(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Katie Faulkner
In a matchup where the idea of a neutral site did not apply, “Let’s go Rams” chants echoed through the Richmond Coliseum. After receiving a bye and moving straight to the quarterfinals, St. Bonaventure was unable to avenge last month’s loss to VCU, as the Rams stole the win, 59-50.
After a shaky first half plagued with turnovers, the Bonnies found themselves down 29-15. 14 first-half turnovers by SBU allowed the Rams more scoring opportunities, where they dominated under the hoop for 34 points in the paint. Though VCU had its share of turnovers as well, the Bonnies could not take advantage on the offensive end due to poor shooting.
“Their defensive pace was above our offensive pace,” said SBU coach Jim Crowley. “I think we were hurrying the shots we had and not shooting them with the rhythm we’re capable of.”
The Bonnies shot an uncharacteristic 29 percent (18-of-61) from the field, including going 5-for-29 from long range. Sophomore Miranda Drummond registered a game-high 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. Graduate student Emily Michael chipped in with 12 points, while Mariah Ruff added 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Senior Katie Healy notched seven points in just 23 minutes of action due to foul trouble. Matea Britvar provided big minutes off the bench and totaled a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two blocks.
The Bonnies opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but Healy was forced to sit after picking up her third foul. SBU was able to cut the VCU lead to 46-43 in the fourth quarter, but the Bonnies could not capitalize on the offensive end.
“I thought when we had fought and gave ourselves a really good chance, we kept thinking we had to make it all up in one shot,” said Crowley. “I think we got in our own way a little bit with frustration on missing some open shots.”
Nine players put points on the board for VCU, a team that relies heavily on constant substitutions. The Rams credit their quick rotations as the key factor to maintaining a high level of intensity on the defensive end.
“[Defense] is our calling card,” said VCU coach Beth O’Boyle. “We really take pride in it and emphasize it and I’m lucky that our players have bought [into the idea] that defense wins championships.”
The hockey-style subbing not only helped fuel 22 bench points, but also took advantage of the Bonnies’ lack of depth.
“We thought our depth was really going to be a factor and that we were going to try and push the tempo,” said O’Boyle. “We had to get the ball over halfcourt as fast as we could to make them run and chase us on the offensive side, so that when they came back down on offense it was tiring them out.”
Junior Ashley Pegram was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Adaeze Alaeze’s six points put her over the 1,000 career-point mark. The senior also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Juniors Keira Robinson and Isis Thorpe notched nine points apiece for the Rams.
The Bonnies will wait to hear about a potential postseason bid.