ALLEGANY – The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team capped a great regular season Sunday by scoring a 60-48 upset of Duquesne, the Atlantic 10 Conference’s top-ranked team.
The win improved the Bonnies to 23-6, the second-best regular-season record in their history. Bona finished 16-0 at home and 12-4 in the A-10, its second-best conference record ever.
The Bonnies, picked for ninth in preseason, finished fourth and had wrapped up a bye into the A-10 quarterfinals going into the game. They will play at 2 p.m. Friday in Richmond, Va.
Duquesne, which entered the game 22nd in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index, dropped to third place in the conference with the loss. The Dukes (25-4, 13-3) lost a tiebreaker in a three-way finish atop the A-10 with George Washington and Saint Louis.
If Bona hadn’t been upset by Fordham (13-15) and UMass (11-17) in the last two weeks, it would be sitting pretty for an NCAA at-large tournament berth.
Those losses probably will force the Bonnies to reach the A-10 title game to have any hope of an at-large berth.
“I think we’ve done enough that you can say we’re on the radar,” said Bona coach Jim Crowley. “Our last three home games we’ve beaten Saint Louis, GW and Duquesne. We have to figure out how to play really well away from this building. I think we’ve given ourselves a chance at least to control our own fate. But we can’t go lay an egg in Richmond.”
Bona entered Sunday 42nd in the RPI and will move up. The Bonnies are 3-2 against top-50 teams. Duquesne coach Dan Burt said he thinks only two A-10 teams will make the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m sure the A-10 isn’t going to be happy when they see me say that,” Burt said. “But the fact of the matter is we’ve been 38 in the RPI, and we’ve been low 40s in the RPI and we have not been able to get in. So I think it’d be very difficult, if not impossible. I really, really hope that I’m wrong.”
Senior Day: Bona senior forward Katie Healy, the Lancaster High product, scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. On the Bona all-time lists, the 6-foot-1 Healy stands No. 4 in points, No. 3 in rebounds, No. 1 in blocks, and No. 7 in field-goal percentage. Her 1,670 points stands 10th in Big 4 history. She’s the only A-10 player who ranks among the top 15 this season in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and field-goal percentage.
“This year we really put in the extra work, and my teammates really did a great job of buying in,” Healy said. “They played for the seniors. They wanted us to go out like this. That’s awesome our team is so together in that way. They want to win for us and we want to win for them.”
Starting guards Nyla Rueter and Emily Michael and backup guard Kelcie Rombach were the other seniors honored. Michael and Rombach each graduated a year early. Rueter finished her undergraduate degree in December. All four seniors are working on their master’s degrees. Healy, set to graduate this semester, is working on her master’s concurrently with her undergrad degree.
Fast start: Bona never trailed in the game and held a 30-14 lead at halftime. The Bonnies rank No. 2 in the A-10 in both points allowed and field-goal percentage allowed. They held the No. 1 ranked offense to 6-of-30 shooting in the first half. Bona ranks No. 1 in defensive rebounding. Duquesne managed to get a second shot on just 2 of 36 first-half possessions.
“We wanted to limit layups, dump-offs and rhythm threes,” Crowley said. “We didn’t allow them to get easy ones. We did a good job on the ball, and we really covered for one another. Then they missed some they probably normally make. That’s the ghosts of the Reilly Center, I guess.”
“Bonaventure does such a great job of defending 10 feet and in, that it’s very difficult to get layups and very difficult to get clean post touches,” Burt said.
Budding star: Bona sophomore guard Mariah Ruff had 18 points, five three-pointers and a career-high 13 rebounds. She also held Duquesne’s second-leading scorer, Deva’Nyar Workman, to three points. The 5-9 Ruff was Miss New York Basketball in 2014 for Oneonta High School.
Joked Crowley: “Mar’s a kid who can get in the paint and can knock down a shot and can defend. So I have to find some other things to get on her about.”
Key sequence: Duquesne pulled within 46-41 with 5:42 left. But Bona stopped the Dukes on four straight possessions and Ruff hit a three-pointer with 2:10 left. When the Dukes inbounded the ball, Healy drew a charge from guard April Robinson in the backcourt. Burt got a technical for arguing it.
Quotable: “There’s no shame in losing to Bonaventure,” Burt said. “That’s a heckuva basketball team coached by the best coach in this league.”
In the house: Attendance at the Reilly Center was 1,370.