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St. Bonaventure women fall at Syracuse in WNIT

The disappointment will sting for a while and the outcome is still another early exit from the postseason.

But there were some impressive moments for St. Bonaventure in its 63-50 loss to Syracuse in Monday's second-round of the WNIT in front of 240 at the Carrier Dome.

The Orange (24-9) went up by 17 early in the second half, but the Bonnies found their fight, cutting the lead to just seven, 46-39 with 10:16 left to play.

Bona had a chance to cut the lead to five and seize momentum, but an errant inbounds pass turned into a fastbreak layup by Erica Morrow.

A miss by the Bonnies followed by an inside bucket from Kayla Alexander put the Orange back up double digits and they regained the ability to dictate the pace of play to earn the win.

"In the first half, we got stale and stood around and we didn't want to do that especially against their length and speed and size," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "We went back to attacking the gaps and spread them out. In that stretch, we made some shots. Their size over the next bit wore us down and to their credit, they made sure it did."

After a disappointing first half plagued with a lack of energy and focus, the Bonnies got back to the basics of what makes them effective as a team -- solid perimeter defense and good ball movement for quality shots.

Cheslea Bowker gave Bona a boost, scoring nine of her team-high 16 points in that second-half run.

"We had sparks where we played defense the way we're supposed to and that helped our offense rally," Bowker said.

"I had the mindset that I was playing for my seniors. I put it all out for them and it didn't matter what the scoreboard said."

Bona started the game going punch for punch with the Orange, but Syracuse used a 12-0 run to take control of the game, grabbing a number of their points at the free-throw line after aggressively hitting the offensive boards.

The Orange had a 32-20 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a rebounding advantage and offensive putbacks from Iasia Hemingway (14 points, 17 rebounds).

The Bonnies had trouble with their perimeter offense, shooting 31.8 percent (7 for 22) from the three-point arc.
"One thing we wanted to do was limit their three-point shots that were in the flow of their offense and I think we did that," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "I have to say they didn't shoot the ball like they normally do. We knew if we could get the ball into the paint, we'd have an advantage in that area."

The loss ended St. Bonaventure's season at 21-12.

It marked the third straight 20-win season for the Bonnies and third straight WNIT appearance -- an unprecedented run for any Big 4 women's team in the Division I era.

And while the Bonnies lose senior Cara Gustafson, who was an effective sixth-player while starting eight games, the rest of the team returns.

Junior forward Megan Van Tatenhove, who had 12 points and seven rebounds, and junior guard Jessica Jenkins, whose two three-pointers gave her 100 to set the single-season record, will both be back.

"We can't sit on our butts," Crowley said. "Paper doesn't do anything for us. We've got to work and we have to add a few more pieces to the puzzle.

"It has to be a full-time commitment and full-time dedication to what we need to get better at. We have a chance [to do well next year] but that doesn't mean anything. You have to do it."

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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