Women’s basketball: Chelsea Bowker will be remembered as a winner

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

Chelsea Bowker has hit 221 three pointers in her career, but she shouldn’t be remembered for them.

Even if that number continues to rise with two more regular season games and then whatever the postseason has in store for the Bonnies.

She has scored 10 or more points in 37 games during her career. In those games, St. Bonaventure has a 33-4 record.

Bowker’s ability to stretch the floor gave space for Megan Van Tatenhove before and Katie Healy now for one-on-one match ups.

Fans know her as the three-point shooter. You expect to see Bowker launch a few threes in a given game. She will finish her career as a top-4 3-point shooter in St. Bonaventure University women’s basketball history.

“That’s really what everyone knows me as the girl who shoots three pointers,” said Bowker.

But the graduate student is much more than the girl who shoots three pointers.

Bowker was supposed to finish her Bonaventure career last season during her senior year, but an ankle injury prevented her from competing in any games.

Although Bowker has never been the quickest player, her ankle troubles have really limited her mobility this year.

“I’m not really the fastest kid, and I haven’t really focused much on my defense but honestly since my ankle injury I’m not going to be running off screens—I know how our system works so it enables me to do things right,” said Bowker.

Bowker has been with the program for five years. She has won plenty of basketball games. Her freshman year St. Bonaventure won 23 , her sophomore year the Bonnies won 21 and then her junior year they won 31 and advanced to the Sweet 16. She watched from the bench as St. Bonaventure struggled to win 10 games last season.

Throughout the last five years Bowker has learned defensive angles. Again, she might not be the most athletic player, but she has been capable of making great defensive plays.

“When she is locked in, when she wants to do it–she understands are angles perfectly,” said head coach Jim Crowley. “She understands how to post defense. She knows exactly what to do.”

Examples of her post defense can be found on Jan. 18 against Saint Louis or against Duquesne Feb. 15.

Denisha Womack had 12 first half points against the Bonnies for Saint Louis. In the second half, with Bowker covering her, she scored five. Bowker made things difficult for Womack, and St. Bonaventure secured an important 62-60 win.

Last Saturday against Duquesne’s Wumi Agunbiade, Bowker made another great defensive play.

Bowker forced an offensive foul on Agunbiade that fouled her out of the game. As a result Duquesne had no post player to deliver the ball to at the end of the game and the Bonnies defeated the Dukes 63-62.

In yesterday’s senior day win against George Mason, Bowker made another defensive play that overshadowed her game-high 19 points.

With 2:11 left in the second half and the Bonnies clinging to a four-point lead, Bowker took a chance and stole the ball from George Mason’s Taylor Brown.

She then turned that steal into a layup.

But before that play Bowker had made some mistakes. She looked a little sluggish.

“That play sums up Chels. And what I mean by that is I wanted to kill her before that because she got beat up on a couple rebounds and she looked exhausted so we gave her a little rest, put her back in and then she makes a play that basically decides the game,” said Crowley. “That’s Chels.”

Sure Bowker might take a play off from time to time. She may get beat for a rebound on defense.

But when it matters, she’ll come through.

“You know she is going to do something positive when it matters because she is really competitive,” said Crowley.

In a way Chelsea Bowker is everything a coach could want.

She’s a good shooter, a good teammate and when she plays her team usually wins.

“At the end of the day, she’s in a lot of ways exactly what I want our players to be. She’s really competitive, really tough and knows how to win,” said Crowley. “You can take everything else away, but you can’t take those three things.”

Who knows how many more games Bowker will play for St. Bonaventure, and it doesn’t matter because Bowker will always be remembered as a winner.

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu

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