Second half surge helps Rams complete comeback defeating St. Bonaventure 57-49

Various VCU players celebrate after a shot goes in at the game versus St. Bonaventure on Feb. 16. Photo by Kaitlyn Fulmore

JJ Hendrickson, Contributing Writer

Thailon Wilson, Contributing Writer

The VCU women’s basketball program defeated the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 57-49 on Wednesday night at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Head coach Beth O’Boyle said a strong mentality carried by the team helped continue the team’s five game win streak.

“We know every night that we step onto the court, it doesn’t matter the opponent, it’s going to be a tough one,” O’Boyle said. “A lot of credit to St. Bonaventure.”

The Rams have never lost to St. Bonaventure, and have a record of 10-0 since its first matchup in 2013, according to VCU Athletics

The black and gold struggled during the first half, shooting only 13.3% from the field and 10% from the three-point line, which is 25.2% lower than their average shooting percentage from the field and 22.9 percent lower from the three according to ESPN. St. Bonaventure went on three runs in the first half, blocking the Rams from scoring multiple times. 

“There were some really good [looks] that we left at the rim that hey, we know playing good teams, that you can’t really do that,” O’Boyle said. 

St. Bonaventure entered halftime leading the Rams 24-13. Bonnies senior guard Asianae Johnson and redshirt senior guard Tori Harris combined for 18 out of 24 of the visiting team’s first half points.

“Asianae Johnson is a very talented player and [she’s] been putting up points and Tori Harris has been playing really well,” O’Boyle said about the two St. Bonaventure players.

After a poor shooting performance in the first half, the Rams came out with a vengeance in the second half. The team was able to put up shooting percentages of 55.6% from the field and 45.5% from the three-point line, hitting five three-pointers. 

“Hey, we are also really good shooters, and just shoot the ball with confidence. You’re going to have moments in games where they’re not going to fall but you got to have a short memory and shoot the next one.” O’Boyle said. 

Sophomore guard Sarah Te-Biasu led the Rams in scoring with 15 points. Te-Biasu was responsible for one of the game’s biggest momentum shifts, when she hit a stepback three as time expired in the third quarter to cut the lead to one.

“We were on fire after that,” Te-Biasu said about her big shot.

O’Boyle said the impact that Te-Biasu’s shot had to close out the third period as well.

“Sarah’s [Te-Biasu] three at the buzzer got everybody going and it really was a spark to get our energy level going” O’Boyle said.

The black and gold’s defense picked up in the second half. The Rams were able to keep St. Bonaventure’s three point percentage at 11% for the second half, which is 17% lower than their season average according to VCU’s stat holder Statbroadcast. Redshirt senior guard Janika Griffith-Wallace said there was an emphasis on the team’s perimeter defense. 

“That was one of the focuses of the game, to shut down the three-point line,” Griffith-Wallace said.

Rebounding was one of the biggest keys to the Rams’ comeback, as the team outrebounded the Bonnies in the second half 18-15. Griffith-Wallace was the biggest contributor on the rebounding front in the game. She was able to finish with a double-double, having posted 10 points and 12 rebounds in the game. Griffith-Wallace said the emphasis on crashing the glass in the second half came from O’Boyle.

“Coach [O’Boyle] was harping on rebounding at the halftime, so we just went out there and boxed out and did what we had to do,” Griffith-Wallace said. 

The Rams started a full court press at the end of the first quarter. O’Boyle said that the press helped out the team a lot with intensity on the defensive end which translated to their offense as well.

“I think Sarah [Te-Biasu] and Janika[Griffith-Wallace] put such great pressure on the ball at the half court. We really wanted to extend that and see if we could get some second chance points really from our defense turning into offense,” O’Boyle said.

The Rams came off a big win against the Dayton Flyers. They used that intensity to help form a second half comeback and keep the winning streak alive.

The Rams will play an away game against the George Mason Patriots on Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., at the EAGLEBANK Arena in Fairfax, VA.

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