[Katie Healy goes to work in the post for two of her 14 points on the night in a Bonnies loss to Charlotte]
By Joe Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13
After seeing their two-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, St. Bonaventure returned to the Reilly Center last night to take on the streaking Charlotte 49ers.
Charlotte, winners of six of their last seven heading into the action, used their imposing height to keep the Bonnies off the boards and earned a 64-57 victory.
While the result was not what the Bonnies wanted, the play of the freshmen helped ease the storm clouds that were hovering overhead. Nyla Rueter scored a career-high 15 points, while Katie Healy also dropped in 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace the Bona offense.
Emily Michael did not have the offensive night her fellow classmates did, hitting just one three on the night, but she logged 37 minutes of action while playing steady defense and running the offense to perfection.
The trio of freshmen, the future of this Bona (9-12, 2-4) team, each played over 30 minutes.
“They know we are never satisfied,” said Crowley. “They know we are going to stay on them.”
Rueter, is just her third start, had the poise of a four-year starter throughout the game.
She consistently attacked the basket, breaking down Charlotte’s defense and helping find some open teammates in addition to putting in some acrobatic layups.
“We needed Nyla(Rueter) to have a good game today and I have been very difficult to her the last few days and she responded and now does she do it again?” said Crowley. “And that is the consistency factor.”
Crowley stressed getting to the rim during preparation for the game against Charlotte and Rueter put the plan in motion.
“Coach wanted us to keep attacking the rims,” said Rueter. “Because when we attack the rim we draw fouls and he wanted us to get free points with stopping the clock.”
Crowley knows what his freshmen are capable of, and in a game where Alaina Walker ran into foul trouble in the first half and Ortega was suffocated on offense, Crowley needed his freshmen more than ever.
“I feel like they’re getting better and that is our job is to keep making them get better and never be satisfied cause they’re getting more minute, or getting more points, or any of that garbage,” said Crowley. “They got to keep getting better and they have the right mindset for that.”
Despite being undersized, the Bonnies hung tough with the 49ers on the glass.
Although Charlotte outscored St. Bonaventure 40-20 in the paint, thanks in large part of the 18-point second half for six-foot-three senior Jennifer Hailey, the Bonnies nearly won the rebound advantage (44-40.)
“Height’s great, effort is better,” said Crowley. “We played really hard. We battled, we scraped—we found a way.”
There are no moral victories in basketball, but St. Bonaventure proved their toughness, competitiveness and grit during a hard-fought, 37-foul called conference game.
“We played really hard and as long as we are playing hard,” said Crowley. “I feel good about where we are going.”
And it all begins in practice.
“Hard effort during practice is all coach wants and if we do that regularly in practice it will carry over to games and hopefully it’ll find us success,” said Rueter.
“I think in practice it shows that we do go hard; we might not make the shots that we are good at but we constantly go hard,” said Healy. “The pace we go at in practice gets us all going.”
The pace allowed the Bonnies to hold their own against a very aggressive basketball team.
Charlotte did, however, force the Bonnies to shoot 31.7 percent from the field for the game, and although the Bonnies cut the 49ers lead to as little one with 16:45 remaining in the second half and four with 3:48 left in the game, the Bonnies could not get over the hump and make the big shot.
“Consistency with our shots is just going to come with time,” said Healy.
Lucky for Crowley these freshmen will be here for another three and half years.