ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Sophomore CeCe Dixon and junior Alaina Walker each finished with career-high 18-point performances as St. Bonaventure (13-2) defeated Sacred Heart (9-4) Tuesday afternoon, 67-63, for a program-record 13th non-conference victory.
In a game which featured seven scoring runs of 8-0 or larger, it was the Bonnies – behind Dixon – who made the final, game-deciding push. Trailing 46-45 with 12 minutes left, junior Chelsea Bowker converted a layup to put Bona in front, and then on consecutive possessions Dixon drilled 3-pointers to cap an 8-0 SBU which gave the Bonnies a 53-46 lead they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the afternoon.
The victory established the program record for regular season non-league wins for Bonaventure, as it was previously tied with the 2007-08 and 2009-10 squads.
As part of her scoring performance, Dixon knocked down a career-best four 3-pointers, one game removed from tallying a then-career-high three trifectas last time out against Norfolk State.
After Bona shot a season-high 52.4 percent from the floor in last year’s win over Sacred Heart, the Pioneers focused on the SBU perimeter game Tuesday, opening up driving lanes for Walker who carved her way to 14 second-half points.
Half of those points came from the free throw line as Walker finished the contest by tying a career high with eight made free throws (8-9).
Both St. Bonaventure (18th) and Sacred Heart (7th) entered the game in the top-20 nationally in free throw percentage, and that shooting kept the Bonnies alive, and the Pioneers at bay in the closing minutes. SBU finished 21-26 (80.8 percent) from the line on the day, including 6-8 in the final 1:20 of the game.
For the third consecutive game, sophomore Doris Ortega pulled down double-figure boards, finishing with 10 – a total matched by redshirt senior Armelia Horton, who tied a career high in that category. Horton also provided 10 points for her second career double-double, and first on the season.
Before fouling out in 25 minutes of action, senior Jessica Jenkins tallied 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
For the first time since Dec. 18 against Marist, Preseason First Team Atlantic 10 pick Megan Van Tatenhove played, providing 19 bench minutes for the Bonnies. Van Tatenhove – who has been suffering from concussion-like symptoms – scored just two points, but pulled down five rebounds and issued three assists, including the helper on the Bowker layup which gave SBU the lead for good.
SHU senior Callan Taylor led all scorers with 23 points – just the second opponent to score 20 or more points in a game against the Bonnies all year. Taylor also pulled down 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season.
After Sacred Heart hit a 3 on its first possession of the game, the Bonnies responded with a 15-0 run to jump in front by 12 not even five minutes into the contest. After the two clubs traded buckets, SHU responded with a 12-0 run to pull within one, 18-17.
That run was answered by a brief 4-0 stretch by the Brown and White before the Pioneers rattled off 13 straight to take their first lead of the afternoon and eventually jump in front by as much as eight, 30-22, with five minutes left in the opening half.
Fitting with the first-half script, Bona responded with a 10-0 run – fueled by eight points from Dixon – to reclaim the lead, 32-30, in the final minute. However, the theme continued in the final 60 seconds as SHU scored on each of its final two possessions to take a 34-32 lead into the halftime break.
St. Bonaventure returns to the Reilly Center on Saturday in a battle of two of the best teams in the A-10. The 13-2 Bonnies will host the 12-2 Duquesne Dukes as both squads commence league action in a 1 p.m. tip.
Game Notes: The 63 total points by the Pioneers are the most surrendered by the Brown and White this year … Taylor now has 46 career double-doubles, the most in the nation amongst current players … Van Tatenhove’s three assists were second on the Bona roster to the four served out by Horton … Bowker scored six points to complete the SBU scoring … Horton’s only other double-double came during a 12-point, 10-rebound performance against Richmond during the 2009-10 campaign … Van Tatenhove’s lone points came off a fadeaway jumper late in the shot clock which spearheaded the 10-0 Bona run late in the first half.