Friday, December 16, 2011

Walker’s Career Night Fuels Bona To 15th Straight Big 4 Win

St. Bonaventure University Athletic News
December 16, 2011
Watch the complete game

Junior Alaina Walker scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed a team-best six rebounds to lead the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team (9-1) to its 15th consecutive win over Big 4 rivals in a 63-49 victory against Niagara (3-8) Friday night.

Playing without their second-leading scorer (12.2) and rebounder (5.6), Megan Van Tatenhove, the Bonnies turned the ball over a season-low six times and never trailed en route to their 20th straight victory at home over Niagara.

Walker scored 12 of her 14 in the first half as part of a 54.2-percent (13-24) shooting performance in the opening 20 minutes by Bonaventure. Senior Jessica Jenkins scored a game-high 16 points behind 3-of-6 3-point shooting to aid in the SBU effort.

The Bonnies raced out to a 7-0 lead, but Niagara was able to chip away and tie the game at 11-11 before a Walker layup reclaimed the lead and spearheaded a 9-0 response by the Brown and White. That opened up a 20-11 cushion, and the Bonnies never led by fewer than three the rest of the night, expanding that cushion to as much as 20 in the second half.

Bona held a nine-point advantage at the half following a Chelsea Bowker 3-pointer just before the buzzer, but NU was able to trim that deficit to just six early in the second half. However, Bonaventure responded with an 8-0 run as it held Niagara without a point for five minutes. Six of those eight came from redshirt senior Armelia Horton, who started the run with a jumper in the paint and capped it with a pair of free throws.

The Bona defense held Niagara's leading scorer, Lauren Gatto, to just two points – eight below her season average. Meghan McGuinness scored a team-best 10 for the Purple Eagles, as the Bonnies held their fourth-straight opponent under 50 points.

The 9-1 record for St. Bonaventure is the second-best start to a campaign is program history. Only the 2009-10 squad, which began 11-0, commenced a season with a better mark.

Everyone on the Bona roster played, with the exception of Van Tatenhove, who had started in 58 straight contests for the Brown and White.

St. Bonaventure returns to action as it concludes a four-game homestand by hosting Marist Sunday. The Red Foxes went 31-3 last year – with one of those defeats coming at the hands of the Bonnies – and fell at Duke by just five points in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff between two of the best mid-major teams in the nation is set for Noon from the Reilly Center. It will be the first game of a doubleheader with the men's team.

GAME NOTES: Niagara scored just 21 second-half points, the fewest the Bonnies have allowed an opponent all year … 12 of the 15 straight Big 4 wins have come by double digits … Bowker (eight points) started in place of Van Tatenhove … NU held a 32-22 advantage on the glass … the Purple Eagles scored eight of the game's last 10 points … St. Bonaventure is the only team in the Atlantic 10 with nine wins … the streak of 15 straight wins over Big 4 schools is the longest by any team in history … Van Tatenhove, an elementary education major who is student-teaching at East View Elementary in Olean – had many of her second graders in attendance.

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