(Matea Britvar Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
St. Bonaventure women’s basketball coach Jesse Fleming’s official Reilly Center head coaching debut had a little bit of everything: a great scoring output from his juniors, a large lead cut down to a one-possession game, even a technical foul.
The “T” occurred with a little under three minutes remaining in the first half. Fleming was calling a play but was outside of the coaching box.
“In front of my mother,” Fleming said with a laugh.
It was a game full of firsts as the Bonnies earned the 70-57 victory against Colgate on Sunday afternoon. Junior forward Matea Britvar recorded her first career double-double and earned two career highs with 20 points and 11 rebounds. And freshman Sarah Hart became the first frosh to score in double figures this year to avoid an 0-2 start.
“The energy was fantastic in the first half,” Fleming said. “The ball was really popping… We kind of accomplished our goal of getting better from Friday night.”
Bona got outrebounded 45-36, including surrendering 13 offensive boards, but Colgate turned the ball over 20 times. SBU scored 17 points off those miscues.
Britvar and fellow junior Mariah Ruff each poured in 16 first-half points to lead SBU into the break up 43-29. The Raiders bounced back nicely out of the intermission, however, outscoring the brown and white 17-10 in the third quarter to make it a seven-point game. Bona responded by scoring the first six points of the fourth.
The reaction pleased Fleming, who said after Friday night’s loss at Niagara that he was disappointed in the effort.
“I don’t want it to be (taken) the wrong way, I just thought we got really down on ourselves on Friday,” Fleming said. “And once they took a little lead, we did have a little quit in us, unfortunately. We talked a little bit about reactions and reactions to adversity. And again, that’s why I’m happy that when Colgate made their run, we stemmed the tide a little bit and we did show some fight… we got some stops, we got some big rebounds and it was really, really great to see that.”
Ruff had seven assists to go with her 19 points, her 11th career game with five or more assists. Four of those helpers went to Britvar, who praised her teammate before acknowledging that the ball movement that produced 18 assists was a team effort.
“Some of (Ruff’s) passes are very accurate,” Britvar said. “She’s good at getting the ball through. But it’s a team thing as well. We all just set each other up and get to the right spots. If I set her a screen and she’s coming off of it good I know that my roll will be open or she’ll have that jumper, too. We’ve gotta work together and that chemistry is there.”
“We had to get that,” Fleming noted. “We talked about how we were gonna have some driving gaps in their zone. They extend out their 3-2 (zone) a little bit, so we were gonna get in the paint. We said a lot, you’re not just gonna walk in for a layup, there’s always gonna be some rotation. But if we can make those dump-out passes or if we can make a kick out to the corner when they help the helper, we knew that stuff was gonna be there.
“So I was really proud. I think we could’ve just driven in there and thrown up some bad shots, which we did a couple times, but for the most part, we got in there, the help came and we made the correct read… we’ll have a lot of success if we can keep those numbers up.”
The Bonnies unveiled their 2016 NCAA Tournament banner and welcomed back three of last year’s cornerstones, Emily Michael, Kelcie Rombach and Nyla Rueter, before the game.
“A tear kind of came to my eye as I watched it drop,” Britvar said. “It just meant a lot, and all the hard work we put in previous years, my freshman year was a slump a little bit but last year we came out and we kept rolling. Seeing that banner, seeing Emily and Kelcie on the floor and Nyla, it kind of pumped me up. I want to do better this year, make sure that we can do something else for the Reilly Center just like that.”
Britvar still has a close relationship with the three seniors who were present as well as Katie Healy, who is playing pro ball in Greece.
“We actually talk a lot,” Britvar said. “Nyla works here, so we see her weekly, and then we talk about basketball all the time and stuff like that. Emily, here and there, she’s a busy girl in Colorado. Kelcie, she works for Providence, so I hear from her now and then.
“But Katie, me and her snapchat, we talk a lot about basketball. I watch some of her clips from her games, the highlights and stuff, so I know she’s doing well as well.”