By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
After a disappointing loss to La Salle on Tuesday night, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team welcomes a familiar foe to the Reilly Center this afternoon as it faces off against Saint Louis (19-6, 9-3 A-10) at 1 p.m. The Bonnies were defeated by the Billikens on Jan. 11 by a score of 64-49.
“They’re an experienced team,” Bonnies head coach Jesse Fleming said. “All five kids will touch the ball on every play. They can put five scorers on the floor all at once. I like the makeup of their team.”
The Billikens are led by legendary head coach Lisa Stone, who has totalled 587 wins over her 31-year coaching career. Stone, who has led the program to great success since her hiring in 2012, is someone Fleming personally admires for her success and demeanor.
“She treats her people right,” said Fleming. “I know two of their assistants and they talk about how she’s just a pleasure to work for. She’s just a good human being. She treats people the right way. I admire the way they play … It’s not an isolation one-on-one game. They play team basketball. My personal interactions with her, she’s been nothing but kind to me and just a good person.
“If we could have 13 Lisa Stone’s in this league, we’d be in good shape.”
Leading the charge for Stone will be junior Jackie Kemph, who entered this season second on the program’s all-time career assists list with 413. The last time Kemph and the Billikens visited the Reilly Center, the Illinois native notched her career high in points with 28.
“[Kemph] is probably the best point guard in the league,” said Fleming. “[She] can really push the tempo and she’s a pass-first kid which is great for the lineup they have.”
After seeing Saint Louis once already this season, Fleming has a much better idea of the way his team will need to attack in order to keep the game close.
“We got beat one-on-one [last time],” said Fleming. “I hope we can fix that a little bit. It’s just a team that you’ve gotta do what we tell you to do. If you go against our game plan, this a team that they’re not gonna miss the open shot that you miss up … they make you pay. That’s why they’re predicted first in the league.”
On a positive note, the Bonnies have performed well against some of the conference’s top teams after a close matchup with Dayton as well as a powerful victory over Duquesne.
Fleming attributes the success to the maximum effort the team has put in game-in and game-out on the court.
“We’re playing really hard,” said Fleming on the Bonnies’ effort. “We’ve got to figure out a way to score. I thought we really in the fourth quarter against [Saint Louis] the first time around, we drove the ball at them and I think that’s something that we could have some success if we drive the ball at them. But, if we settle and if we get into an up and down game with them, they’ve got the more fire power.”
Apart from preparations for Saint Louis, Mckenna Maycock received news of an impressive educational honor this week as she was named to the College Sports Information Directors Association of America Academic All-District Women’s Basketball Team on Thursday. Maycock was the only Atlantic 10 player selected to the All-District team.
Maycock has certainly proved her worth for the Bonnies this season, shooting 60 percent from the field while averaging 7.3 points per game in Atlantic 10 play as the “sixth-woman.” There is no doubt that she will be a key element to the Bonnies game plan against a very talent laden Billikens team this afternoon.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Fleming of the sophomore, who finished with a 4.0 last semester. “She deserves it. Mckenna has been raised right … She knows the importance of academics.
“I’m just so pleased with Mckenna on and off the court this year. She’s become a confident player on and off the court and she’s been always a confident person in the classroom, but to see her get rewarded for that combination of the way she plays on the court and how she kills it in the classroom … she’s just a really bright kid, a really good kid, and I’m thrilled for her.”