photo courtesy of gobonnies.com
By: Anthony Goss
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — “You can always defend and rebound,” St. Bonaventure women’s basketball coach Jesse Fleming said.
The Bonnies grinded out a win against rival Siena on Tuesday night at the Reilly Center 50-42. The win came in spite of poor offensive execution, according to Fleming.
“I’m not happy, as far as execution goes,” Fleming said. “I don’t think we got a lot through the offense. Against the top teams in the A10 that’s not gonna work.”
Instead, the Bonnies secured the win through suffocating defense and control of the glass. Siena shot 22% from the field and St. Bonaventure outrebounded the Saints 44-39.
Down 22-21 at the break and finding offense sparingly, the Bonnies looked for a spark in the second half. Newcomer Tianna Johnson provided a boost for her squad with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“Jesse is always on us about rebounding and crashing hard,” T. Johnson said. “If I get boards it’s just for my team.”
Senior guard Asianae Johnson helped the Bonnies close out the Saints at the end. She scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 4-4 from the foul line.
To Fleming, Johnson’s defensive efforts proved the biggest factor in winning the game.
With 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, A. Johnson drew a charge on Siena guard Amari Anthony and proceeded to draw another foul at the offensive end. She hit both free throws and tied the score at 34-34 before the fourth quarter.
“That was huge. I thought that was a big-time play by a senior,” Fleming said. “If she can do it, then everyone else on the team is gonna go and sacrifice their body.”
Siena guard Rayshel Brown had 14 points for the night. She and A. Johnson traded baskets throughout, reminding Johnson of their previous matchup in the PSAL in New York.
“It felt like high school, honestly,” Johnson said. “It was a little scuffle during but it was all love at the end of the day.”
Neither team hit shots from the outside, but St. Bonaventure capitalized in key areas. The Bonnies outscored the Saints in the paint 28-14. They also made 14 free throws to only 11 from Siena.
“Getting to the free-throw line was very much crucial to us,” A. Johnson said. “We didn’t hit a three but we made that up with getting to the line.”
The 2-0 start to the season marks the best for the Bonnies since 2012. They look to build on their hot start when they face the Cleveland State Vikings in their first road matchup of the year.