Bonnies finish off perfection

Courtesy SBU Athletics

 KINGSTON, R.I. – No. 19/22 St. Bonaventure (27-2, 14-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) became just the seventh team in A-10 history to complete a perfect conference regular season with a 58-32 win over host Rhode Island (1-28, 0-14 A-10) Saturday afternoon at the Ryan Center.

Bona, which clinched the No. 1 seed with a victory over Fordham on Wednesday, will play the winner of the 8-9 game in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Buick A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship on Saturday, March 3 at Noon. By virtue of being one of the top-four teams in the A-10, the Bonnies received a bye out of Friday’s first-round games. La Salle is locked into the No. 8 seed, but the No. 9 seed will not be determined until Sunday.

The 32 points by URI are the fewest the Bonnies have allowed in the Division-I era (1986-87), as they limited the Rams to just 20.8-percent shooting from the floor (11-53).

Senior Megan Van Tatenhove led all scorers with 17 points, while sophomore CeCe Dixon reached double figures for the 11th time this year with 10 points and a season-high-tying six rebounds.

The Brown and White raced out to a 13-0 start – capped by a Dixon drive – and held Rhody without a point for the first nine minutes of the game. The margin eventually swelled to 15, 17-2, following a Dixon 3-pointer from the left baseline before a 7-0 URI run trimmed the advantage to just eight.

After the Rams cut their deficit to 11, 30-19, early in the second half, SBU responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of free throws from redshirt senior Armelia Horton. The lead grew even larger with the addition of reserve Ashley Zahn after the sophomore hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to create a 44-22 lead. Those 3’s started a 10-0 Bona run, and the lead blossomed to 30, 56-26, following a Jordan McGee spinning jumper in the lane.

The Bona bench provided 28 points, the most since a 33-point performance on Dec. 10 against Buffalo. Leading that charge was Dixon, but junior Chelsea Bowker, who hit a pair of 3’s, added eight points, while Zahn chipped in with six and senior Jennie Ashton and junior Jordan McGee contributed two each.

The victory completes a perfect regular-season road record for the Bonnies at 13-0. The club entered with the best road record in the nation, and is one of just three unbeatens in the country (No. 1 Baylor – 9-0; No. 12 Green Bay – 12-0).

St. Bonaventure (enrollment: 2,000; Olean population: 14,000) becomes the smallest school in conference history to run the regular-season league slate, joining Xavier (enrollment: 7,000; Cincinnati population: 297,000), George Washington (enrollment: 20,000; Washington, D.C. population: 618,000), Temple (enrollment: 37,000; Philadelphia population: 1.5 million) and former league member West Virginia (enrollment: 29,000; Morgantown population: 30,000). Both Xavier and GW have each completed perfect conference schedules twice.

Game Notes: Leading scorer Jessica Jenkins (14.8 per game) was held to just two points and she attempted just five shots … despite 12 offensive rebounds, the Rams were unable to convert any second-chance points … all 11 Bonnies played … Dixon reached double-figure scoring just once last year … Rhode Island missed its first 12 shots of the game … the game was the second half of a doubleheader with the Rhode Island men, who defeated Saint Louis on a last-second shot … URI honored Bona’s four seniors prior to the tip, in addition to three of its own … Rhode Island’s first points came on an Emilie Cloutier layup at the 10:56 mark of the first half.

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