By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
After not scoring during her first two games, St. Bonaventure women’s basketball head coach Jesse Fleming decided to test freshman guard Jalisha Terry.
A test is an understatement.
In practice, Fleming matched Terry up one-on-one in a drill with junior guard Mariah Ruff.
The result? Well, in Fleming’s words, Ruff “took it to” the freshman guard from Michigan.
However, challenging Terry has made all the difference, as the Flint native cashed in a career-high 17 points in her fourth consecutive start, to help the Bonnies defeat the Stony Brook Seawolves 51-37 on Wednesday evening at the Reilly Center.
“[Terry] is learning that that’s the competitiveness level that’s she got to play at,” said Fleming. “What she’s done in the last 10-12 days, she’s taken the leadership role on this team and I’m confident having the ball in her hands. She’s a big time player and I’m thrilled she’s on our team.”
The Bonnies have certainly gained a consistency since Terry was inserted into the starting lineup against Delaware on November 19, as since the 43-40 loss to the Blue Hens, St. Bonaventure has won three straight games for the first time since the beginning of last season’s 16 game winning streak.
“They’ve been locked in all week,” said Fleming of the team. “It was a short turnaround, but they were locked in and doing a great job executing the gameplan and keeping the ball out of the paint.”
But Terry certainly has emerged as the catalyst, shooting 8-12 tonight (66.7%) from the field en route to her career high performance. For Terry, however, she attributes her game to the faith her teammates placed in her to the run the offense from the point position.
“I really feel more comfortable, but it really was because of my teammates,” said Terry. “This past week I gained trust with them. Now that I’m on the floor, I feel comfortable and I’m not panicking. I’m not jittery like it was before.”
“[Terry] is the nicest kid you’ll ever meet and she was too nice when she started,” added Fleming. “Now she’s got a little more swagger and a little more confidence and that’s shown in her play.”
The Bonnies started off the game very similarly to the way they started off their back-to-back victories in Orlando through the establishment of a large lead in the first quarter.
During this first quarter, however, the Bonnies established a lead and defense, very early, shutting out Stony Brook and heading into the second quarter with a 10-0 lead.
“That was kind of the message before the game- ‘you started so well, let’s do it again,’” said Fleming. “They did a great job. They’ve come out with more energy, with more intensity than the other team the last three games. They look like they’re having fun and that’s great to see and I’m just really proud of the way they’re starting.”
The Bonnies would struggle to establish a dominant lead however, only leading by 10 heading into halftime with the score 22-12.
“I didn’t know why [the Bonnies couldn’t score], because the defensive energy was really good. And I know you have those games where it’s like that they say like in golf matches if you’re up 5-4, then you kinda put your foot on the gas. It’s the same thing. We were just running our basic motion offense and we just weren’t getting our flow. We never made those shots around the basket.”
The saving grace, however, was Stony Brook’s only offensive struggles, as the Seawolves would shoot a combined 13-57. However, they would retrieve 13 offensive rebounds and force the Bonnies to turn over the ball 13 times.
“There were probably six-seven rebounds I was disappointed in,” said Fleming. “We keep seeing it on film and it is something we focus on in practice. Our guards have to rebound better, long. We catch them too many times watching the flight of the ball and not boxing out their kid. For us to compete in the rugged A-10 it’s something that we can’t constantly keep getting outrebounded.”
However, the Bonnies are hitting a consistent streak with another home matchup next Tuesday against Bucknell at 7 p.m. on the docket and with A-10 play looming in just a few short weeks.
And, heading into December, there couldn’t be a better time for the player known to the team and Fleming as “JT” to heat up.
“She’s competing and she understands that she’s good enough now and now we’re rolling because of it,” Fleming said. “She got a little meaner, which is a good thing.