St. Bonaventure tops Marist for Sweet 16 spot

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- St. Bonaventure is making its first trip to the NCAA tournament a memorable one.

Jessica Jenkins scored 22 points and Doris Ortega added 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the fifth-seeded Bonnies beat No. 13 seed Marist 66-63 on Tuesday night and advance to the round of 16.

"We're the new kids to the party," St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley said. "That's pretty cool."

The Bonnies (31-3) are moving on to Raleigh, N.C. after snapping Marist's 11-game winning streak. Next up for the newcomers is top-seed Notre Dame.

Leanne Ockenden missed a desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer for 13th- seeded Marist, which was the lowest seed to advance into the second round.

Marist (26-8) had a chance to tie the score at 64 with 1:25 left, but Kelsey Beynnon missed a free throw that would have completed a three-point play. CeCe Dixon's two free throws with 23 seconds left gave St. Bonaventure a 66-63 lead.

"It was what we expected ... a game of swings," Crowley said. "We just kind of find a way to get it done."

Brandy Gang led Marist with 19 points, 14 coming in the second half. Corielle Yarde added 13 points and Beynnon 12 for the Red Foxes, who shot 40 percent.

Jenkins, who scored only five points on two-of-nine shooting in Sunday's win over Florida Gulf Coast, made six 3-pointers for St. Bonaventure, which hit 45 percent from the field. The Bonnies also defeated Marist 67-56 on Dec. 18.

"I feel like I ran screens a little bit better to get myself open than I did the other day," said Jenkins, the nation's active leader with 338 career 3's.

Marist trailed 38-31 at half, but regained the lead at 43-42 on Gang's 3-pointer five minutes into the second half. The score see-sawed until the Bonnies took the lead for good at 52-49 with 9:38 left on Chelsea Bowker's 3-point shot. Bowker tied the score with a jumper 53 seconds earlier.

"We just didn't make enough plays," Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. "We gave them too many second chance opportunities."

St. Bonaventure had most things going its way in the first half.

The Bonnies shot 54.2 percent and were 4 for 7 from 3-point distance, all by Jenkins. St. Bonaventure also won the first half rebound battle by a 20-12 margin and finished with a 40-26 advantage overall and 15-8 on the offensive boards.

"I knew how important some of the possessions were," said Ortega, who had five offensive boards. "Basically, I was just trying to be aggressive."

Rebounding, Crowley said, made the difference and he praised Ortega's effort.

"The bigger the game, the better she is," Crowley said. "In big games, she makes plays."

Marist, meanwhile, shot just 37.9 percent and missed 10 of 15 tries from long range in the opening half.

St. Bonaventure used a 12-2 run midway through the half on the way to its largest lead at 33-23. Marist countered with eight unanswered points to get within 33-31.

Marist had hoped to return to the Sweet 16 for the second time. The Red Foxes advanced that far in 2006-07 before being eliminated by Tennessee.

"It wasn't meant to be," Giorgis said. "That's the frustrating thing."

Marist upset fourth-seeded Georgia 76-70 on Sunday and St. Bonaventure rallied for a 72-65 overtime win over 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast to advance from the tournament's opening round.

A small liberal arts college located on the shore of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Marist captured an automatic berth as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Association champion to reach the NCAA tournament a seventh straight season.

St. Bonaventure, a small private Franciscan Catholic University located in the west New York town of Olean, was an at-large invitee to the women's tournament.