By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13
The Bonnies meet the Rams in the semifinals this afternoon at 1:30.
The winner advances to the championship game Sunday morning.
Here are some quick thoughts and statistics:
Rematch: On Feb. 1 St. Bonaventure beat Fordham 74-67. Chelsea Bowker sunk three second-half threes, while Katie Healy had a career-high 27 points. St. Bonaventure forced the Rams to shoot under 40 percent from the field. Emily Michael’s defense on Fordham’s Erin Rooney had been fantastic. Rooney shot 3 for 16 on the afternoon.
Fordham’s Stars: The Rams had every starter score in double-figures against the Bonnies, but the Rams had zero bench points. Fordham, like St. Bonaventure, relies heavily on their starters. In yesterday’s quarterfinal win over Duquesne, Fordham had two bench points.
The Rams start freshman Hannah Missry, sophomore Samantha Clark, junior Emily Tapio and seniors Erin Rooney and Abigail Corning. Each starter averaged at least nine points a game. Each starter averaged at least 27.1 minutes a game. Again, Fordham relies on their starters. About 87 percent of Fordham’s points have come from their starters.
‘Big’ Impact: The first time they met Hannah Little had six points in 21 minutes off the bench. With Gabrielle Richmond out for the season, Little has stepped up to post monster numbers recently as a starter. Little had a career-high 22 points in yesterday’s quarterfinal win over La Salle. Her ability to finish in traffic has improved during the year. Little broke St. Bonaventure’s single-season rebounding record in yesterday’s 18-rebound performance. Little continues to impress with not only her athletic ability, but also her instincts.
X-Factor: Bowker has struggled from the three in the last two games (3-18). She is the X-Factor. If she can give the Bonnies a few threes, it gives St. Bonaventure the advantage. St. Bona holds a 34-4 record when Bowker scores in double-figures in her career.
For what it’s worth: Clark has fouled out of five games for Fordham this year. St. Bonaventure’s resilient approach to attack inside can cause foul trouble for teams. Clark had four fouls against Bonaventure in February, while Corning fouled out with 43 seconds remaining.
Rueter Effect: Sophomore Nyla Rueter has been fantastic this year. She averaged 12.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a game in league play. She led the conference in 3-point percentage with 45.8. St. Bonaventure relies on Rueter to hit big shots. She hit big-time jumpers against Saint Louis, Fordham and Duquesne. Rueter’s also a player who wants to be fouled towards the end of the game as she knocked down free throws against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Saint Joseph’s and yesterday versus La Salle.
Freshman Bandit: Imani Outlaw had a major impact in yesterday’s win over La Salle. She made two jumpers and collected six rebounds in 25 minutes. Outlaw played 14 minutes against Fordham in February, but she has averaged 20.1 minutes over the last six games. Coach Crowley has a tenacity to play Outlaw with Emily Michael to give St. Bonaventure two solid ball-handlers.
Stars: Each team has a First Team All-Conference performer. Erin Rooney averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game. She’s arguable the best player in the conference. Katie Healy averaged 18.1 points and seven rebounds a game in conference play. Healy’s 37 assists in conference play ranked second on the team behind Emily Michael. Healy has great patience in the post. She’s great at drawing fouls. Healy lures immediate attention, allowing Hannah Little to slip to the basket. It seems at least twice a game Healy finds Little on a cut.