STORRS, Conn. – Freshman Helena Kurt (Spanga, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium) scored a season-high 13 points, but the Monmouth University women’s basketball team was edged by St. Bonaventure, 61-55, Friday evening at Gampel Pavilion in the opening round of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. With the loss, the Hawks fall to 0-4, while the Bonnies improve to 5-1.
Chevannah Paalvast (Auckland, New Zealand/Massey) and Kasey Chambers (Belmar, N.J./St. Rose) added 12 points apiece, a season and career-high for Chambers. Paalvast also led the Hawks with six rebounds and three steals, while Christina Mitchell (Baltimore, Md./MATHS) also grabbed six boards. Shira Shecht (Pardessiya, Israel/Hadassim) had a team-high four assists.
Gabrielle Richmond narrowly missed a double-double for St. Bonaventure with 15 points and nine rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Chelsea Bowker added 13 points, while Nyla Rueter had 10. Hannah Little led all rebounders with 11 to go along with seven points.
“The story of our season so far has been consistency and being able to execute for long periods of time,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “We’re able to get leads and hang in games, but we always have a spurt that wipes that away from us in the course of the game - poor shot selection, coupled by momentary lapses in our game plan on defense. With all that being said, we’ve been doing some really good things. I thought today, we narrowed our lapse. We shortened the time where that happened and the game was closer. We were right in that one right until the end and then we got bit by the same bug.”
St. Bonaventure scored seven of the first nine points to begin the game, including a three-pointer by Emily Michael to cap the scoring. But Monmouth responded with 14 of the next 16 points to open a 16-9 lead. Paalvast knocked down a three-pointer and made two free throws to pace the Hawks in the run. The Bonnies gradually scored nine of the next 11 points to take a 20-18 lead. Richmond scored all nine points for St. Bonaventure. Monmouth retook the lead on a Chambers free throw and a Mia Hopkins (Pittston, Pa./Pittston Area) second-chance bucket off the missed second free throw. A Paalvast bucket through traffic in the paint put the Hawks on top, 23-20, before a pair of Bonnies free throws cut the Hawks’ lead to one, 23-22, at the half.
Paalvast led the Hawks with nine points in the first half, while Richmond countered with nine of her own for St. Bonaventure.
After Paalvast opened the second half with a three-pointer, St. Bonaventure scored nine-straight points to open a 31-26 lead. Richmond scored four points in the run. The Bonnies extended the lead to six, 35-29, on Kelcie Rombach’s jumper, before Monmouth scored seven of the next eight points to tie the game at 36-36. Kurt scored the last five points on a three-pointer and a runner.
St. Bonaventure again surged ahead by three on two occasions, but a Chambers three and jumper at the 8:46 and 8:29 marks, respectively, put Monmouth back on top, 43-41. However, the Bonnies responded with a 10-0 run and the Hawks would get no closer than to within five the rest of the way.
For the game, the Bonnies outshot the Hawks, 34.0 percent (16-47) to 30.6 percent (19-62) from the floor and 26.7 percent (4-15) to 25.0 percent (5-20) from long range. Monmouth took a 70.6 percent (12-17) to 69.4 percent (25-36) edge from the free-throw line, but attempted 19 fewer from the charity stripe than the Bonnies. St. Bonaventure also took a 46-38 edge on the boards. Monmouth forced 24 St. Bonaventure turnovers, while turning it over 19 times itself.
The Hawks continue play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge Saturday when they face the host Connecticut Huskies. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion. The game can be seen live on SNY and ESPN3.com.