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Bona bows out gracefully
Rally falls short, ending season

The most decorated player in women's basketball history at St. Bonaventure notched another personal record on Monday night, but Dana Mitchell's career as a Bonnie came to an end in a 66-62 loss to Northwestern in the second round of the WNIT.

Mitchell became just the second player in Bona history to reach the 2,000 career point mark in front of 1,823 Reilly Center fans.

But that's little solace in the immediacy of the end of a postseason run for the Bonnies (23-10).

"You know me, I don't pay attention to that stuff," Mitchell said. "It's hard to say this, but in a way it's good to finish at home and see the support we've gained over the years -- just to know that we're out there playing our hardest with all those people supporting us."

The support was there and constant, but the Bona offense sputtered against a big, solid Northwestern team.

The teams went toe-to-toe for much of the game. The first half was a shooting exhibition, with both teams hitting high-percentage shots. A three-pointer by Jessica Jenkins of the Bonnies with five seconds left knotted the game, 31-31, at the break.

Then, Bona came out with a bundle of energy and sprinted out to an eight-point lead, 43-35, just 2:43 into the second half.

Northwestern kept it close and midway through the half began an 11-0 run that put the Wildcats up, 58-51, with 3:02 to play. The Bonnies made a valiant comeback effort, but the hole was too big for them to overcome.

"The simple version . . . is that it comes down to making shots and down the stretch they made shots," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "I thought early in the second half we did a nice job of moving the basketball and getting the shots we wanted. As the half went on, we got away from moving the ball."

The Bonnies had just 10 assists on 23 baskets -- getting deep into the shot clock or relying on individual efforts instead of reversing the ball.

Northwestern, meanwhile, had 19 assists on 23 buckets, paced by center Amy Jaeschke, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks.

"I thought our size eventually caught up and was the difference," Wildcats coach Joe McKeown said. "When we play well we share the basketball and we're a pretty good team and trying to get the inside-out and play off each other. Especially playing off Amy when they double team her."

Mitchell finished the game with 16 points to give her 2,011 for her Bona career. In many ways, Northwestern's McKeown was happy with holding Mitchell to 16 points. The former coach at George Washington remembers Mitchell well from her freshman and sophomore years and knew she would make the Bonnies a difficult out.

"My brother called me today and said I told you that you should have recruited that kid in high school," McKeown said. "I think she gets by so much on her basketball IQ and she sets [her teammates] up and gets people out of position. When I saw that banner [Mitchell's retired jersey number] up there, I thought it was a great tribute to her. She's had a great career."

Northwestern (18-14) continues to the third round of the WNIT, playing Michigan.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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