Women’s basketball: Bonnies visit Wildcats in pivotal road test

(Nyla Rueter Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The mantra is often repeated, in some shape or form, around college basketball: “win your home games and steal some on the road.”

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team has won all ten of its home games, including its last two games over Fordham and UMass, but now it faces a tough road test down south against Davidson on Wednesday night at 7.

The Bonnies (14-2, 3-0 A-10) will look to extend their winning streak to 14 games, while the Wildcats (7-9, 1-2) will look to get back on track after a 79-50 home defeat to Saint Louis on Sunday.

Davidson has the second-worst scoring margin in the conference (-5.7), while Bonaventure has the fifth-best (+10.8). The Bonnies have the best defense in the conference (53 points allowed per game, 33 percent field goal percentage against), while the Wildcats are 10th in scoring at 59.6 points per game and shooting 38.5 percent from the floor, ninth in the league.

Can Davidson pull off the upset, or will the brown and white bolster their chance to join Duquesne in the top 25 next week? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Jim Crowley. 248-225 as Bonnies coach.

Davidson- Michele Savage. 86-90 as Wildcats coach.

Key players for Davidson: 

Dakota Dukes- 6-foot-1 senior forward. Dukes is leading the ‘Cats in scoring average with 14.2 points a game on 54.5 percent shooting from the field, numbers that rank ninth and second respectively in the A-10. The Raleigh, N.C. native is also averaging 6.6 rebounds a game and has three double-doubles. Davidson is 4-3 when she scores 15 or more points.

Mackenzie Latt- 6-foot-1 sophomore forward. Latt has started all 16 games this season and leads the team in points scored with 226, making her scoring average 0.1 less than Dukes, who missed the Michigan State and Western Carolina games. The Kalamazoo, Mich. native has three 20-point games, with a season-high 25 against Charlotte on Nov. 20, when she shot 10-of-12 from the field and was 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Defensively, she grabs 6.1 rebounds and registers 1.2 steals a contest.

Hannah Early- 6-foot-2 senior forward. Early leads the team in rebounding with seven boards and 1.9 blocks a game along with her 10.8 points. She only shoots 32.3 percent from the field but is very accurate from the free throw line when she gets there, making 24 of her 27 free throws this season. Like Dukes and Latt, she has three double-doubles this season, her season-high of 23 coming in the Charlotte game.

Keys to victory for Davidson: In each of the seven wins this season, the Wildcats have held their opponents under 60 points. The defense needs a similar performance against a Bona team that has scored over 60 points in nine of its 16 games. Since a 99-88 loss to Charlotte, Davidson has averaged just 50 points a game, so the offense is not capable of consistently putting up 60 or 70 on the scoreboard. Dukes, Latt and Early have to make their presence felt and prevent Katie Healy, Miranda Drummond and Matea Britvar from having big offensive days.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure: Against a forward-heavy Wildcat team, the Bonnies have to get into a rhythm from the perimeter and hit some big three-point shots to get momentum. This could be a bounce-back game for Nyla Rueter, who was held without a field goal last game but is known to get hot from behind the arc at any time. If her shot is still not falling, Drummond and Mariah Ruff, who each made three triples last game, will be called on to make some outside jumpers.

The forwards may not be as big of a factor as usual due to Davidson’s talented post players, but that’s where SBU’s potent guards come into play. If the Bonnies can make three-balls against the fourth-worst perimeter defense in the conference (33.1 percent opponent three-point percentage), they should improve to 4-0.

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