Box Score (PDF)
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – In his post-game press conference, St. Bonaventure women's basketball head coach Jesse Fleming called the second half of Friday night's season-opening 76-58 victory over Niagara "fun."
That would be an understatement.
After trailing by 17 points late in the second quarter, St. Bonaventure (1-0) blitzed the Purple Eagles (0-1) out of the break and used a 34-4 explosion spanning the second and third periods to shellshock the visitors.
The third quarter was one that will be remembered for a long time around the Reilly Center. Consider: Niagara appeared in control after seizing a 35-18 advantage at the 3:53 mark of the second quarter. St. Bonaventure would finish the half on a 6-0 break, but still trailed by a 35-24 margin at halftime.
That merely set the stage for an all-around performance in the third stanza where the Bonnies did nearly everything right.
Sophomore Danielle Migliore and junior transfer Bree Paulson connected on back-to-back three-pointers on the first two possessions of the second half, setting the tone for what was to come. The Bonnies were on fire during the third period, sinking 12 of 14 shot attempts including eight of nine three-point tries. By the time the quarter was through, St. Bonaventure had tallied 34 points – the most for the program in a single quarter since the game shifted to a four-quarter format for the 2015-16 season.
When the third quarter ended, the Bonnies had captured a 58-43 lead – closing fittingly on another Migliore trey a second before the buzzer.
Migliore, who was making her first career start, led all scorers with a career-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting including 5-of-9 from long range. Many of her open looks came courtesy of senior Mariah Ruff, who dished out a career high 14 assists – a total that ties for second-highest in Bonnies single game history and represent the most by a Bona player since 1989.
Ruff also had perhaps the highlight of the game as she gave the Bonnies a lead they wouldn't relinquish. She tossed an inbound pass off the back of an unsuspecting Niagara defender to herself, racing behind the defense and finishing with a crowd-pleasing layup for a 40-39 score at the 5:39 mark of the third.
"My message at halftime was we were starting to do what we needed to do. We ended the second quarter very well," head coach Jesse Fleming said. "I told them to keep doing what they were doing. We were looking for too much of a perfect shot early in the first half. Luckily we caught lightning in a bottle and made a ton of 3s (in the third quarter)."
In all, three Bonnies reached double-figure scoring – Paulson shot 5-of-8 from the floor, sinking three treys of her own for 14 points while sophomore Jalisha Terry provided 13 points off the bench.
As the Bonnies were soaring offensively, the defense was keeping the Purple Eagles at bay. After shooting 50 percent from the floor during the first half, Niagara was limited to 32 percent after halftime.
"We've shown some really good things in all the live opportunities we've had," Fleming emphasized. "They're very dangerous when they're playing well and I'm so proud they got to display that in the second half."
All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason First Team selection Victoria Rampado finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds to lead Niagara.
St. Bonaventure has a quick turnaround as opening weekend continues Sunday afternoon with a matinee at Siena. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
GAME NOTES: St. Bonaventure won its 13th straight home opener and moved to 8-2 in season openers during the past decade … the Bonnies racked up 11 steals while Niagara had just one … Migliore's previous career high in scoring was eight points at Toledo last December and her most three-pointers in a game before Friday was two, also in that Toledo contest … the 11 three-pointers were the most in a game by the Bonnies since also hitting that total Jan. 3, 2016 at Rhode Island … junior Mckenna Maycock posted seven points and seven rebounds, leading the team on the boards … freshman Emily Calabrese earned the start in her first career collegiate game, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and a game-high four steals … the Bonnies have faced Niagara more than any other opponent with Friday's game marking the 61st meeting all-time. St. Bonaventure avenged a season-opening loss at NU last year and has won nine of the last 10 meetings.
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