(Gabby Richmond Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
In her four years as head coach of the Saint Louis women’s team, Lisa Stone had never won a game at the Reilly Center.
“I’ve never come to Olean and jogged around the campus and left this place happy,” said Stone, following the Billikens’ 74-58 rout of the Bonnies on Saturday afternoon. “This will be a happy flight home. I’m really proud of our kids.”
The Bonnies (9-16, 4-9 A-10) struggled early as Saint Louis started 12-of-16 from the field in the first quarter thanks to 12 early points from Jackie Kemph, who would finish with 20. And, while St. Bonaventure kept it close, only trailing 26-16 after the first quarter, the Billikens (20-6, 10-3 A-10) would hold the Bonnies to only four points in the second quarter, heading into halftime with a 36-20 lead. That lead would set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Saint Louis is better than us,” Fleming openly said following the loss. “Jackie Kemph is a great player …. They just have a lot of pieces. I was disappointed with our fight in the middle of the game. I thought we finished stronger just like out there.
“We’ve got to get back to defending and playing for each other a little more … we’ve just got to keep working.”
Positively, the Bonnies did hold Saint Louis, typically a 36 percent three-point shooting team, to just 3-of-24 from beyond the three-point line. They also, impressively, out-rebounded Saint Louis 35-34, which Fleming attributed to strong play from Gabby Richmond and Mckenna Maycock on the inside.
“There were some good things there,” said Fleming. “With [Saint Louis] shooting 50 percent, there weren’t a lot of rebounds to be had. Eight offensive rebounds shows our effort a little bit there. There were some positive things mixed in there. But, when it really mattered, we just didn’t have it.”
The Bonnies did also receive solid contributions from Mariah Ruff and Gabby Richmond, who finished with 18 and 20 points, respectively. The performance from St. Bonaventure’s duo of upperclassmen has been something that Stone has gotten used to coaching against.
“I think they’re great players,” said Stone after joking that she had seen them for “too many years”. “[Ruff] is great off the ball. She hunts her shot. You look at them statistically and she’s going to take 100-150 shots more than anyone else. [Richmond] is just a handful down low. She’s had a really bright career. She’s played well in the system. She did for [former St. Bonaventure] Coach [Jim] Crowley and she is for [Jesse Fleming].”
While Ruff and Richmond had a great afternoon, offensively, the Bonnies received very little contribution from their remaining three starters in that of Terry, Hart, and Britvar as they combined to go for 7 points.
“I’ve got to back off of them,” Fleming said of specifically Hart and Terry. “My freshmen are out of gas. That’s the only thing that I can come up with and it’s both ends of the floor … I’ve got to find a way to get their legs back to get them through the rest of the year.”
The Bonnies now move forward to a matchup with George Washington (16-8, 9-3 A-10) on Wednesday as the conclusion of the regular season nears with just three games remaining on the schedule. For Fleming, the focus will be on finishing strong.
“It’s about us now,” said Fleming. “We’ve got three hard games to finish the regular season … We need to get in gear and compete a little bit more and not have those stretches where we get out of the game or have a 26 point first quarter. It’s got to be important to the kids to finish strong and it’s my job to figure out a way to have them finish strong and play with passion for 40 minutes.”