to play. Forced to extend the game by sending the Rams to the line, VCU didn't falter and Bonaventure never threatened further.
It was a sluggish start for both sides – the Bonnies held VCU without a field goal for the first 5:04 of the game, but could not take much of an advantage with just a four-point lead.
Drummond delivered a layup off a behind-the-back pass from Ruff and a 6-2 advantage.
The Bonnies would struggle to find success the rest of the half as Drummond's bucket would be the last of the quarter. VCU launched an 11-0 run as the Bonnies went scoreless over the final 5:54 of the first period.
Rueter banked home a three at the 8:42 mark of the second to snap the long drought, bringing the score to 17-10. Ruff later drove the lane and fought for a bucket and the foul, pulling within 19-13.
St. Bonaventure would then go without scoring for another 4:58, but VCU had a scoring lapse of 3:54 as well.
The Rams finished the half on a 10-2 break, however, with Thorpe's back-to-back buckets sandwiching a Bonnies turnover and adding the VCU exclamation mark before halftime.
Healy added seven points, four rebounds, four blocks and three steals but was limited to 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
"We settled for some jump shots and it is disappointing," Crowley said. "The credit goes to VCU and the game that they played."
The Bonnies will now await word on a potential postseason bid.
GAME NOTES: VCU is the only team in the Atlantic 10 that St. Bonaventure did not beat this season, also dropping a 52-47 decision at VCU last month. The Bonnies are 0-5 against the Rams all-time … St. Bonaventure shot 29.5 percent for the game. VCU finished at 38.6 percent for the day (22-57) … VCU won the battle of the boards by a 48-38 margin … VCU advances to play top-seeded George Washington, a winner over George Mason earlier in the day, in Saturday's semifinals.
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