March 5, 2004
PHILADELPHIA - La Salle defeated St. Bonaventure 50-45 in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament on Friday afternoon at Alumni Fieldhouse on the campus of Saint Joseph's University.
La Salle led 24-23 at intermission, but the Bonnies went ahead 33-29 with 12:54 left on a layup by freshman forward Audrey Latendresse. Both teams' defenses dominated from there. It was still a four-point Bona lead with 10:27 to play when the Explorers went on a 7-2 run to regain the lead at 38-37 with 4:11 remaining.
St. Bonaventure junior guard Stefanie Collins tied the game at 42-42 on a three-pointer with 1:44 remaining, but La Salle scored the next five points to pull ahead for good. Jill Marano's two free throws put LaSalle ahead 47-42 with 43 seconds left.
Bonnies freshman guard Stephanie Merlo drained a three-pointer from the top of the key with 33 seconds left to pull the Bonnies within two at 47-45. After another Bonnies foul, Foley made one of two free throws to make it 48-45. On the ensuing possession, Collins turned the ball over. Marano then iced the win with two free throws with 12 seconds remaining.
Both La Salle and St. Bonaventure shot just 31 percent from the field, but the Explorers outscored Bona 13-5 at the free throw line. The Bonnies also had 18 turnovers while the Explorers committed just nine. La Salle made 13 of 20 free throws.
Kristen Rickets, the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, led La Salle with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Collins led the Bonnies with 21 points. She hit three of the Bonnies' four three-pointers. Senior forward Jade Humble had six points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Senior guard Lyndsey Maurer, who was averaging 9.5 points per game, was limited to three points on 1-7 shooting.
"I am proud of our kids ... they played their hearts out," said St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley. "Both teams went at it and battled. We did exactly what we needed to do defensively. We just missed shots when we had a chance to expand our lead and we didn't take care of the ball when we needed to. La Salle made a living at the free throw line."
St. Bonaventure ends its season at 9-19.
LaSalle improved to 15-12 and will face George Washington in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.