Coach Fleming and crew take on rival Niagara in first test

By Isaiah Blakely

St. Bonaventure women’s basketball opens the season by playing host against Niagara University as the Bonnies look to bounce back from its 9-20 campaign last year.

Niagara, coached by Jada Pierce, finished 8-22 last season. In the last meeting however, Niagara came out victorious at home 65-43 for the first time since 2006 leaving Bonaventure with a 36-24 series lead.

Second-year coach Jesse Fleming has four new players along with five returners lead by Atlantic 10 preseason All-Conference second team selection Mariah Ruff. Ruff averaged 13.9 points, 4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season.

Also headlining the offense is fellow captain Mckenna Maycock, who only started six games last season but was second on the team in minutes. Maycock averaged 7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Sophomore point guard Jalisha Terry will look for a larger impact this season after she led Bonaventure with 18 points in their scrimmage against Edinboro. Terry averaged 7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2 assists last season.

Junior college transfer forwards Arielle Harvey and Bree Paulson are about to play their first official game for Bonaventure, while freshman Emily Calabrese looks to get action immediately after starting against Edinboro in an exhibition last Saturday.

With these new players Fleming mentioned the need “to speed up the chemistry curve.” “He was hoping that in the non-conference to have some games that really test us.” Fleming also wanted to “have games that we have a chance to win and we can just grow and learn”.

“These games are a learning experience,” Fleming said. “We need to use these so we’re hitting on all cylinders once A-10 play starts”.

Niagara is the first test and the Purple Eagles are returning three of their top scorers and nine players overall from last season led by redshirt-senior forward Victoria Rampado who lead the MAAC conference in points and was fourth in rebounds averaged 16.8 points and 7.9 rebounds. Rampado finished All-MAAC Second Team last season. Rampado lead the Purple Eagles to the victory over Bonaventure last season scoring 17 points. The 2017 MAAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll ranked the Purple Eagles to finish ninth in the conference.

St. Bonaventure was selected 12th in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches poll.

St. Bonaventure is 25-4 against Niagara at home and will look to keep up that impressive record on Friday, at 5 p.m. at Reilly Center.

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Five takeaways from St. Bonaventure University vs. Edinboro University

By Isaiah Blakely

Editor’s Note: Information about Abigail Johnson was added to the story in order to address a big event during the game and to provide transparency to our loyal readers.

In a gritty and razor-thin contest, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team was upset by the Edinboro Fighting Scots, 67-64 at the Reilly Center. While it may have only been an exhibition, a few things from the game stood out.

Here are five takeaways from the scrimmage.

1. Chemistry

With four new players it was clear it’ll take some time for this team to gel. Several offensive sets were clunky, and the team had 25 turnovers. Many of the turnovers came off miscommunication errors and players not being on the same page. You could chalk it up to preseason jitters, but the Bonnies will have to improve communication if they want to succeed this season.

2. Three point shooting

There are definitely more shooters on the floor at all times. Sophomore Danielle Migliore especially impressed, shooting 4-8 from behind the arc. Overall, the team shot 35% from three.

3. Mariah Ruff doesn’t have to carry the scoring load

Last year’s leading scorer by far, Ruff got some help as Migliore and freshman Emily Calabrese each put up double figures, while sophomore Jalisha Terry led with an 18 point effort off the bench. Ruff still scored 12 points, but struggled from the field going 3-10. Ruff should improve on those numbers as the season goes on and if the Bonnies can get more players in double figures the team could improve on their showing from last season.

4. Defensive Rebounding

Edinboro had 18 offensive rebounds, a startling stat that heavily contributed to their win. The Bonnies forwards have to do a better job of boxing out and hanging on to loose rebounds. That could depend on 6-2 forward Abigail Johnson’s health as she “appeared to faint during a stoppage of play” and hit her head on the court during the game. Johnson was transported to a regional medical facility for evaluation in a scary moment at the Reilly Center. With Johnson’s health in question, and frankly a more important issue than her basketball status, the Bonnies will need better technique from their remaining bigs if they want to win the rebound battle this season.

5. Rim Protection Edinboro had success in the paint even though they were the smaller team out-muscling the Bonnies with 14 second-chance points. The Bonnies had 3 blocks in the game, but two of them came from the guards. The bigs only mustered one block and will need to protect the paint better to improve their defense.

The Bonnies open the season with a Friday home stand vs. Niagara University at 5:30 p.m. at the Reilly Center.

Women’s basketball: More honors, more responsibility for Ruff

(Photo Credit: Cameron Hurst)

By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst

Upon finding out that she had been named to the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Third Team, Mariah Ruff was overjoyed by the news.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Ruff. “Everybody who has gotten on the (team) has shown that they deserve it, so it’s an honor for me.”

However, with the honor comes the responsibility, and the junior guard out of Oneonta, N.Y. is fully aware of the need for her to perform this year for the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team to be successful.

“I have to play up to what is expected of me now.”

Her coach feels the same way.

“Mariah is going to be asked to do so much,” said Bonnies head coach Jesse Fleming. “She’s not only gotta be a scorer, she’s gotta be a playmaker for us. She’s gotta create not just for herself, but for others. You can’t really ask much more of a player, but for us to be good, she’s gotta play that role and be consistent.”

Ruff is coming off of a season where consistency was her key, averaging 10 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists in one of the most historic seasons in the history of the program, with the Bonnies advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before being defeated by Oregon State.

However, this year, Ruff is prepared to do even more in the midst of a young team that includes five freshmen and a new head coach.

“I know what game experience is like,” said Ruff. “I know what’s going to work in a game and what’s not. I know that if our pace is bad, that’s not going to work. I know what it feels like to win, to be in a winning culture and to be able to say that we’ve been there and we know what to expect.”

In part with her veteran leadership, Ruff has also been very fond of new head coach Jesse Fleming’s on-court and off-court philosophies.

“He’s manufacturing us points,” said Ruff on the rookie head coach’s new playbook, which differs from Crowley’s open styled offense.

Additionally, according to Ruff, Fleming’s sense of humor has gone a long way in establishing a bond with the girls and lightening up the locker room.

“He’s really funny,” Ruff said. “He has a lot of jokes, and I like that relationship he’s building with us girls. We get to see him at a different level outside of basketball and it builds a relationship.”

As for her expectations this year, despite being projected to finish tenth in the Atlantic 10, Ruff still expects the Bonnies to play at a high level.

“We’re getting better and better and better. We just need to keep getting better and competing.”

If the Bonnies continue to improve, Ruff expects them to be playing their best basketball in March.

“If we’re doing that, then we can possibly win the A-10 and get a free bid into the NCAAs.”

Women’s basketball: Ruff ready to make a jump

By Josh Svetz

The transition from freshman year to sophomore year, otherwise known as “the jump,” is crucial to a player’s development. Sophomore guard Mariah Ruff knows the expectations being set on her in year two with the Bonnies.

“After the one year of being a player here in the A-10, I know what to expect,” said Ruff.

Last year, the 5-foot-9 Ruff appeared in all 30 games, averaging seven points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game. Ruff began the season coming off the bench with limited minutes. However, she started her first official game against UNC Greensboro December 17 and started at guard for the rest of the season.

Women’s basketball head coach Jim Crowley is expecting Ruff to take the leap this season.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Ruff ready to make a jump”