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Bona women top Saint Joseph’s for 18th win of season

St. Bonaventure got back on the winning side Wednesday night with a 65-51 Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball victory over Saint Joseph’s before 955 in the Reilly Center.

The Bonnies led virtually all the way in winning their 18th in 21 games and kept the heat on first-place George Washington in the A-10 standings. The Colonials (8-0 A-10) won their game at Davidson, 79-60, while Bona was improving to 7-1 in conference play and taking sole possession of second place for the time being. Saint Louis (6-1) and Duquesne (5-1) were idle Wednesday and will play Thursday night.

Eleven of the 12 players coach Jim Crowley used scored in what turned out to be a fairly routine victory over the Hawks (9-11, 3-5 A-10). It was unusual because Saint Joseph’s came in with a 19-5 record all-time in games at the Reilly Center.

Senior guard Nyla Rueter led the Bonnies with 16 points. She had eight of the points in the second quarter when Bona outscored the visitors, 21-9, to build a 14-point halftime lead. Rueter had six of her eight field goals attempts, including two of three from three-point range. Senior Katie Healy (Lancaster) had seven points and four rebounds in 30 minutes of playing time for the winners.

The Bonnies shot 49 percent from the floor (25-51) while limiting the Hawks to 35.8 percent shooting (19-53) and forcing 20 turnovers. St. Bonaventure had 17 turnovers itself.

Next for St. Bonaventure will be a 12:30 p.m. game on Sunday against Richmond at the Reilly Center.

Thursday’s games

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s tournament is more than a month away but now is the time for the Canisius and Niagara teams to try and build their record to avoid having to a play-in game on Thursday, March 3, to get into the final eight.

The winner of Thursday night’s game between the Griffs (8-11, 3-7 MAAC) and Purple Eagles (6-13, 4-6 MAAC) at the Gallagher Center in Lewiston will have some hope of cracking the top five in the conference standings. The loser faces an uphill fight even with eight more conference games left on the schedule.

Manhattan (5-4) is currently the fifth-place team in the MAAC women’s standings and the Jaspers are the team the second division teams must try to catch right now.

A full slate of five MAAC women’s games Thursday night also includes a battle between first place Siena (7-1) and arch-rival Marist (7-2) in Poughkeepsie.

Each side comes in on a losing streak. Niagara has lost its last two, Canisius its last three.

The game is part of the Battle of the Bridge all-sports competition between the schools. Canisius leads 9.5 to 4.5. Thursday’s game will be worth two points in the competition.

It will be the first taste of the Niagara-Canisius rivalry for Purple Eagles coach Jada Pierce. Terry Zeh of Canisius has an 18-8 career record against NU.

What success Niagara has is because senior Sam Lapszynski and sophomore Kaylee Stroemple have picked up some of the scoring slack lost when junior forward Victoria Rampado was lost for the season with a shoulder injury after just three games. Lapszynski is averaging 13.1 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Stroemple is at 11.5.

No Canisius player is scoring in double figures. Senior Crystal Porter (8.5) and sophomore guard Margret Halfdanardottir (8.8) have been the most effective offensive players. Porter also is second on the team in rebounds and assists.

On the men’s side in Big 4 basketball, Niagara (5-16, 3-7 MAAC) continues a stretch of three games in five nights when it faces Marist (4-14, 1-8 MAAC) in Poughkeepsie. The Purple Eagles will be trying to break a losing streak that reached four games with Tuesday night’s 82-70 home loss to Siena.

Marist, in its second season under coach Mike Maker, has lost eight in a row, seven of them MAAC games. The Red Foxes have not won since a double-overtime 84-83 victory over Brown on Dec. 22.

Matt Scott of Niagara scored a career-high 31 points in the loss to Siena. Marist has the MAAC scoring leader in junior guard Khallid Hart, who is averaging 22.5 ppg. That’s good for ninth in the nation. He also leads the conference in three-pointers and minutes. Freshman guard Brian Parker (16.9) is another potent scorer for the Red Foxes.

Last time Niagara and Marist met, the Red Foxes won, 63-61, at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie last February.