By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
St. Bonaventure women’s basketball head coach Jesse Fleming described coming into Tuesday night’s home matchup with La Salle very confident after what he thought was a successful week of preparation.
“I thought we had had a good couple days and that we looked good in practice,” said Fleming.
However, after struggling to find an offensive rhythm throughout the entire game, the Bonnies (9-15, 4-8 A-10) combined to go 15-of-54 from the field and 1-of-10 from beyond the arc, dropping their third straight game to the Explorers in a 57-45 loss at the Reilly Center.
“I’m just disappointed and embarrassed by that effort today. I just didn’t expect it,” Fleming said after the loss. “I don’t know what happened and that’s on me.”
The Bonnies struggled to get the offense going early, shooting a combined 5-of-27 from the field in the first half, but were able to stay in the game thanks to La Salle’s own struggles as the Explorers would head into halftime with a 20-19 lead, shooting only 7-of-27. The offensive struggles from both teams would be highlighted by a near six-minute combined scoring drought following a Jalisha Terry free throw at the 7:22 mark. La Salle standout guard Amy Griffin ended the scoreless streak with a jump shot at the 1:27 mark.
“Even I didn’t think we defended that well,” said Fleming on the second quarter drought. “I thought [La Salle] just missed their looks. I just didn’t think we were locked in either way.”
Size also plagued the Bonnies, despite preparations to compensate for a lack of size, as La Salle blocked eight St. Bonaventure shots.
“I kinda downsized early,” said Fleming. “I thought we would be able to take advantage of a four guard team and I thought we would be able to space them and put it in our favor and we just never did. We missed so much at the basket that by the time in the second half, I think we were seeing ghosts a little bit thinking there was going to be a shot blocker there and they took advantage.”
Griffin, who finished with 18 points, ended up causing trouble for the Bonnies all night as she shot 7-of-14 from the field, grabbing 11 boards en route to the Explorer victory.
“She’s good,” Fleming said of Griffin. “The kid might be the best player in our league. She’s impressive … What I liked about her is that she’s not 100 miles an hour. She’s smooth, she settles into her shots, she’s long and can guard …. that kid is just a good player. I wish she was a senior.”
Though unconventional, Mariah Ruff led St. Bonaventure with 18 points, although she only knocked down her first of seven three-point shots, while also finishing 6-17 from the field.
“She played hard and everything, but I don’t think she played that well. I think she’ll even tell you that,” Fleming said of Ruff. “She could play better. Her teammates need to screen for her better and I think she was another kid that the shot blocking affected her, but I give her a ton of credit for continually attacking.”
With the Bonnies now moving forward to their second-to-last home matchup against St. Louis on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Reilly Center, Fleming is hopeful the Bonnies will be able to finish out the home stretch of the conference schedule on a high note.
“I thought some things went poorly for us and we didn’t react well,” said Fleming. “I’ve got to find a way to fix that because this was just a disappointing effort.”