Walker Sets Example For Young Bona Squad

[Alaina Walker drives to the basket against Indiana last season and has to do more of the same this year as one of the team leaders – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @jpinter93

After an injury to senior Chelsea Bowker, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team is down to one four-year player—Alaina Walker.

Walker, having started every game her sophomore and junior seasons, will lead this young Bona team and she relishes the chance.

“(Chelsea and I) came in together and even though we can’t leave together, we’re both experienced,” said Walker. “With having six new freshmen on the team, that’s what you need.”

The Bonnies will look to Walker, a guard, for her leadership but also for her rebounding and defense. She was named to the 2012-13 Preseason Second-Team All-Big Four.

As a junior, Walker averaged career-high totals of 6.3 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. She had double-digit rebounds three times last season.

“Hopefully that’ll be her legacy going forward,” said assistant coach Ryan Gensler. “She’ll be able to continue doing that during the year and be real aggressive on both ends of the court.”

In the Atlantic 10’s preseason predictions, the Bonnies were picked to finish seventh in the 16-team league. Walker admits that the team’s biggest obstacle this year shouldn’t be talent.

“It’s just getting out there and not worrying about the little things and distractions,” Walker said. “Just tune that out and go out every day and play hard, play with consistency and I think the results will take care of themselves.”

Last year, the Pomona, N.Y. native was one of two players to start every game. The other, Jessica Jenkins, is playing professionally in Iceland after many regarded her as a potential WNBA prospect.

Walker’s defense has continued to pace the Bonnies. The A-10 coaches picked her for the Preseason All-Defensive Team, an honor that she takes pride in.

“My expectations are even higher than they were last year,” she said.

Gensler seems to agree with Walker. He believes that one of the best defensive players in the A-10 is a great leader for the younger girls.  

“If she is making it tough for the freshmen to bring up the ball then they are learning against one of the best defenders in the league,” said Gensler. “Staying consistent with that effort everyday sends a powerful message that should ripple down to the underclassmen that hey, I have to bring it just as strong everyday with that consistent effort.”

Walker believes that having six freshmen and three new starters on the team can have a big impact on the season. The atmosphere will definitely be different than last year’s.

“I’m taking more of a leadership role and trying to get back to the point we were at last year,” she said. “And that’s either being shown through my effort, my defensive play or just being more vocal. That’s what I have to do.”

And if Walker can continue to lead by example, the freshmen will pick up the system faster and the learning curve becomes shorter for the young but talented Bona squad.

[Photos by Melissa Scott]

St. Bonaventure University students, staff and the surrounding community put together one last send-off for the women’s basketball team as they headed to the Sweet 16 to play Notre Dame in the women’s NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies lost to the Irish on March 25 (79-35), but their accomplishments throughout the 2011-2012 season will not be forgotten for years to come. 

[Photos by Melissa Scott and Kenny Nguyen]

SBU and its community welcomed back the women’s basketball team from Tallahassee today. The women beat Marist (66-63) to advance further in the NCAA Tournament. 

Column: Dynamic Duo leads Bonnies into A-10 Finals

[Photo by Daulton Sherwin]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13 Pin It

PHILADELPHIA- In what has been a record setting season thus far, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies reached another milestone with their 78-52 victory over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in Hagan Arena.

The victory in the semifinal round of the Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament moved the Bonnies (29-2) into the finals for the first time in program history. 

Credit has to be given to the dynamic duo of Megan Van Tatenhove and Jessica Jenkins, who combined to score 49-points, just three shy of the entire Hawks team.

Van Tatenhove scored early and often as she dominated the post and took advantage of the absence of St. Joseph’s best interior defender, Samira Van Grinsven, who had two quick fouls.

“We wanted to get her touches,” Crowley said. “We thought it was a favorable matchup.”

[Related: Video of Crowley, Jenkins, Van Tatenhove, Horton talking about SJU and Dayton games]

Van Tatenhove used an assortment of moves to devastate the Hawks defense. Pump-fakes, dips, up and unders and spin moves were all on display to those in attendance. 

She went 9-of-17 from the field including 1-for-2 from 3-point range en route to scoring 27-points.

It was the senior’s dominance inside that opened things up for the Bonnies on the perimeter, especially for Jenkins.

Jenkins, utilizing the space given to her because of Van Tatenhove, knocked down three 3-pointers in the opening half. 

“Every time she shoots it I know it is going in,” Van Tatenhove said. 

But maybe the most impressive of Jenkins game-high four 3-pointers was the lone one she hit in the second half.

With 9:17 remaining in the game and the Bonnies up 50-40, St. Joseph’s Ashley Prim drove to the lane looking to bring the Hawks to within eight.

But Jenkins was waiting for her.

She stripped the ball for a steal, dribbled up the court and spotted up for the 3-pointer, buried it and effectively ended a Hawks rally. 

That steal prompted a 17-5 Bonnies run that ended the Hawks chances and turned the game into a laugher. 

“There a lot of people who make shots,  but there are not a lot of people who can make big shots,” Crowley said.

Luckily for the Bonnies, Jenkins is one of those players. 

Jenkins shot 7-of-11 from the field including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, finishing with 22-points.

But it was not all Van Tatenhove and Jenkins.

Alaina Walker provided a spark of her own when on a loose ball she dove to the floor, fully extending her body to gain possession.

“That is the backbone of who we are,” Crowley said. “We can control how hard we play and the clock doesn’t matter, the score doesn’t matter, the opponent doesn’t matter and our kids believe that.”

The Bonnies will bring the same intensity into the finals for a rematch with the Dayton Flyers, a team they beat on the road, 56-55.

One step away from an A-10 Championship, the Bonnies will continue to play their game, following the lead of their dynamic duo.

The Intrepid’s Melissa Scott (@lissa_michelle_) and Kenny Nguyen (@KennyT_Win) took photos from No. 22/25 St. Bonaventure’s 66-48 victory against Xavier Saturday.

[Related – Column: Van Tatenhove shines brightest on Senior Day]

[Related – Behind the Wolfpack: Bona seniors cementing their legacies]

Column: Anyone, any time, every time

[The 5-foot-9 Alaina Walker goes up to block the 6-foot Genevieve Okoro Wednesday at the Reilly Center – Photo by Melissa Scott]

The Bonnies win with a balanced offense and stout defense Wednesday, from its starters to its reserves

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13

Coach Jim Crowley made sure everyone in the media room knew about his team.

“Our kids have a willingness to play hard,” he said.  

Richmond jumped out to a five-point lead in less than three minutes in — the first time a team has led against the Bonnies in three games.

But the Bonnies, from the starters to every reserve, dived for every loose ball, fighting off a taller Richmond team en route to 10 first-half offensive rebounds and a 10-point halftime lead because of a 14-4 run to close the half.

The score read 75-59 in the end, the sixth game in a row where St. Bonaventure (17-2, 4-0) had a higher number, second game in a row with only six turnovers, but the first time they did it with a statement in front of its home crowd since winter break.

“That’s a really good basketball team we had success against tonight,” Crowley said. “And hopefully people on the national scene recognize how good they are.”

Richmond (14-4, 2-2), the second best team standings wise Wednesday in the Atlantic 10 Conference, forced the Bonnies off its usual perimeter-shooting-heavy game.

The Spiders even forced senior Megan Van Tatenhove, who sat out much of the first and second halves with foul trouble (11 minutes), off the court. 

However, Richmond, who forces 18 turnovers per game, was unable to create opportunities that they are so accustomed of creating. 

Offensively, the Spiders came into the game shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line, but St. Bonaventure held them to 16.7 percent. 

Rachael Bilney, who scored 32 points against George Washington earlier this month, took only four shots in 35 minutes. 

“I was terrified of her,” Crowley said of Bilney. “But Alaina (Walker) didn’t let her get anything easy.”

Walker guarded Bilney like a shutdown corner, forcing her to be a non-factor for the Spiders. 

Crowley said there are two things he can always count on with Walker: “She plays her butt off, and she competes.”

Walker did those two things, and then some Wednesday night, as Bilney only had two points on 1-of-4 shooting and four rebounds. 

Walker’s five offensive rebounds, along with four from Jennie Ashton, helped St. Bonaventure shoot 12-more shots then the Spiders. 

It is that hustle that separates a win from a loss. 

“The ability to get offensive rebounds and generate some extra opportunities really allowed our kids to feel comfortable seeing the ball go through the basket,” Crowley said. 

A story of the season thus far has been stepping up. One game it is CeCe Dixon, another it is Chelsea Bowker. 

Wednesday was Ashton and Jordan McGee, especially in the first half when St. Bonaventure was trailing, Crowley said. 

It is that ability to have bench players who can step up in dire situations that makes this St. Bonaventure team so fun to watch — but not for its opponents.

Anyone on the team, any time a player is needed, can step up for the Bonnies every time.

If that’s not a definition of a true team, I don’t know what is.

Hard work pays off, especially for a team sitting on top of the A-10, one looking destined for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.


Junior Alaina Walker scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed four rebounds Saturday in the 61-53 win versus Duquesne (12-4, 0-1).

St. Bonaventure (14-2, 1-0) starts its Atlantic 10 Conference play with a win and won nine of its last 10 games.

Walker, who scored 14 of her career-high 18 points in the second half versus Sacred Heart Wednesday, gave The Intrepid an interview.

[Photo by Tony Lee, @sHecKii]