St. Bonaventure rallies to deny FGCU in OT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Comebacks are nothing new this season for St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley.

He needed another one Sunday as the fifth-seeded Bonnies rallied from a late 11-point deficit to beat Florida Gulf Coast 72-65 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"This is probably our third or fourth double-figure deficit we've faced in the second half and we've come back and we've won," Crowley said. "They know they've done it before. This group -- they're best when their back is against the wall."

The Bonnies were in big trouble before Megan Van Tatenhove's jumper ignited a 14-1 run. CeCe Dixon's layup with 1:59 to go capped the burst and gave the Bonnies (30-3) their first lead in 16½ minutes at 56-54.

Courtney Chihil sent the game into overtime with the FGCU's only field goal in the final 6:29, a layup that tied it at 58, but the Eagles were just hanging on by then.

"We were fortunate to have a little more left in the tank," Crowley said.

And with just 6:29 left, it was looking like the Bonnies might be heading back home to upstate New York.

"I didn't want it to end, Van Tatenhove said. "I had to kick it in the pants."

Van Tatenhove finished with 18 points and Armelia Horton chipped in with 17 more and nine rebounds as the Bonnies eliminated the 12th-seeded Eagles, ending their 21-game winning streak.

Doris Ortega and Chelsea Bowker scored 10 points apiece for the Bonnies.

St. Bonaventure moves on to play No. 13 seed Marist (26-7) on Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the round of 16 in the Raleigh Regional. The Red Foxes upset fourth-seeded Georgia 76-70 for their 11th straight win. St. Bonaventure defeated Marist 67-56 on Dec. 18.

"With this group anything's possible," Crowley said. "We've won 30 games in a lot of different ways."

Sarah Hansen led FGCU (29-3) with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Eagles shot just 35.7 percent. Nicoya Jackson added 12 points and Griffin 11 for FGCU, which hadn't lost since Dec. 28.

The Eagles made only seven of their 26 tries from 3-point distance while St. Bonaventure made its living inside, attempting just a dozen shots from beyond the arc with Bowker getting two of the team's three 3s.

Van Tatenhove, who went 8 of 10 at the foul line, sank four during a 10-2 run in overtime that gave St. Bonaventure a commanding 70-62 lead as time ticked down.

The 6-foot-1 senior was equally accurate from the floor, missing just two of her seven tries.

FGCU, the nation's top 3-point shooting team, went nearly 22 minutes in the second half and overtime without a 3 after Eglah Griffin connected with 16:12 left. That shot set a Division I record for 3s in a season (341), according to tournament officials.

"When we were up by 10 that was a point in the game where we really needed to keep pushing and instead we laid back a little bit," Chihil said..

FGCU, eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time this year after transitioning from Division II, built a 53-42 lead by wiping out the Bonnies' 30-24 advantage at halftime.

But they didn't finish either half strongly, being outscored 12-1 in the final 5:48 of the first half and 28-9 during a decisive period late in the second half and the overtime.

"We didn't execute at the level that you need to win an NCAA tournament game," FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. "We kind of evaporated."