ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – For much of the season, the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team has relied on its defense, but on Saturday afternoon the Bonnies flashed some standout offense, using four players scoring in double figures to run past George Mason at the Reilly Center, 70-55.
Mariah Ruff scored 11 of her game-high 16 points during the second half, helping to thwart a second half Mason rally. The sophomore guard connected on five-of-seven shot attempts including four of her six tries from long range, adding six assists without a single turnover.
The Bonnies shot 50 percent from the floor (26-of-52) including 10-of-22 from distance on the way to their 15th straight win to move to 16-2 overall and 5-0 in Atlantic 10 play. George Mason falls to 7-11, 2-3.
St. Bonaventure used an early surge to take advantage, breaking out on a 21-2 run for a 21-4 lead at the 1:30 mark of the opening period.
After a sluggish first quarter, the Patriots started to come alive, however, cutting within single digits at 25-17 midway through the second. After a jumper fromKelcie Rombach pushed the lead back out to 36-22, Mason answered back for a 36-27 score with 27 seconds to go in the half.
The Bonnies took a 38-27 cushion to intermission whenEmily Michael drove the baseline and found Richmond underneath with a great pass, allowing Richmond to finish with a layup moments before the buzzer.
Healy and Rueter combined for 23 of the Bonnies' first half points as the hosts shot over 58 percent from the floor, but Healy picked up her third foul just 11 seconds into the third quarter and was forced to sit.
Mason soon took advantage, launching a 7-0 run to bring the Bonnies' lead to just four at 38-34 before Ruff stemmed the tide with the first of her three treys during the period.
A layup from Kristi Mokube brought the Patriots back within five, but Ruff then drilled back-to-back shots from long range with the second coming from the top of the key for a 47-36 advantage with 5:53 left in the third. Mason never got within single digits again.
"In the third quarter they made their run," Bonnies head coachJim Crowley said. "Two of our senior leaders were on the bench for most of the quarter, but we not only handled their run but extended the lead. We struggled with some things defensively, but we took care of the ball and passed really well. Any win in this league is a good win so we'll take it."
The Bonnies matched a season-high by handing out 20 assists on 26 field goals, led by Ruff and Michael who dished out six apiece.
"We're at a point where we play hard for one another. They don't want to let each other down," Crowley said.
With Saturday's win, the Bonnies momentarily move into first place in the Atlantic 10 standings by themselves as the only squad with five conference wins. Fellow A-10 unbeatens George Washington and Duquesne will square off in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"You see what our players have been doing on the floor, but what most didn't see is all the time they put in during the spring, summer and fall," Crowley said of his team. "Now they're being rewarded for it. There's a long way to go and we try to stay focused on what's next. If you don't do that in this league, things can go away quickly."
Kara Wright led Mason with 11 points and six rebounds. The Patriots shot the ball at a 42 percent clip for the day (21-50), becoming the first Bonnies opponent in the past 12 contests to shoot better than 38 percent.
St. Bonaventure will hit the road this week, facing the challenge of playing at perennial A-10 power Dayton on Wednesday before a trip to Duquesne on Saturday.
GAME NOTES: The Bonnies had four players score in double figures for just the second time all year, also doing so in an 84-73 win over Detroit on Nov. 24 … St. Bonaventure shot 50 percent from the floor for the third time this season. The Bonnies have recorded a better percentage from the floor just once this year – 51.6 percent in the Detroit victory … St. Bonaventure's 21 points in the first period represented the second-most all year, behind only the 26 scored in the first quarter vs. Detroit … all 12 Bonnies logged time and 11 players scored … freshmanKeely Fresh tallied her first collegiate points with a three late in the fourth quarter … St. Bonaventure has allowed an opponent to shoot better than 40 percent just four times this season … the Bonnies moved to 11-0 at home … Mason's leading scorer Taylor Brown, the only active A-10 player with more career points than SBU's Katie Healy, entered the day averaging over 15 points per game, but was limited to eight Saturday. The Bonnies have limited their opponent's leading scorer to under their season average nine out of the last 10 contests ... senior Nyla Rueter was honored prior to Saturday's game for becoming the 21st member of the St. Bonaventure women's basketball 1,000-point club.