Dayton 56, No. 16 St. Bonaventure 53
St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley rattled off a list of
impressive credentials racked up by his team and stopped on the
biggest one of them all: 29 wins, 3 losses.
”Absurd is the only word I can come up with,” to describe the
record, he said.
It’s the same way he would describe it if the Bonnies were left
out of the NCAA tournament. With a chance to take the guesswork out
of a tourney bid, the Bonnies didn’t have enough to complete a
Justine Raterman scored 13 points and Dayton rebounded after
squandering a 22-point lead to beat No. 16 St. Bonaventure 56-53 on
Monday to win the A-10 tournament championship and clinch a bid to
the NCAA tournament.
The Bonnies (29-3) had their 18-game winning streak snapped and
must wait for an at-large bid for the program’s first spot in the
”Hopefully we’ve done enough to get in, but we eliminated the
guarantee of that,” Crowley said.
St. Bonaventure stormed back from the whopping first-half hole
to lead 51-50. Patrice Lalor got it right back for Dayton with a
pair of free throws and Andrea Hoover’s driving layup with 25
seconds left made it 54-51.
Jessica Jenkins’ 3 at the buzzer was off the mark for the
Bonnies, and Dayton could exhale. The Bonnies shot 33 percent from
”It was a just a day where the ball didn’t drop like it
normally does,” Crowley said.
The Flyers (23-6) dominated early and didn’t trail until the
final minutes. The Flyers, playing in their second straight A-10
title game, earned at-large berths to the NCAA tournament each of
the last two seasons. They don’t need one this year.
Led by a senior class that never got rattled even as the lead
evaporated, Dayton found a way to gut out a win against one of the
hottest teams in hoops. Long after the title was secured, the
Flyers took turns posing with their families and the championship
trophy – a first for coach Jim Jabir in nine seasons at Dayton.
”This is huge,” Raterman said. ”Ever since I got here, it’s
been on our list of goals as a program. We’ve been taking steps
every single year for something like this. To finally reach that,
it’s not even real yet.”
Believe it, Dayton.
Doris Ortega had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Bonnies, who
missed nine of 13 3-point attempts and squashed their chance at
relaxing during the selection show. Even with the loss, the
Bonnies, and possibly Temple, should join Dayton in the field.
After their incredible start, the Flyers cooled considerably,
and a mostly pro-St. Bonaventure crowd on Saint Joseph’s campus
went wild with each big bucket. Jenkins’ 3 with 4:43 left cut
Dayton’s lead to 45-40 and Megan Van Tatenhove hit a jumper to make
it a one-point game.
Alaina Walker completed the grueling comeback with two free
throws with 2:16 remaining that gave the Bonnies their first lead
of the game, 51-50.
Lalor, who scored 11 points, sank two free throws and the Flyers
regained the lead. Hoover sealed it with the layup and Dayton was
on its way toward the title.
The Flyers came out playing like the nationally ranked team with
a bid all but wrapped up. Dayton huddled on the court after pregame
introductions, shared a few laughs and high-fives, then started
firing. Hoover opened with a 3-pointer and Raterman hit a 3 to make
it 9-2. Elle Queen stole an in-bounds pass, one of St.
Bonaventure’s 12 first-half turnovers, that led to a layup by
Raterman and it was 20-5 – the Flyers would lead by 22.
Dayton started 11 of 22 and 4 of 8 from 3-point range, while the
Bonnies missed 14 of 17 and all five 3s.
The Bonnies regrouped and closed the half on a 12-2 run that
pulled them to 27-17 at halftime.
Still, it was a stunning 20 minutes for a team that hadn’t
trailed for a single second in either of their first two tournament
”We just started out tight,” Tatenhove said. ”Big game
situation. Being on TV as well. We just let it affect us. When we
finally get settled in, we played our game. By that time, it was
The Flyers went scoreless the final 7:25 of the first half and
didn’t score again until Hoover’s jumper 3 minutes into the second
half. Dayton’s 27-5 lead was sliced to 27-21 over that span.
As for that pregame ritual, Raterman laughed and said she
couldn’t reveal what was said in the huddle. It’s a tradition at
Dayton – and it’s one the Flyers will get to perform for at least
one more game in March.