By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13
La Salle scored 38 points against St. Bonaventure in the Explorers January loss. They shot 20 percent from the field that night.
In Friday’s quarterfinal matchup, the Bonnies allowed 42 points as La Salle shot 22.2 percent from the field.
“It is who we are,” said St. Bonaventure head coach Jim Crowley. “It ain’t pretty, but we play some defense. We play really hard.”
The Bonnies defeated La Salle by 12 to advance to semifinal Saturday in Richmond, Virginia.
After surrendering 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, the Bonnies allowed four in the second.
“We just did a great job as a team of making them take contested shots,” Crowley said. “And I thought that was the game that we were able to limit them to one shot.”
La Salle’s Micahya Owens and Alicia Cropper combined to shoot 9-42. Emily Michael, Imani Outlaw, Nyla Rueter and Katie Healy forced them into difficult shots all game.
“They trusted what they did and really did a great job of leaning on each other,” Crowley said.
The stingy defense forced the Explorers to shoot 12.1 percent in the first half.
“I really thought that we were just where we needed to be all the time,” said Crowley. “Our defense is at its best when people think ‘hey, we just miss shots’ we are doing our best job if people are thinking that.”
As great as the Bonnies worked on defense, they struggled scoring on offense in the first half mustering up 18 points.
After allowing Cropper to hit an open three in the first half, Outlaw was pulled. Rueter had a tough time finding a rhythm in the offense during the first half. Michael had a couple first half turnovers.
But Outlaw, Rueter and Michael played much better in the second half.
“They responded terrifically,” said Crowley. “Em (Michael) running the show, Nyla (Rueter) going to get some rebounds and getting some second half points and Imani (Outlaw) is a really good shooter from the foul line area, so to have her there against the zone and just to see that confidence.”
Aside from Outlaw’s jumpers, she gathered important rebounds.
“That to me was the big thing that she went and got six rebounds, mostly in the second half,” said Crowley.
La Salle hung tough throughout most of the game, but St. Bona pulled away late in the second half.
Thanks in large part to Hannah Little, Healy and Rueter.
Little scored a career-high 22 points. She also collected 17 rebounds.
Healy finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Rueter had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. Rueter made six of seven from the line, but that’s expected since she shoots nearly 83 percent from the line.
But Healy shot 69 percent from the line in the regular season, and Little shot 63.
Today Little and Healy shot 75 percent from the line.
When St. Bonaventure needed scores to extend their lead, Little and Healy delivered.
“It’s one of those when we need them they make them,” said Crowley. “I’m very confident when either of them steps to the line in big free throw situation.”
With eight healthy scholarship players, coach Crowley finds his team in their second conference semifinals in the last three years— a fantastic job by coach Crowley, his staff and his players.
St. Bonaventure plays the winner of Duquesne/Fordham tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.