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Bonnies end skid in finale Earn 20th win against Charlotte

Within the confines of the St. Bonaventure women's basketball program, the past few weeks have been woefully disappointing.

It started with an overtime loss to Duquesne, followed by losses at George Washington and Saint Louis.

Suddenly, a team on the NCAA bubble had fallen to seventh place in the Atlantic 10.

But the tailspin stopped on Saturday afternoon, as the Bonnies gutted out 73-65 win over second-place Charlotte in front 721 in the Reilly Center.

"It's really fitting that this group won this game this way," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "The way we had to keep battling, that's what this group of seniors has done throughout their career. The fact that we had such a great lead and to fight back I think epitomizes who they are, what they stand for and what this program is about."

What this team is about is the first 20-win season in program history and first winning record in the A-10.

Getting to 20-9, 9-5 in the regular-season finale was a bit dramatic -- which is the fashion of a team that tends to grab big leads but fails to hold on.

The Bonnies led by as many as 19 in the first half, 31-12, had enjoyed a comfortable 33-18 halftime advantage.

But Charlotte (20-8, 11-3) started the second half on an 18-3 run, tying the game at 36-36 on a short jumper by Erin Floyd with 12:36 to play.

The 49ers never gained the lead, however and the Bonnies hit shots and rebounded well to grind out the win.

"It was a good game and it was good to get all of our frustration out," said junior forward Dana Mitchell who had a game-high 21 points. "It's great having that confidence back. Everyone has that confidence back. When it was tied at 36 we knew that we were going to win."

Frustration was high for the Bonnies during the three-game losing streak and with the A-10 Tournament beginning next Friday, the regular season was poised to end on sour note.

"I think people got caught up and so excited with what could happen that when we lost that game [to Duquesne] it was, oh, now we can't do it instead of looking at what we still could do," Crowley said.

"The Duquesne game rattled us and to see a group that had such a great belief all of a sudden wonder about that was troublesome for everyone. . . . To see us get back to who we are and passing the ball, working together. That's what I wanted to get out of today. The fact that we got the win, we'll take that, but we really wanted to get back to doing what it is that has made us successful as a program."

What makes them successful and a dangerous team heading into the A-10 tournament at Charlotte, is a good game plan and a deep, undersized bench.

The Bonnies aren't very big in the post, but they are athletic and have range. Everyone can score -- from seniors Katelyn Murray (14 points Saturday) and Erica Schiefen (11 points) to freshman Armelia Horton (nine points).

In Saturday's win, the Bonnies racked up 18 assists and though they committed 17 turnovers while having difficulty with the Charlotte press, generally did a good job taking care of the ball while defending with a passion.

"They're a difficult team to guard for us because we have size in the post and they're undersized," Charlotte coach Karen Aston said.

"They defend very well and they are very, very well-coached. They are always prepared."

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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