photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Teddy Caputo
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team looks to end a four-game losing streak in its next A-10 matchup against the Rhode Island Rams.
In their previous game last Saturday, the Fordham Rams avoided the upset in the Reilly Center with a 53-44 victory over the Bonnies. SBU stuck close to Fordham the entire game. Both teams traded the lead back and forth five times in the first quarter. However, the Bonnies trailed 16-14 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter started off slow, with either team not scoring a basket for the first two and a half minutes. Both teams played very aggressive and scrappy defense, allowing a combined 16 points for the quarter. The Bonnies looked for the kickout three-point jumper on the dribble drive, but their shots weren’t falling. However, the Bonnies stuck close by, going into halftime tied 23-23.
In the second half, the Rams pulled ahead of the Bonnies and kept the lead for the rest of the game. The Bonnies came out playing hard and fast, but they couldn’t capitalize on their stops and missed a couple close shots that could have helped them down the stretch. They also had a few careless turnovers early on that helped give the Rams some momentum.
Head coach Jesse Fleming reflected on his team’s third quarter struggles, saying, “I thought we missed some mismatch opportunities. I thought we short armed some layups when we had their forwards against our guards. We missed a couple looks in transition as well during that stretch in the third quarter, but they did a good job guarding Mckenna.”
Although the Bonnies struggled offensively to start the second half, freshman guard Asianae Johnson (#2) caught fire. She scored six of the team’s eight third quarter points and 10 of her 12 points in the second half.
When no one could hit the bottom of the net, she stepped up and kept the Bonnies in the game when it could’ve gotten away from them fast. Coach Fleming really liked how Johnson adjusted in the second half to help the team stay in it.
“I think she is becoming a more complete player even if you take the scoring out of it. I like how she’s thinking the game a little more,” said Fleming. “There were a couple times where she missed some mismatches where she could’ve kicked to her teammates, but she’s playing a really nice floor game right now.”
Even though the Bonnies didn’t win this game, they played with a lot of heart and intensity for the full 40 minutes against the Rams. When talking to coach Fleming about his team’s effort, he thought they matched Fordham’s toughness and was proud of them for keeping the game close against one of the grittiest teams in this league.
“I didn’t think we backed down; we played very hard. I just like to see us get more contributions from more players,” said Fleming. “I think the offense will come since we have some good young players who can really score the ball. It’s always been about whether we can defend at an A-10 level, and I think we’re getting there.”
The improving defense has come with big contributions from sophomore forward Emily Calabrese (#15).
Coach Fleming was impressed with Calabrese’s performance after she missed practice the day before from a minor injury and is very happy with her play recently.
“She’s been an absolute warrior. She’s going in there, she’s rebounding, she’s battling and she’s working her tail off,” said Fleming. “She wasn’t having a great start to our season, but I’ve loved the way she’s played and the competitiveness she’s played with in the last couple weeks.”
When I asked coach Fleming what his team can take away from this game and carry into the next one, he told me he is impressed with the team’s improvement on communication, intensity and execution on defense.
“I thought we were on our P’s & Q’s, especially that first half defense,” said Fleming. “There were three of four early breakdowns where we gave up some threes, but I was so happy with how we were able to adjust and pick it up on the fly. They’re just buying into how hard we need to play, especially defensively, and that’s what I’m happiest about.”
The Bonnies hope to get their first win since February 3 against Rhode Island on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Reilly Center.