Richmond, VA -- Today's battle between the top two scoring defenses in the conference ended up being exactly the type of game you would expect: a low-scoring war of attrition, with both teams pounding the ball inside. Points were hard to come by, especially in a fourth quarter where both teams saw scoring droughts of four minutes.
St. Bonaventure found themselves down 10 points with two minutes left, and started fouling to stretch out the game. VCU almost gifted the Bonnies a chance at the game; the Rams lost focus in the final seconds, leaving seven free points on the table in their 14 trips to the line.
However, St. Bonaventure couldn't capitalize, and drew iron on open shot after open shot. The Bonnies wanted to cut the lead short the quick way, throwing up long distance shots with no conscience. But they could only connect on two of those nine attempts, and the Rams were never really in danger of losing their lead.
St. Bonaventure jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead in the first quarter, but Ashley Pegram scored on two possessions in a row after that, sparking an 11-0 run that gave VCU the momentum they wouldn't lose for the rest of the contest.
After holding the Bonnies to six points in the first period, the Rams remained relentless on the defensive end, smothering their opponent en route to a 25% shooting performance for the Bonnies in the second half. Spreading the ball around helped VCU get points from all but two players who played in the first half; Isis Thorpe led the way with eight, including a three-pointer that just beat the clock at the end of the half to take the lead to 14.
The Bonnies finally caught up with VCU's aggressiveness in the third, with their highest scoring quarter. Quick hands on defense helped them amass four steals. Ram Curteeona Brelove started the half off with three turnovers on the first four VCU possessions, allowing St. Bonaventure to sneak back into contention. But the Rams 50% shooting from the field ensured that they would stay ahead.
Ugly basketball awaited both teams in the fourth quarter, with missed free throws, continuous offensive rebounds, and multiple scraps on the floor for loose balls. However, VCU didn't seem to mind, grabbing every loose ball during the quarter. Free throws in the final minutes from Keira Robinson and Isis Thorpe sent the Bonnies back to a ten point deficit, where they would stay until a last-second layup from the Bonnies' Emily Michael.
But it was too little, too late for St. Bonaventure, as they lost their first and final game of the tournament.
VCU moves on to play top seed George Washington tomorrow, after the Colonials made quick work of the George Mason earlier in the day. That clash of styles will feature VCU's top defense against George Washington's second-ranked offense, featuring one of the conference's most prolific scorers in Jonquel Jones.