(Nyla Rueter Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team carries the momentum of a ten-game win streak into Rhode Island’s Ryan Center on Sunday afternoon for a clash with the Rams to start Atlantic 10 play.
The 11-2 Bonnies look better on paper than the 6-6 Rams, who started the season 2-4 and suffered overtime losses in their last two games, but the sides match up well statistically.
The Bonnies are ninth in the conference in scoring with 63.8 points a game, while the Rams aren’t far behind at 59.4, 11th in the league. These are two of the best defensive teams in the A-10; Bonaventure is second, allowing just 54.6 points a game, while Rhode Island is fourth with an average of 57.5 points allowed. The teams are tied for first in defensive field goal percentage, with opponents shooting just 33.1 percent from the field.
A few things separate the two teams, mainly free throw shooting and defending the three. Bona is shooting 73.6 percent as a team from the stripe to Rhody’s collective effort of 65.2 percent. SBU is holding opponents to a 23.6 percent three-point percentage, the best mark in the A-10, while Rhody is 11th at 32 percent.
Here’s the full breakdown for the Sunday matinee:
St. Bonaventure- Jim Crowley. 245-225 as Bonnies coach.
Rhode Island- Daynia La-Force. 23-19 as Rams coach.
Key players for Rhode Island:
Charise Wilson- 5-foot-5 sophomore guard. Wilson leads the Rams in scoring, (15.3 points a game), assists (3.4 a game) and steals (2.6 a contest). She has scored in double figures in all 12 games, with a season-high 26 in the season-opening loss to Syracuse and 19-point games at Dartmouth and Florida International. The West Babylon, N.Y. native, who went to basketball power St. Anthony’s, is a threat from three-point, averaging just under three makes a game.
Samantha Tabakman- 6-foot-3 senior forward. Tabakman is second in scoring, averaging 13.3 points on a team-best 59 percent field goal percentage. She also leads in rebounding at 9.2 boards a contest. The team is 6-4 when she scores 10 or more points and has lost both games when she scores in single digits. The Pompton Plains, N.J. native has recorded five double-doubles this season, including a big three-game stretch in wins over Dartmouth, Boston University and Columbia where she averaged 12.7 points, 15 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.
Symone Bullard- 5-foot-7 senior guard. Bullard, who has appeared in each of the last five games after missing the first seven, is the third Ram averaging double figures, with 10 points a game on 42.9 percent shooting. She also has potential from long range, making six of her 12 shots from behind the arc. A 16-point game on Dec. 20 helped the Rams stay in the game against Providence.
Keys to victory for Rhode Island: It’s obviously difficult against a Bona team with great perimeter defense, but to come out victorious the Rams need to have some level of three-point success. When teams try to win the game down low against the Bonnies, they encounter Katie Healy, the school’s all-time shot-blocker. To snap the streak, Rhody has to crack the code from beyond the arc.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies need to do a better job of taking care of the ball against such a good defensive team. They are turning the ball over about 17 times a game, which can be overcome against Buffalo and Colgate but could be a real problem against top-tier Atlantic 10 teams like Dayton and Duquesne.
To be an NCAA Tournament team, which SBU has the potential to be, cutting down on turnovers is a necessary step.