[Armelia Horton and Jennie Ashton are just two Bona seniors who were under recruited, but are now part of the winningest class in program history – Photo by Kenny Nguyen]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
On a day the St. Bonaventure Bonnies moved their record to an impressive 25-2, 12-0 with a 66-48 victory over the Xavier Musketeers , it was another aspect of the game that garnered the most attention.
It was also Senior Day for the Bonnies as they honored the winningest class in program history with 93 wins and counting.
This senior class has recorded four consecutive 20-win seasons, three Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearances and a likely NCAA Tournament bid this season.
Facing a disappointing Xavier (7-18, 4-8) squad, the Associated Press No. 22 team did what it had to do, dismantling the Musketeers, 66-48, in front of a season-high 3,824 fans at the Reilly Center.
Megan Van Tatenhove, Jessica Jenkins, Armelia Horton and Jennie Ashton were all under recruited and undervalued except to the Bona coach.
“We’re never going to win the lay-up line because we’re not flashy, and people look past us,”Bonnies coach Jim Crowley said. “It will always be our mentality. We will always have that chip on our shoulder.”
Ask the Musketeers how they feel about Van Tatenhove following her 10-for-18, 24-point, seven-rebound performance.
“Not only are they great players, but they really put in the work to develop their games to become the players they are now and lead them into the situation they are now,” Xavier coach Amy Waugh said of Van Tatenhove and Jenkins.
[Related: Photos from St. Bonaventure vs. Xavier game]
Luckily for the Bona program, Crowley saw the potential in each one of the players and set out to get them.
However, even he did not foresee the success that would follow.
“I really hope people realize the rarity of what these kids did,” Crowley explained. “What they have accomplished may never be repeated again.”
Even though they have set numerous program records, they credit the foundation that was laid before them by previous players for the success that has come their way.
“They beat us up everyday in practice,” Jenkins said smiling. “I think we learned from that and we knew it was probably the hardest stuff we would go through, but in the long run it was going to pay off.”
Van Tatenhove agreed.
“I was scared of them,” Van Tatenhove said of the seniors. “They did a good job of intimidating, so that definitely helped out.”
Also the key to their success is hard work. Each player continues to work hard to try to improve the weakest part of her game.
Jenkins is always the first one on the court, around four hours prior to game time, practicing her shot, making sure she is ready to supply offensive firepower.
But it’s Ashton who is the perfect example of a player Crowley coverts.
“Jennie has improved every year because she now knows her role,” Crowley said. “She goes in, plays great defense and grabs rebounds. She’s an invaluable piece to our team.”
Ashton does not supply the eye-popping statistics that make fans drool, but she does the dirty work that leads to second-chance Bona points.
With the A-10 Tournament in front of them plus a postseason tournament on the horizon, Horton said her favorite memory will not be matched.
“The comeback from our first WNIT game against South Florida,” Horton said beaming. “Those students came out and supported us for what was the biggest game in program history and the atmosphere was like nothing we experienced before.”
This Bonnies senior class has set numerous records, but they have one more program-first to add to their legacies, an NCAA Tournament appearance.