Women’s basketball: #Bonnies snap Wisconsin-Green Bay’s 22-game regular season win streak

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13 

In the Bonnies season opener against North Carolina State last Friday night they fell behind.

Instead of fighting back, the Bonnies fell apart.

A week later the Bonnies found themselves in a similar situation against Wisconsin-Green Bay, but this time coach Jim Crowley’s team responded with a 68-62 victory.

“(I’m) just really proud of our kids’ effort,” said Crowley. “Obviously we didn’t start well. We dug that big hole, and we just weren’t playing hard enough.”

The Phoenix (1-1) led by 16 points with less than nine minutes left in the first half, but the Bonnies cut that lead to four points by halftime — and then took control in the second half which Crowley credits to defense.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: #Bonnies snap Wisconsin-Green Bay’s 22-game regular season win streak”

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”

Women’s basketball: Sophomores Healy, Michael to lead #Bonnies

By Matthew Strauss 

There is one word that will be most commonly used to describe the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team this season: young.  On a squad of 11 women, there are two graduate students, one senior and eight players that are either freshmen or sophomores.

In addition to that, neither of the graduate students appeared in games last year.  Chelsea Bowker was injured and Jillian Murphy is entering her first season on the team after four years as a member of the Bonnies softball team.  That leaves the lone senior, Ashley Zahn who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, and five now-sophomores as the only players to have seen collegiate action last season.

So will they be able to come out of the gate strong, especially with an early matchup with preseason No. 1 UConn just over two weeks into the season? The Bonnies are confident they will, and they have reason to be.

The Bonnies have a pair of sophomores that quite resemble a duo well loved by Bonnies fans that took everyone on a wild run that resulted with an Atlantic-10 regular season championship and a Sweet 16 matchup with national power Notre Dame.  Anyone watching this year’s team will certainly see glimpses of Jessica Jenkins and Megan Van Tatenhove in current sophomores Emily Michael and Katie Healy.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Sophomores Healy, Michael to lead #Bonnies”

Women’s Basketball: Rueter, Little should give #Bonnies big boost this season

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

Last year Emily Michael and Katie Healy gave the Bonnies a boost as freshmen.

This year classmates Hannah Little and Nyla Rueter should provide the Bonnies another one.

The Bonnies beat Edinboro in an exhibition game 65-43 on Saturday afternoon.

Healy, Little and Rueter each scored 15-plus points, while head coach Jim Crowley leaned on Michael to be the floor general.

The first half belonged to Rueter.

“She is a really good weapon—she can handle the ball, she can shoot it, she can get to the rim,” said Crowley. “And she is getting better defensively.”

Continue reading “Women’s Basketball: Rueter, Little should give #Bonnies big boost this season”

Behind The Wolfpack: Bonnies’ Recent Play Gives Hope For The Future

[St. Bonaventure may be on the outside looking in at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but recent play has given hope for the future – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]

By Ryan Lazo, Editor-in-Chief, @RMLazo13

BRONX, N.Y. — Everyone knew it would be tough for St. Bonaventure to even come close to experiencing the same type of success they had during last season’s magical run to the Sweet 16, but the surprise is success now comes in small increments.

The Bonnies compiled a 31-4 record, capturing the regular season Atlantic 10 Conference champion crown and one Jessica Jenkins’ 3-pointer from being the outright champs, but fell short in the tournament finals against Dayton. Graduating three senior starters in Megan Van Tatenhove, Jenkins and Armelia Horton, part of the winningest class in program history, didn’t help either.

However, this Bona squad still had six players returning from last year’s squad, three of which who figured to be instrumental in continuing the winning tradition. But injuries struck, knocking Chelsea Bowker and her career 39 percent 3-point shooting out for the season.

CeCe Dixon averaged 7.6 points per game last season and was expected to pick up some of the scoring slack, but while she has modestly improved her points per game average to 8.4, it has not been the improvement Bona had hoped.

Dixon’s struggles have mirrored the struggles of the team —  a season once full of hope turned to one of lessons to be learned. And against a Fordham squad that eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the first time in program history, school was in session once again.

Bona won the opening tip and as almost as quick as they gained possession, Fordham struck quick by capturing an early 12-4 advantage. But as Bona has done all season, they fought back almost immediately and this run was led by Dixon.

The 5-foot-3 guard nailed two 3-pointers including one in which she was fouled on and completed a conventional 4-point play to cut the deficit to 12-11.

“That’s us,” Bona coach Jim Crowley said of his young team. “That’s been the most frustrating part of this season is that we haven’t embraced that. But in the last three games at least, we have. We can control how hard we play. We may not be great shooters, but we can play really hard and give ourselves a chance.”

Yes, small baby-steps for these Bonnies.

Slowly, but surely they have learned to play hard no matter what the scoreboard might say or the situation is dictating. It’s a trademark of a Crowley coached team and it finally surfaced in a loss to No. 14 Dayton last week.

Trailing by 13 points with just 37 seconds remaining, the Bonnies fought to the bitter end, stealing inbounds passes and swishing threes with ruthless efficiency to pull as close as 65-61. But that was as close as they would come.

Against Fordham, Bona trailed 41-27 at the half only to roar out of the locker room on a mission. After their No. 14 ranked 3-point defense surrender nine 3-pointers in the first half, Bona locked down and contested every shot. It was their defense which fueled the offense as they went on a 20-7 run to open up the half.

But once again, their comeback efforts were for not as they could not finish the deal.

“It’s good to see them buying in,” Crowley said. “We’ll see if they continue to and that can give us some real good momentum as we head into the offseason.”

The dreaded offseason word.

Yes, the defending regular season A-10 Champions were officially eliminated from the A-10 Tournament with last night’s loss, leaving them on the outside looking in after an historical season.

But Crowley had a point.

While the success may not be easy to find on a grisly 9-19 record, including nine losses in a row, progress is being made.

Crowley has overseen rebuilding projects before and is doing so once again. For three consecutive seasons, Bona’s head man oversaw a nine-win team, but then something clicked. The team no longer feared opponents and their play improved much like it’s doing again.

The last freshmen class turned into the winningest in program history. While it would be unfair to compare the two, there are plenty of similarities between them and it begins with Katie Healy.

Healy has improved as she has played more games, especially within conference play. The freshman forward is second on the team, averaging 11 points and nabbing 6.8 rebounds per contest. However, it’s her game, one that includes polished footwork in the paint and a deft touch from the outside that has made some to compare her to Van Tatenhove.

Emily Michael has not scored a lot this season, but she has started in 20 consecutive games, becoming a reliable option for Crowley. The Ohio native continually makes the right decisions and plays tough defense with an ability to hit from the outside at a 30 percent clip.

Even Nyla Rueter has come alive in conference play, scoring a career-high 15 points against Charlotte. Her 38 percent shooting from the field will only improve as she becomes more confident in her stroke.

Add to them the return of Dixon, Bowker and Doris Ortega who leads the Bonnies in points per game, rebounds and assists and suddenly the team looks promising once again.

“We know what they can be, but we don’t see it on a consistent basis,” Crowley said after his team’s loss to Fordham. “It’s been good the past couple of games where we’ve seen that consistent effort. Now that we have that and as we head into the offseason, we can really focus on getting people better.”

A win against La Salle won’t mean anything to the Bonnies record, but it would send Bona into the offseason on a high note, setting the stage for a rapid turnaround next season with a group who has learned how to compete in the A-10 Conference.


Bona Freshmen Show Promise In Loss To Charlotte

[Katie Healy goes to work in the post for two of her 14 points on the night in a Bonnies loss to Charlotte]

By Joe Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13

After seeing their two-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, St. Bonaventure returned to the Reilly Center last night to take on the streaking Charlotte 49ers.

Charlotte, winners of six of their last seven heading into the action, used their imposing height to keep the Bonnies off the boards and earned a 64-57 victory.

While the result was not what the Bonnies wanted, the play of the freshmen helped ease the storm clouds that were hovering overhead. Nyla Rueter scored a career-high 15 points, while Katie Healy also dropped in 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace the Bona offense.

Emily Michael did not have the offensive night her fellow classmates did, hitting just one three on the night, but she logged 37 minutes of action while playing steady defense and running the offense to perfection.

The trio of freshmen, the future of this Bona (9-12, 2-4) team, each played over 30 minutes.

“They know we are never satisfied,” said Crowley. “They know we are going to stay on them.”

Rueter, is just her third start, had the poise of a four-year starter throughout the game.

She consistently attacked the basket, breaking down Charlotte’s defense and helping find some open teammates in addition to putting in some acrobatic layups.

“We needed Nyla(Rueter) to have a good game today and I have been very difficult to her the last few days and she responded and now does she do it again?” said Crowley. “And that is the consistency factor.”

Crowley stressed getting to the rim during preparation for the game against Charlotte and Rueter put the plan in motion.

“Coach wanted us to keep attacking the rims,” said Rueter. “Because when we attack the rim we draw fouls and he wanted us to get free points with stopping the clock.”

Crowley knows what his freshmen are capable of, and in a game where Alaina Walker ran into foul trouble in the first half and Ortega was suffocated on offense, Crowley needed his freshmen more than ever.

“I feel like they’re getting better and that is our job is to keep making them get better and never be satisfied cause they’re getting more minute, or getting more points, or any of that garbage,” said Crowley. “They got to keep getting better and they have the right mindset for that.”

Despite being undersized, the Bonnies hung tough with the 49ers on the glass.

Although Charlotte outscored St. Bonaventure 40-20 in the paint, thanks in large part of the 18-point second half for six-foot-three senior Jennifer Hailey, the Bonnies nearly won the rebound advantage (44-40.)

“Height’s great, effort is better,” said Crowley. “We played really hard. We battled, we scraped—we found a way.”

There are no moral victories in basketball, but St. Bonaventure proved their toughness, competitiveness and grit during a hard-fought, 37-foul called conference game.

“We played really hard and as long as we are playing hard,” said Crowley. “I feel good about where we are going.”

And it all begins in practice.

“Hard effort during practice is all coach wants and if we do that regularly in practice it will carry over to games and hopefully it’ll find us success,” said Rueter.

“I think in practice it shows that we do go hard; we might not make the shots that we are good at but we constantly go hard,” said Healy. “The pace we go at in practice gets us all going.”

The pace allowed the Bonnies to hold their own against a very aggressive basketball team.

Charlotte did, however, force the Bonnies to shoot 31.7 percent from the field for the game, and although the Bonnies cut the 49ers lead to as little one with 16:45 remaining in the second half and four with 3:48 left in the game, the Bonnies could not get over the hump and make the big shot.

“Consistency with our shots is just going to come with time,” said Healy.

Lucky for Crowley these freshmen will be here for another three and half years.


Bonnies grab another win after a late start

By Joe Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13

St. Bonaventure once again started off slow and fell behind early, but a whole-sale change by Bona head coach Jim Crowley jumpstarted the Bonnies as they defeated Colgate 54-45.

Senior guard Alaina Walker helped carry the Bonnies with 15 points and seven rebounds on the night, showing glimpses of what she is capable of on a regular basis.

“She (Walker) can do that every game,” Crowley said. “I thought she went to the basket well.”

St. Bonaventure fell behind 10-1 before the first media timeout, prompting Crowley to remove each one of his five starters.

“It has been a theme,” Crowley said. “We needed a spark.”

In each game this season, the Bonnies trailed from essentially the opening tip, lacking the passion they need.

“It was most disappointing because it has been a problem,” Crowley said. “It is something we’ve talked about. It was a challenge.”

Freshmen and seldom-used players from last year have helped the Bonnies in these situations.

Freshman Katie Healy hit two free throws; Nyla Rueter and Tatiana Wilson made layups to bring the Bonnies back within three points almost immediately upon entering the contest.

Then Crowley looked to his starters to deliver off the bench.

The instant Ashley Zahn re-entered the game, she knocked down a 3-pointer, and then seconds later, she hit another one.

“That is a kid who is used to coming off the bench, so she kind of settles herself down, comes back in and makes some things happen,” Crowley said.

After Carole Harris tied the game for Colgate (1-2) at 12 with 10:01 left in the first half, the Bonnies went on a 19-8 run to end the half.

The Bonnies built a 22-point lead after two free throws from Walker in the second half.

“The way we started the second half was outstanding, and then we tailed off,” Crowley said.


Column: Team Effort Leads To Big Win

[St.Bonaventure regroups in the huddle following a timeout – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joseph Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13

Take this scenario — What happens when Alaina Walker and Doris Ortega combine to shoot 1-for-10?

It means that the Bonnies must have lost, right?

Not even close.

The Bonnies beat Binghamton 61-34 in front of 1,121 spectators to open their season.

After trailing 12-11 with 11:03 remaining in the first half, the Bonnies went on a 22-6 run to end the half.

Katie Healy was a reason why.

In her first collegiate game, Healy torched the Bearcats defense with 8 first half points.

“I saw that some of the players were struggling,” Healy said after the game. “And my coaches told me that I need to step it up, really bring some energy.”

Healy provided the necessary offensive spark around the midway mark of the first half by utilizing her distinct height advantage.

“Katie gave us a presence inside,” Bona head coach Jim Crowley said of his freshman.

Healy’s inside presence gave the Bonnies open shots, which junior Ashley Zahn didn’t pass up.

Zahn, who scored a career-high 14 points, provided two 3-pointers and three deep 2-pointers.

But the junior wasn’t hot from the get-go, missing her first two 3-point attempts before settling down.

“Me and coach talked about this week is how you forget about your misses, you correct them and then you keep going from there,” Zahn said.

Zahn also talked about team defense.

“In the exhibition game we had trouble helping off the post, so we worked on that all this week,” said Zahn. “(We) really drilled it.”

A player who stepped up on defense was freshman Emily Michael.

Michael had two steals and played great on-ball defense on the Bearcats’ Stephanie Jensen.

“I am really confident in Emily’s abilities, so is the team,” said Crowley. “We know we are going to get effort and we know she has really good feet.”

Michael, who also had three assists and two 3-pointers in her college debut, realized the importance of team defense.

“As a team, we work on defense all the time and it is really what we feed off of to get our offense going,” Michael said.

Michael’s ball pressure helped force 16 Bearcats’ turnovers that resulted in 22 Bona points.

“A goal I set for myself and the team was that I was going to bring it on defense and I think today is worked out,” Michael said.

Defense has been the staple of Crowley’s system for years and the Bonnies tied a school record held by last year’s team by allowing just 34 points.

Even while many saw glimpses of a defense that finished first in the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense last year, Crowley was not pleased.

“We made a lot of mistakes defensively in the second half. We were very fortunate they missed some easy shots,” Crowley said. “But that’s what first games are for.”

Crowley had an important message to his team after the win.

“I told them after this game, they’re never going to satisfy me, but as long as they’re working really hard to satisfy each other and understand that accountability then we will be fine with whatever the scoreboard says.”