[St.Bonaventure regroups in the huddle following a timeout – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]
By Joseph Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13
Take this scenario — What happens when Alaina Walker and Doris Ortega combine to shoot 1-for-10?
It means that the Bonnies must have lost, right?
Not even close.
The Bonnies beat Binghamton 61-34 in front of 1,121 spectators to open their season.
After trailing 12-11 with 11:03 remaining in the first half, the Bonnies went on a 22-6 run to end the half.
Katie Healy was a reason why.
In her first collegiate game, Healy torched the Bearcats defense with 8 first half points.
“I saw that some of the players were struggling,” Healy said after the game. “And my coaches told me that I need to step it up, really bring some energy.”
Healy provided the necessary offensive spark around the midway mark of the first half by utilizing her distinct height advantage.
“Katie gave us a presence inside,” Bona head coach Jim Crowley said of his freshman.
Healy’s inside presence gave the Bonnies open shots, which junior Ashley Zahn didn’t pass up.
Zahn, who scored a career-high 14 points, provided two 3-pointers and three deep 2-pointers.
But the junior wasn’t hot from the get-go, missing her first two 3-point attempts before settling down.
“Me and coach talked about this week is how you forget about your misses, you correct them and then you keep going from there,” Zahn said.
Zahn also talked about team defense.
“In the exhibition game we had trouble helping off the post, so we worked on that all this week,” said Zahn. “(We) really drilled it.”
A player who stepped up on defense was freshman Emily Michael.
Michael had two steals and played great on-ball defense on the Bearcats’ Stephanie Jensen.
“I am really confident in Emily’s abilities, so is the team,” said Crowley. “We know we are going to get effort and we know she has really good feet.”
Michael, who also had three assists and two 3-pointers in her college debut, realized the importance of team defense.
“As a team, we work on defense all the time and it is really what we feed off of to get our offense going,” Michael said.
Michael’s ball pressure helped force 16 Bearcats’ turnovers that resulted in 22 Bona points.
“A goal I set for myself and the team was that I was going to bring it on defense and I think today is worked out,” Michael said.
Defense has been the staple of Crowley’s system for years and the Bonnies tied a school record held by last year’s team by allowing just 34 points.
Even while many saw glimpses of a defense that finished first in the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense last year, Crowley was not pleased.
“We made a lot of mistakes defensively in the second half. We were very fortunate they missed some easy shots,” Crowley said. “But that’s what first games are for.”
Crowley had an important message to his team after the win.
“I told them after this game, they’re never going to satisfy me, but as long as they’re working really hard to satisfy each other and understand that accountability then we will be fine with whatever the scoreboard says.”