Fontbonne 72 Kearney 49
With first place on the line for Fontbonne to defend, there was a palpable intensity at the Bishop Kearney gym as the Bonnies warmed up to play the always-tough Tigers for the first time in the 2017 season.
That intensity played out immediately after the tip-off on Kearney’s first possession as Natalie LaCognata took a charge under the basket and was knocked down to the hardwood, which set the tone for this game between cross-borough rivals.
After taking the charge, LaCognata stayed in the game as the Tigers led by Kristin O’Shaughnessy (12 points) came out aggressively to the hoop and took an early 13-12 first quarter lead. Then, suddenly in the second quarter, the turning point of the game came early as Fontbonne began to make bench substitutions.
Seeing that some of his starters were playing flat, Head Coach Steve Oliver sent in Emily Lind (six points) and Erin Kennedy (seven points) who scored a combination of 13 points to jump start the team to go on a 22-10 run for a 34-23 lead at the half.
Led by Emily Buziacki (nine points) and Jesse Diaz (11 points), the Tigers came back with 18 points but continued to trail Fontbonne 52-41 by the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bonnies came up with another big run (20-8) which sealed the game by mid-quarter. For Fontbonne, this was a breakout game for sophomore newcomer Jill Howard who scored a game high 28 points, 20 of which came in the second half.
In addition to her high score, Howard was six for eight from the foul line as a major part of the team’s nine for 11 foul shot total.
Noting that the game was a tale of two halves, Coach Oliver stated that his team only earned this win by playing up-tempo in the second half. “As I’ve said before, this year we have a really good bench and the rest of the team just built on the lead that the bench gave us,” said Oliver.