Quick Hits: Bonnies Second Half Rally Falls Short At Fordham

By Tim Harfmann, @TimHarf

Crawled back: Trailing 41-27 at halftime, St. Bonaventure fought back with a 16-to-2 run in the second half. The Bonnies outscored Fordham 23-21 in the half, and forced the Rams to shoot only 16% from the field (4-for-24).  

Hot From Deep: The Rams went 47 percent from long range, hitting 11 of their 23 3-point attempts, including nine of their 13 first half attempts. Fordham’s Marah Strickland (4-8) and Erin Rooney (3-6) were 50% from beyond the arc, while Abigail Corning went 2-for-3.  

No love in February: The Bonnies were unable to find love in a hopeless place, marking the first time in program history that the Brown and White were unable to be victorious during the month of February (0-6). 

CeCe for Three!: Junior CeCe Dixon led the Bonnies from three-point range, making three of her seven attempts. Prior to tonight’s game, the Queens, N.Y. native was just 3-for-19 from beyond the arc. 

“Ram”-ming Through History: In the two seasons under head coach Stephanie Gaitley, the Fordham Rams have secured double-digit victories in Atlantic-10 conference play. Prior to the 2011-2012 season, the Rams never won more than five games in a single season against their conference opponents.

Corning Glass: Fordham’s Abigail Corning tied a career-high with a game-best 14 rebounds. The junior had 15 points on the night off 5-of-8 shooting.

This One Hurts: Suffering a 62-50 loss at Fordham, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have been officially eliminated from a possible Atlantic-10 Tournament run. The Bonnies (9-19, 2-11) needed to win its last two games while both VCU and LaSalle had to lose both of their final two games. 

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[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. 

Bonnies Dream Season Ends In Sweet 16

[Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13

Flashback to Nov. 4, a day the Bonnies barely escaped Division II Edinboro in their season-opening exhibition. 

Then flash forward to Sunday and the Bonnies lost to Notre Dame, 79-35, in the Sweet 16. 

Yes, they lost to the Notre Dame team that is ranked No. 4 in the nation and is led by their star junior Skylar Diggans.

What a journey it has been for the 31-4 St. Bonaventure Bonnies.

Yesterday’s loss will not dictate how this team is portrayed.

“Forty minutes does not define our season,” Bona coach Jim Crowley said.

He is right.

The memories and moments from the season are aplenty. There is much to be pleased about in Olean, N.Y.

The Bonnies just happened to run into a more superior team in Notre Dame.

Notre Dame, led by a balanced scoring attack, had its way early on against the Bonnies and never looked back, jumping out to a quick 16-2 advantage.

“They came out ready to go,” Jessica Jenkins said of the Irish. “They were playing with a chip on their shoulder.”

It was readily apparent in the defensive pressure shown by the Irish on defense, suffocating any Bona player who dared take a shot.

They took pride in not allowing the Bonnies to get a shot off, let alone score.

And score they didn’t. 

The Bonnies only drained one field goal over the first 10:47 of the game. 

“My biggest worry the whole time was whether we could score,” Crowley said. “And obviously that came to fruition.”

Doris Ortega and CeCe Dixon, grouped together as a “package deal” when they were recruited, were the only Bonnies who found success Sunday.

Ortega finished with 11 points while Dixon chipped in 13 as the duo scored more than half of the Bonnies points.

Meanwhile, Kalya McBride led the way for Notre Dame in the first half. 

At 5-foot-11 she completely shut down the smaller Jenkins on defense and dominated her on offense.

She recoreded all 10 of her points in the first half and was one of three Irish to reach double-figures.

Kaila Turner and Natalie Novosel  also combined to score 30 points for the No. 1 seeded Notre Dame.

But Notre Dame really put the game out of reach in the second half, outscoring the Bonnies by a 44 to 22 margin.

With the win, Notre Dame will take on No. 2 seed Maryland tomorrow night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.

The final score indicates that the Bonnies historical season is over, but that is not the case.

The moments and memories will remain with the players, fans and alumni for eternity.

“Having the crowd chanting at the end of the game was special,” Jenkins said hiding back the emotion of the moment.

For the first time since 1970, a St. Bonaventure basketball program won a tournament game.

Setting numerous records along the way, the Bona women gave fans something to believe in, helping warm up the cold and harsh winters in Olean, N.Y.

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu

Column: Team effort propels Bonnies into Semifinals

[Photo by Tony Lee]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13 Pin It

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies faced some not so pretty history today in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.

The Bonnies had never advance past the the round in program history and they were up against a La Salle team that hung with them tough in a 75-57 triumph during the regular season.

This time the Bonnies also used a second half rally to beat the Explorers, 68-53 in Hagan Arena.

It looked like they wouldn’t need to rally in the second half when they jumped out to a 16-2 advantage in the games opening moments, but then they cooled down. 

Bonnies coach Jim Crowley said the Explorers changed their defensive strategy.

“I thought La Salle did a great job in the 1st half in mixing defenses,” said Crowley.

He was right.

The Explorers changed from their man-to-man defense to a 3-2 zone, limiting the Bonnies chances of going inside. Instead they settle for long-range 3-point attempts.

But La Salle had another reason for their first half success — redshirt junior Brittany Wilson.

The junior torched the Bonnies for 17-points in the games opening 20-minutes.

But that is just where this St. Bonaventure team is known to show it’s true colors.

“We are at our best when things are challenging,” said Crowley.

Coming out of the locker room on a tear, the Bonnies ripped off eight straight points and never looked back. 

“I think it was important that we jumped out quick because we kind of faded near the end of the first half,” said Megan Van Tatenhove. 

But the Bonnies would be put in a bind after Alaina Walker picked up her third foul just a few minutes into the second half.

However, Crowley’s decision to inset CeCe Dixon may have been a game-changer.

Dixon’s defense helped render Wilson effectiveless as she recorded only two more points the rest of the way.

“She (Dixon) is the 6th starter for us,” said Crowley. “I think she is the best player off the bench in the league.” 

Dixon said not playing like a team hurt them in the first half.

“In the 2nd half, we needed to play more like a team,” she said. “We wanted to win.” 

And the Bonnies did just that.

Van Tatenhove was one of five Bonnies to score in double-figures.

“We have a great group of girls,” Van Tatenhove said. “If one person isn’t stepping up or having a rough game, we have that balanced attack.” 

The Bonnies advance to the semi-finals for the first time in program history.

“We are usually heading home on Sunday,” said Crowley.

And with a team-first approach, the Bonnies continued their march to become A-10 champs.

No. 1 seed St. Bonaventure (28-2) won its opening game vs. La Salle (14-17), 68-53, in the quarter final today at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena.

Five Bonnies scored 10 points or more vs. the Explorers — Megan Van Tatenhove leading the way with 13 on 6-of-8 shooting — en route to advancing to semifinals for the first time in program history Sunday vs. Saint Joseph’s. 

[Video by Tony Lee]

Column: Bona survives scare, makes history

[Fans at the Reilly Center thank the Bonnies for a history making season – Photo by Melissa Scott]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13

History happened again on Wednesday night. 

For the first time in program history, St. Bonaventure clinched the No. 1 overall seed for the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Despite trailing by six at halftime and being out rebounded 36-to-21 by the Fordham Rams (11-17, 2-11) , like they have done all season, the Bonnies (26-2, 13-0) found a way to win.

“That’s been the story of this team,” Crowley said. “We talked at halftime, we’ve been in tough situations all year and we’ve leaned on each other. People just made plays.”

The Bonnies would defeat the Ram’s 52-45 in front of 1,812 fans at the Reilly Center. This time it was CeCe Dixon who supplied the play that turned the game around.

Her 3-pointer gave the Bonnies the lead for good with less than eight minutes to play. 

But perhaps more importantly, Jordan McGee did the dirty work for the Bonnies. 

She made all the hustle plays and played stout defense, keeping the Rams in check and the Bonnies in the game.

Unlike previous games, St. Bonaventure made things difficult for themselves, shooting only 36.4 percent in the first half.

“We made shots difficult for ourselves,” Megan Van Tatenhove said.

Fordham’s penchent for defense is what keeps them in every game. In fact, heading into last night’s game they led the conference in scoring defense, allowing only 54 points per game.

“I give Fordham a ton of credit. They play really, really hard,” Crowley said. “We knew it would be a difficult game.”

In the first half Fordham knocked down five treys, but they soon faltered in the second, not making a single 3-point attempt.

The Bonnies adjusted the game plan at halftime.

“The way we defend the ball screen,” Crowley said. “We were late with our rotations. We adjusted how we defend that.” 

The game may have been a potential scare before tournament play, but the focus should be on what they accomplished — a No. 1 seed and the first Division I team at St. Bonaventure to win a regular season title.

“It’s not supposed to happen,” Crowley said. “Look at the last fifteen years for the teams who’ve been the number 1 seed in our conference tournament. Look at the size of the school. Look at where they are located. Look at funding. You know it’s not supposed to happen and it just did.”

He can credit the seniors all he wants, and deservedly so. They have completed turned this program around. 

But Crowley ensued his trust in them and guided them to where they are today. If not for Crowley, who knows where this program would be.

In the Cinderella story of the college basketball world, the Bonnies continue to overcome any and every obstacle that comes their way. 

And as March settles in on the horizon, history is sure to be made. 

St. Bonaventure (16-2, 3-0) never trailed Saturday afternoon en route to a program-record A-10 win with a 64-52 victory over visiting Saint Louis (6-12, 0-3 A-10) at the Reilly Center.

Seniors Jessica Jenkins and Megan Van Tatenhove scored 15 and 14, respectively, to lead a Bonnies squad that committed only six turnovers. 

[Photos by Tony Lee, @sHecKii]