Box Score (PDF)
ORLANDO – St. Bonaventure started fast and withstood multiple runs from Austin Peay on the way to a thrilling 58-57 victory Saturday afternoon in the opening game of the UCF Thanksgiving Classic.
Junior Mariah Ruff filled the stat sheet with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds while graduate student Gabby Richmond added 11 points. Freshman Jalisha Terry posted a career-best 10 points and six rebounds while junior Matea Britvar registered eight points and six rebounds for the Brown and White. Another freshman, Sarah Hart also had a standout game with eight points and 10 rebounds.
St. Bonaventure improves to 2-3 on the season while Austin Peay falls to 4-2.
Bona never trailed in the game, but had to hold on after building a 19-point first half lead.
Dealing with foul trouble in the second half with four fouls apiece on Britvar and Richmond, the Bonnies held a three-point lead with seven and a half minutes to play. A basket from Terry and a three-pointer from fellow freshman Danielle Migliore made it a 48-40 game at the 7:03 mark of the fourth, but back-to-back threes from AP's Bri Williams brought it back to a one possession game.
With another three from the Governors bringing it to a 50-49 score and 2:55 to go, Ruff answered with a trey of her own. The back-and-forth continued with a shot from long range from Sydney Gooch, but with 1:20 remaining Hart drove the lane for a 55-52 Bonnies lead.
A missed three on the other end and a defensive rebound by Mckenna Maycock gave the ball back to the Bonnies, and Terry went to the line following a Governors foul. The first-year point guard calmly knocked down both shots as the Bonnies' lead would never drop below two possessions again until the Govs hit a trey as the buzzer sounded.
The first half saw impressive runs from both teams. St. Bonaventure opened with an offensive explosion, starting the game on a 19-5 break. The Bonnies connected on 10 of their first 15 field goal attempts during a productive first quarter, taking a 22-7 advantage at the end of 10 minutes.
Bona stretched its lead to 26-7 following a layup from Richmond with 7:54 left in the first half. Austin Peay found its footing after that, however, with a sprint of its own.
The Governors embarked on a 15-2 run to get back into the game, closing to just a 28-22 deficit with 91 seconds left in the half. A Ruff jumper ended the Bonnies drought, and the Brown and White would take a 30-23 advantage into intermission.
An up-and-under bucket from Hart followed by a three by Ruff to begin the second half moved the Bonnies' lead back to double digits at 35-23, but another 9-0 run from the Govs brought the difference back to 35-32 with 3:23 left in the third.
Both teams exchanged buckets as the period ended, leaving a four-point spread heading for the fourth.
Bona did an excellent job of denying the post to Peay leading scorer Tearra Banks who entered the game averaging over 17 points per game and was coming off a 34-point outing last week vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The senior center mustered just two points against the Bonnies defense, however.
Gooch and Williams led Austin Peay with 13 points each.
Next up for the Bonnies is a Sunday afternoon date with Rider with tipoff from the CFE Arena slated for noon.
GAME NOTES: Saturday marked the first meeting against Austin Peay for the Bonnies all-time. SBU had not faced any current member of the Ohio Valley Conference until Saturday's game … Saturday was the first game in Florida for the Bonnies since a 2012 NCAA Second Round win over Marist in Tallahassee to advance to the Sweet 16 … the Bonnies improved to 65-4 when leading under four minutes to play since 2008-09 … Ruff's seven assists matched her career high and mark the third time she has reached the total, with the last coming vs. Colgate earlier this month … Terry's six rebounds and 34 minutes of action were also career highs … Bona led the battle of the boards by a 39-33 margin with Hart pulling down a career high 10 rebounds to pace all players … SBU outscored AP in the paint, 30-10 .. Saturday was a homecoming for Britvar who is a native of Orlando … Bona assisted 16 of its 23 made baskets and shot 45 percent from the floor (23-51) ... it was just the second win all-time for the Bonnies over a team from the state of Tennessee.
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