By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13
Duquesne takes on St. Bonaventure with second place in the Atlantic 10 on the line Saturday afternoon.
Each team has an 8-3 conference record.
Bonaventure has five games remaining. A top-four seed means Bonaventure would begin tournament play on Friday March 7 in the quarterfinals in Virginia.
It’s a big game for Bonaventure for a number of reasons. Conference seeding implication is a major reason, but Saturday’s game will give Bona a chance to see where they stand among the conference’s elites. The Bonnies have two nice wins against Saint Joseph’s, Fordham and La Salle, but dropped their conference opener at Duquesne.
Since the conference opening loss, the Bonnies have lost twice (at first place Dayton and at Saint Louis on Feb. 12).
The Bonnies outplayed Duquesne in the second half, so they have proven they can play with the Dukes. It’s a matter of playing a complete game for an important win.
Nyla Rueter had a then career-high 20 points in the lost to Duquesne. She also had five rebounds, four assists and four threes. Rueter benefited from the attention that Katie Healy and Gabrielle Richmond attracted.
Rueter has been fantastic since conference play began. She has shot 46 percent from three since Jan. 1. Her ability to attack the basket, and be a playmaker takes pressure off of Richmond, Healy and Hannah Little. Defenses have to play honest against Rueter, which translates into more one-on-one matchups with Healy and her defender, which usually bodes well for Bonaventure.
Keys for Bonaventure:
1.) Head coach Jim Crowley stressed how important defense will be against Duquesne. In the first match up, the Bonnies did not do a well enough job keep their girls in front of them. St. Bonaventure lateness in rotations forced them to reach and foul Duquesne players. The Dukes shot 36 free throws.
2.) Crowley believes that Dukes senior forward Wumi Agunbiade is the frontrunner for A-10 Player of the Year. She averages 15.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. The key is to not giver her any easy buckets.
3.) Hannah Little has been fantastic on the offense glass. She has 27 offensive rebounds in 11 conference games. Little did not do much in the first game, but she’ll need a solid contribution for the Bonnies to win this time.
Saturday will be a Play 4Kay game. The event raises money for women’s cancer research, and is named after former North Carolina State University head women’s coach Kay Yow who passed away in 2009 after battling breast cancer.
It should be a nice atmosphere in the Reilly Center with the Play 4Kay event, and a second place ranking in the Atlantic 10 standings on the line.