Women’s basketball: Chelsea Bowker will be remembered as a winner

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

Chelsea Bowker has hit 221 three pointers in her career, but she shouldn’t be remembered for them.

Even if that number continues to rise with two more regular season games and then whatever the postseason has in store for the Bonnies.

She has scored 10 or more points in 37 games during her career. In those games, St. Bonaventure has a 33-4 record.

Bowker’s ability to stretch the floor gave space for Megan Van Tatenhove before and Katie Healy now for one-on-one match ups.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Chelsea Bowker will be remembered as a winner”

Quick Hitters: Bonnies take down Saint Joe’s 73-67

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

Stepping Up: With Gabrielle Richmond out (leg), Hannah Little scored 13 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. She made big buckets down the stretch after Katie Healy fouled out.

Dynamic Duo: Natasha Cloud and Sara Fairbanks combined for 38 points to pace Saint Joseph’s.

Raining Threes: The Bonnies hit a season high nine triples against Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night. Chelsea Bowker tied a career high with six.

Continue reading “Quick Hitters: Bonnies take down Saint Joe’s 73-67”

Women’s basketball: #Bonnies with 19 assists in 74-59 win over Fairfield

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

Less than 48 hours after ending Wisconsin-Green Bay’s regular season win streak, the Bonnies opened and finished strong against Fairfield in a 74-59 win.

The Bonnies used a steady, balanced offensive attack — with 19 assists and five players with two or more buckets.

Chelsea Bowker hit all five the Bonnies’ triples. The redshirt senior knows her role in the offense. She stretches the floor with her jump shot, uses her court vision to find open teammates and sets picks.

As the lone healthy player from the 2012 Atlantic 10 regular season championship team, Bowker has had to adjust to playing with new players.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: #Bonnies with 19 assists in 74-59 win over Fairfield”

Women’s basketball: After missing last year’s A-10 tourney, #Bonnies try to bounce back

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

A year after advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, coach Jim Crowley found his team out of the Atlantic-10 tournament last season.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies can only learn from a roller coaster-type season.

“Hopefully the biggest help is they don’t want to do it again,” said Crowley. “You don’t want to go through that again.”

The Bonnies finished 10-19, and although a drop off had been expected with the graduation of four key players, the Bonnies looked fully capable of advancing to the A-10 Tournament before the season.

But an injury to Chelsea Bowker before the season began the downfall.

And then after the season, starters CeCe Dixon and Doris Ortega were no longer with the program after disputes with Crowley.

A silver lining, however, could be found in the development of two freshmen—Katie Healy and Emily Michael.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: After missing last year’s A-10 tourney, #Bonnies try to bounce back”

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.

Column: Bowker’s Injury A Blow To The Bonnies

[Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13

Injuries to star players and senior leaders can often cripple a team’s chances of surviving and the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is already behind the eight-ball.

Senior guard Chelsea Bowker, is set to undergo season-ending ankle surgery which will require at least six months of recovery time.

“It’s big,” Bonnies head coach Jim Crowley said. “Anytime you lose an experienced player and a talented player it is a big thing.”

Bowker was an integral member of the Bonnies Sweet 16 run last season when she averaged 7.1 points per game and shot 3-pointers at a 38 percent clip — second best on the team.

However, after rolling her ankle three weeks ago, she knew it was devastating.

“I went to the doctor and they said it was pretty bad right away,” she said emotionally. “I tried to go and I just couldn’t.”

But Bowker is not going to let the injury hamstring her from helping the team.

“I’m trying to turn this injury into something positive,” the senior said. “I can be on the sidelines to coach these freshmen.”

St. Bonaventure opens the season with an almost entirely different squad after hauling in six freshman. And with the latest injury, they will all be playing significant minutes.

“The freshmen are going to have to step up and help us out,” said junior forward Doris Ortega. “Right now, it is about us building confidence in the freshmen so they can fill Chelsea’s spot.”

And Bowker will be hard to replace.

The senior knew where to be at all times after playing in Crowley’s system and was able to stretch defenses with her 3-point shooting capabilities.

In fact, she ranks seventh all-time in St. Bonaventure history with 146 3-pointers made.

“We are going to need somebody to hit some jump shots cause that was obviously one of her most valuable things,” said Crowley.

Junior Ashley Zahn has now been in the program for three seasons and is someone that can conceivably get the first crack at Bowker’s spot.
Last year Zahn knocked down two threes against Villanova, and so far she has had a good beginning to the season by giving it her all in practice and impressing everyone from the coaching staff to Bowker.

“She has been killing it,” Bowker said of Zahn. “This is her chance to get up and shoot the ball. She just needs to keep her confidence up and put it in.”

It’s tough for any player to have to sit down with injuries, especially when they are a senior in Bowker’s case, but her teammates have helped her out throughout the process.

“They’ve been very supportive,” Bowker said. “We have to take in the best positive manner as we can.”

Despite losing a senior leader, the goals for this St. Bonaventure squad remain the same.

“What we are is what we are,” Crowley said. “People have to understand and build into some things quicker then we thought maybe they have to, but they are up for it.”

And if last season taught us anything, these Bonnies step their games up at the most crucial points and make the impossible into probable.

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu

[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. 

A-10 preview: women’s basketball

[St. Bonaventure’s 13 wins tops all Atlantic 10 Conference teams’ win totals prior to conference – Photo courtesy of GoBonnies.com]

By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13

St. Bonaventure started the 2011-12 season chosen sixth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Conference poll. On the eve before conference play, the Bonnies instead have the best record in the A-10, garnering votes in the Associated Press poll and broke a 25-year-old program record by winning 13 non-conference wins.

Do not think the Bonnies had a cupcake schedule, either. Wins at St. John’s (Nov. 12), at West Virginia (Nov. 18) and vs. Marist build a strong portfolio for the Bonnies come March.

Yes. NCAA Tournament became a reality after an undefeated record on the road.

Five of those games, including four wins, were played without senior Megan Van Tatenhove, a preseason First Team All-Conference selection. Van Tatenhove, admittedly rusty, returned in Tuesday’s win vs. Sacred Heart from concussion-like symptoms, and said she is healthy for conference play.

Because with a healthy Van Tatenhove, St. Bonaventure looks like a No. 6 seed in a NCAA Tournament region, let alone the sixth best team in the A-10.

The two losses occurred at the hands of No. 20 Delaware and No. 21 Villanova. Van Tatenhove missed the Villanova game, while starting point guard Armelia Horton was sidelined for Delaware.

Delaware has the leading scorer in the country, but Elena Della Donne needed 26 shots — the most she attempted all year — to get 26 points for Delaware in an 11-point Blue Hens win.

[Related: Podcast of press conference after the 61-49 loss to Delaware]

The reason for all this success can be attributed to the Bonnies defense. 

Only two teams have scored 60-plus points on the Bonnies, and their scoring defense is second in the A-10 with 51.3 points allowed per game. The Bonnies win with defense, hustle, and 3-point shooting.

Speaking of threes, Jessica Jenkins, a preseason Third Team All-Conference selection, dazzles the crowd and dazes her opponents with her impeccable 3-point shooting.

Van Tatenhove has sneaky range, too, but the Bonnies are not a two-women wrecking crew.

Coach Jim Crowley uses up to ten players during any given game — showing not just depth but trust.

Alaina Walker continues to astound, scoring 14 of her career-high 18 points Tuesday in the second half. The junior guard is the best on-ball defender on the team. Crowley said she does the little things that sometimes don’t fill up a stat sheet —and definitely should not be overlooked.

[Related: Video recap of St. Bonaventure winning a program-best 13th non-conference victory Tuesday]

Sophomore Doris Ortega is a physical forward who rebounds well and plays brilliant defense, but she shoots 33 percent from the field.

However, her team-leading 29 offensive rebounds make her a crucial offensive weapon. She generates second chance opportunities for herself and her teammates. Although she is a forward, her 27 assists lead the team.

The most underrated player on this team, however, might be its eldest.

Redshirt senior Armelia Horton is the heart and soul. Every year she battles through injuries, but manages to help her team win.

In fact, she has won more games than any other player in St. Bonaventure history.

At 5-feet-10, Horton is a taller guard who is able to use her size to force opposing players into difficult shots.

A knock on Horton is that she turns the ball over too frequently — leading the team with 28 turnovers. Aside from turnovers, Horton struggles with assists.

As a team, the Bonnies are dead last in assist per game with a shade under ten. Having said this, Horton might not necessarily have the glamour, but she does have desire and a track record of winning.

But it’s not just the starters who stand out.

Chelsea Bowker, who started in place of Van Tatenhove when injured, is used primarily as a 3-point specialist. Her 43.8 percentage from down town is good for thirteenth in the nation.

CeCe Dixon is a speedy, offensive point guard who gives Crowley a valuable change-of-pace weapon. She has developed a reliable 3-point shot — she made a career-best four threes on Tuesday — and is a momentum changer. As the ladder stages of the season come, Dixon could be the difference maker.

[Related: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again]

Jennie Ashton and Jordan McGee are both role players with outstanding defensive abilities.

McGee leads the team in blocks and has incredible length and athleticism. Ashton, a fan favorite, has come along way. She spent many practices battling with Dana Mitchell, the only woman to have her jersey retired at the Reilly Center. Those battles helped ripen a tough, hardworking Ashton.

Ashley Zahn is slowly developing into a consistent 3-point shooter, and if she can continue to improve, then it will give the Bonnies another formidable option from long range.

A magical non-conference season it was, but this season is far from over.

“We are going to continue to play hard,” Van Tatenhove said.

Bonaventure hosts Duquesne (12-3) Saturday in the A-10 opener for both teams. Duquesne, along with Fordham, Richmond and St. Joseph’s, will contend St. Bonaventure for a conference crown. 

Crowley said to his player that no matter what happens this point on, no one can take away what they accomplished.

The players, coaches, alumni and fans know that if this season is to be labeled a success, the Bonnies need to be dancing in March for the very first time — setting another program record when no one else but themselves thought they could do it.

“I enjoy being the underdog. I like being overlooked,” Van Tatenhove said. “We’re in a good state right now to make some noise. Thirteen wins is great for us, so I’m really excited for conference.”

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu

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