St. Louis, Mo. - The Fontbonne University women's basketball team clinched a spot in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Tournament for the first time since 2012 by beating Spalding University today 76-71. The Griffins improved to 13-10 overall and 9-5 in conference while extending its season-high winning streak to five games. With two regular season games remaining, Fontbonne will now be one of four teams in the SLIAC Tournament which will be held at Eureka College. The Griffins seed in the tournament has yet to be determined.
Fontbonne trailed much of the game but used a dominant fourth quarter to secure the victory. The Griffins outscored Spalding 27-15 in the critical final quarter.
Both teams opened the game firing on all cylinders. Spalding shot 53 percent in the opening 10 minutes while the Griffins shot 47 percent. After trailing 14-9, Fontbonne closed the first quarter on a 9-4 run to even the score at 18-18. Spalding used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 25-18 lead to start the second quarter. However midway through the quarter, the Griffins responded with their own 9-0 run to take the lead 33-31 before Spalding's final basket of the quarter tied the game at 33-33 at halftime.
Spalding continued their hot shooting coming out of the locker room after halftime shooting 79 percent in the third quarter. The Golden Eagles used a 12-4 run midway through the third quarter to open a 53-43 lead, the biggest of the game. The Griffins battled to close the margin to seven points, 56-49, entering the final quarter. Fontbonne opened the fourth quarter on a 11-4 run tie the score at 60-60. After a Spalding free throw, the Griffins took their first lead of the second half at 62-61. The teams traded baskets until freshman Raven Venegas took over. Venegas made three baskets in a row in the final three minutes to push the Griffins lead to 73-67. For the quarter, Venegas scored a team-high 13 points on 5-6 shooting from the field. Fontbonne sealed the victory at the free throw. The Griffins shot 82 percent from the field in the final 10 minutes while holding Spalding to 38 percent.
For the game, Venegas finished with a career and game-high 24 points. Sophomore Kaitlynn Walker finished with 16 points while freshman Katie Sportsman pitched 15 points off the bench. Senior Emmie Haring recorded 10 assists and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Senior Dee Dee Sliter led Spalding with 16 points. Prior to the game, Fontbonne honored seniors Emmie Haring and Lauren Willis.
Fontbonne returns to the court on Wednesday when they travel to Mount Pleasant, Iowa to play Iowa Wesleyan at 6 pm.