January 3, 2012

Women's Hoops Finishes Non-Conference Play with a Tough 67-63 Loss to St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, N.Y.—In a hard-fought game that featured nine lead changes and three ties, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team fell 67-63 to the now 13-2 St. Bonaventure Bonnies Tuesday afternoon at the Reilly Center. The Pioneers close the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 9-4 record. 

Despite Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, Calif.) knocking down a three-pointer to start the game, the Bonnies went on a 15-0 run to jump out to an early lead before the Pioneers could make another basket.

However, Sacred Heart climbed out of the hole behind a 25-4 run, beginning with a pair of made shots by senior Callan Taylor (Overland Park, Kan.) and one by junior Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, N.Y.) to decrease St. Bonaventure's lead to 18-10.

Enjoli Bland then added two to the SHU run with a pair of shots from the charity stripe. Taylor's trey and Gabrielle Washington's jumper capped off the Pioneers' 14-point run and brought them within one-point of catching the Bonnies.

Before the Pioneers tied it up , St. Bonaventure's Armelia Horton put in two free throws and Jessica Jenkins laid one in to make it 22-17. However, a combination of a layup by Morgan Merriman (Seattle, Wa.) and big three from Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, Va.) put the Pioneers ahead for the first time 24-22. The pair also kick started SHU on an 11-point run that forced St. Bonaventure into its second time out.

The run continued after the break with a layup from Bland, but the Bonnies made a comeback in the last three minutes of the half. Megan Van Tatenhove started it with a jumper, but it would be CeCe Dixon who would capitalize the most on her opportunities by putting eight points on the board, including back-to-back three-pointers to give the Bonnies a 32-30 lead with 55 seconds left.  However, the Pioneers went into halftime with a 34-32 lead after Taylor followed a Merriman field goal with a jumper just one second before the buzzer.

After trading possessions, Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, Va.), getting her first start of the season, picked up the first points of the second half.

Jenkins gave the Bonnies their first lead of the half by landing a shot from outside the arc. Walker added to that lead making it a 41-38 game.

Both teams battled, exchanging leads. With 10 minutes left to play, Dixon knocked down two shots from outside the arc to put the Bonnies up by eight and force the Pioneers into a time out. The Pioneers came out of the huddle strong with Washington and Taylor making three-pointers to bring the Pioneers within one with eight minutes left.

The teams exchanged points with Washington's lay-up bringing the Pioneers within four with 23.7 seconds left in the game. A pair of shots from the line for Walker made it 66-60 in favor of the Bonnies, but Sacred Heart answered with a three by Taylor off a sharp pass from Norman, keeping the Pioneers alive with 11.1 seconds left. However, that is as close as SHU would get after Horton hit a free throw and Van Tatenhove grabbed a rebound off her second free throw miss. 

For the second straight game, Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, Ariz.) put up career numbers. In today's loss, the sophomore pulled down 11 rebounds, surpassing her previous career-high of seven earlier this season in the win at Central Connecticut State.

Taylor continued to put up big numbers today. The forward picked up her eighth double-double of the season, putting 23 points on the board and grabbing 10 rebounds for her fifth 20-plus point game.

The Pioneers open conference play Saturday when they host Long Island University at 1:00 p.m.