Niagara Gazette — Despite a strong defensive showing and a good second half in the front court, the Niagara Purple Eagles dropped a 73-57 decision to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies on Tuesday night in the Reilly Center.
The Purple Eagles (0-3) held the Bonnies (4-1) to 1-for-6 shooting throughout the first five minutes, but turnovers kept Niagara from jumping out to an early lead before the Bonnies were able to get on the board.
“The first half defensively I thought was good but they made some tough shots,” head coach Kendra Faustin said. “We tried to create too much early in the first half (and committed) silly travels and turnovers. We were getting stops and then we were just trying to create too much individually offensively and we did a much better job in the second half and I think that certainly showed.”
Each time the Bonnies looked like they were about to get going offensively in the opening half, the Purple Eagles responded with a mini-run of their own. When the hosts went up by eight points, 12-4, with less than eleven minutes to play, a Taylor McKay layup and a three-pointer from Victoria Rampado brought the game back within three, 12-9.
But turnovers again hurt the Purps and a half-court prayer sent Niagara into the locker room facing a 39-20 deficit.
“Really what those turnovers are at the beginning of the game are youth,” Faustin said. “Taylor McKay has played major minutes in three college basketball games. Victoria Rampado just has three college basketball games in her entire career and her life.”
Niagara found its stride offensively in the second, hitting 44 percent (11 for 25) from the floor on its way to outscoring the Bonnies 37-33 in the half.
“I thought we moved the ball in the second half much better,” Faustin said. “Once we got that going and played to our strengths I thought we did a great job. I thought Val McQuade’s effort was great; her line was great.”
McQuade led the Purple Eagles in scoring with 13 points. The junior hit 3 of 4 chances from three-point range and made both of her free throws. NU had three players in double-digits for the third time this season with McKay and Sylvia Maxwell both scoring 10. The team also took advantage of its chances from the free-throw line, hitting 17 of 20 (85 percent) of its opportunities.
The Purple Eagles have a quick turnaround with their next game coming on Saturday at home against the Binghamton Bearcats. Tip-off in the Gallagher Center is scheduled for 2 p.m.