St. Bonaventure’s imposing winning streak, which began when Katie Healy was just preparing for high school, appeared in jeopardy with six minutes remaining in regulation against the University at Buffalo.
Down by 57-47 and their 20-game winning streak over Big 4 opponents on the line, the Bonnies stormed back with a 14-4 run to send the game into overtime. From there Healy, the sophomore forward from Lancaster, scored eight of her 21 points in the extra session as the Bonnies continued their success in the Big 4 with a 76-71 victory against UB in front of 321 Tuesday at the Reilly Center.
St. Bonaventure’s Chelsea Bowker led all scorers with a career best 24 points, including 6 of 11 from long range. The Bulls’ harassing zone defense forced the Bonnies (9-4) into 21 turnovers while UB gobbled up 14 steals but the Bonnies got defensive stops in crunch time to rally from behind.
St. Bonaventure last lost in the Big 4 era on Nov. 19, 2006 when UB won, 67-59, but Tuesday’s win stretched its winning streak to 21 games.
“That was a battle,” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley said. “I’m not sure it was a well-played game but it was a very intense game.”
Indeed it was physical with a March feel to it. Healy, who scored 19 points after sitting out much of the first half in foul trouble, was popped in the nose while fighting for a rebound in overtime and drew blood. She returned after leaving the game briefly and did her postgame interview with tissue stuffed in her left nostril.
“We really wanted to win and as the game went on and got more intense I think we really came at them but we also let them come at us,” said Healy, who added nine rebounds. “But we kept coming.”
With UB leading, 61-59, in regulation, Mackenzie Loesing, who scored 20 points, twisted her ankle trying to make a move to the basket. She sat out the remainder of regulation and didn’t re-enter the game until 3:47 left in overtime when the momentum had clearly shifted to the Bonnies.
Different outcome if Loesing doesn’t suffer an injury?
“No excuses,” UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.
Said Loesing: “I believe that we are the better team and I know that the next time we meet St. Bonaventure the result won’t be what it was today.”
While giving St. Bonaventure credit for the victory, Legette-Jack mentioned the disparity in free throw attempts (37-22 for St. Bonaventure) although the Bonnies didn’t cash in as much as they needed to (19 of 37). After Bowker was fouled and sent to the line, Legette-Jack was hit with a technical foul with 40.7 seconds left and Bowker made just 1 of 4 from the line.
“It’s very hard to guard the free-throw line,” Legette-Jack said. “That’s the piece that really baffles me. Nineteen points from the free-throw line is an interesting stat when you shoot 37 times.”
In regulation, Healy brought the Bonnies within two points at 61-59 with 1:13 left in regulation, then assisted on Hannah Little’s game-tying bucket with 45 seconds left. After UB’s Margeaux Gupilan missed a jumper, the Bonnies rebounded and worked the ball inside to Healy, who missed a shot.
UB rebounded and called time out with 0.8 seconds left. On the in-bounds play, Bowker tipped the ball and it landed into the hands of UB’s Jenna Rickan, who just missed the potential game-winning basket on a bank shot.
The Bonnies never trailed in overtime. The Bulls (5-4) got as close as three points with eight seconds remaining in overtime, but Nyla Rueter iced the game with a pair of free throws.
“We knew what we had to do and we battled back so hard that we really wanted the win and we knew we could score and get stops,” Healy said. “It came down to the fact that we wanted it more.”