St. Bonaventure vs. Charlotte

ST. BONAVENTURE — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team outscored Charlotte by 20 points in the second half en route to an 81-62 opening-round WNIT victory Friday night in the Reilly Center before a season-high crowd of 1,680.

Bona (24-10) jumped ahead to a 16-4 lead early  as both Chelsea Bowker and Nyla Rueter connected from deep. However, the 49ers (15-16) fought back to cut the deficit to 17-14 after Ciara Gregory hit a jumper.

Katie Healy scored nine of the Bonnies’ final 10 points of the half, but Ny Hammonds helped Charlotte back into the game with eight points in the final five minutes and her jumper at the buzzer gave the 49ers a 26-25 advantage at halftime.

Healy picked up right where she left off to start the second half with a left-handed layup to start the scoring. Charlotte responded with a quick four points to go ahead 30-27. But freshman Imani Outlaw sank a layup while being fouled, missing the free throw.

Hannah Little then blocked a shot on the next possession and started a fast break. She converted a layup after a give-and-go with Outlaw. After another defensive stop, Outlaw found Little cutting for another layup, giving Bona a 33-30 lead which it never relinquished.

 Healy went to work again, scoring seven of nine for the Bonnies. Her old-fashioned three-point play gave Bona a 42-34 lead with 12:51 left.

“I made my first couple shots so I had confidence to shoot the ball,” the sophomore forward said after finishing with a career-high 28 points and completing the double-double with a dozen rebounds.

Much of the Bonnies second-half surge came from the running game.

“This group has that in them,” coach Jim Crowley said. “They’ve been very disciplined with execution, and it’s worked for us. As they’ve gotten to know each other better, they have the ability to go in transition that way.”

THE BONNIES followed that run with a 17-10 streak to end the game. Charlotte was held to 32 percent shooting in the second half while Bona shot 53 percent from the floor. The Bonnies also cut down on turnovers in the second half, giving it away just four times, after having nine before intermission.

“We defended much better in the second half. Once we got stops, we were able to get our engine going a little bit,” Crowley said.

After a subpar first half (four points, three boards, five turnovers), Little finished strong with 20 points and 15 rebounds. It was her 10th double-double on the year.

She became the first player in school history to record over 300 boards in a season, as well as setting the school record for rebounds in a postseason game.

“I just stopped thinking about it. The first half I was in my head. I was freaking myself out,” Little said.

Healy’s 28 points, also set a school record for a postseason game. She also had five assists.

“Everyone did their part. Nyla made shots, Emily (Michael) kept the tempo, Hannah went to the glass, Chelsea (Bowker) knocked down shots. That just gave me confidence. I think we all just took good shots,” Healy said.

CROWLEY acknowledged that the crowd played a part in the victory.

“I was really proud of our energy in the second half,” he said. “I certainly think the crowd had something to do with that. We talked at halftime about letting the crowd energize us.”

Hammonds finished with 23 points while Hillary Sigmon, with 15 points, was the only other 49er to finish in double figures.

Bona now moves onto the second round of the WNIT and will play at Bowling Green University on Monday night.


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