Bona women work through preseason; await schedule

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Sean Casey

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team still does not know exactly when it will play its first game, but that does not mean that the team has been taking practice lightly.

After eight months without a competition, the 2020-21 regular season seems within reaching distance, and the team is prepared for it. 

“There have been some recent changes to our schedule, and it’s going to come down to the wire I think,” said SBU head coach Jesse Fleming.

Regardless of when the Bonnies play, one thing we do know is that there will not be any fans in attendance at the Reilly Center this season.

“It sucks,” Fleming said. “It’s out of our control, and if people think that’s the best thing to do from a science standpoint, then I am 100% behind it. Obviously, you want to play in front of your friends and family… practicing at 6: 30a.m every day to play in front of fans. It’s a bummer and I really feel bad for the kids.”

The team has been practicing for months now, and according to sophomore guard Olivia Brown and junior guard Asianae Johnson, improvement has been noted.

“We have gotten better with our execution and transition defense,”Johnson said. “We are thriving as a team and are more connected than we were last year, knowing each other better and influencing each other in being better players.”

Brown said that she feels the team is more experienced than it was a year ago, and that they’re looking “really good.”

Experience seems to be a positive that the entire team is confident in and happy with. 

“They’ve been through the fire in a lot of close games,” Fleming said.

Johnson, who is poised to be a key contributor for the team, will continue her role as a team leader this season. Fleming recalled a story from practice in which Johnson expressed how important to teammates diving on the ground for loose balls is.

“That’s the type of leadership you don’t develop by just telling someone to be a leader or telling someone to read a leadership book,” Fleming said. “(Johnson) has been through that.” 

Johnson was named second-team preseason All-Atlantic 10, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and being noticed, but it’s always come to the point where I wouldn’t want to be second. At all,” Johnson said. “That’s always been my mindset, I wouldn’t want to be second, and I feel like I have the ability to be first team, and I have the ability to be first in every category.” 

Fleming said that Johnson is in the gym “more than anyone,” and that she “deserves it with her work and her mentality.” 

With so many questions going into this season, the team is just on working on what they can control: playing basketball and working hard. 

“We’re going to try and take it one game at a time,” Fleming said. “One game might get taken away, but we want them to have a fun time and show up and compete. “

Bona women fall to Akron, 63-54

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Keara Donnelly

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. —  The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team (1-2) started strong, but fell short to the Akron Zips (1-0), 63-54, after a disappointing second half at the Reilly Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Bonnies led the Zips by nine points at half time, but only scored 15 points in the second half. 

The Zips outscored the Bonnies with 33 points in the second half, and went on a 20-4 run to secure the victory.  

The Bonnies had led for over 38 minutes of the game.  

Deja Francis led the Bonnies with 13 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Olivia Tucker shot 3-4 from the three-point line and had 11 points off the bench.  

Dajah Logan and Jurnee President each had nine points for the Bonnies.  

Akron’s Shaunay Edmonds scored 20 points and was 6-14 from the field. She scored nine of those points and seven steals in the second half alone.  

Edmonds forced turnovers from Bona guards Francis and Olivia Brown, which led to easy transition baskets for the Zips.  

The Zips secured 18 points off of turnovers and 24 points off of fast breaks.  

The Bonnies executed well in the first half, connecting on their first six shot attempts as part of a 10-0 run in the first quarter. Akron grabbed its first lead of the game in the second quarter, 22-21.  

In the fourth quarter, the Bonnies froze to only shoot 1-for-13 from the field. 

“We did some really good things for a lot of the game and it just folded like a tent in the fourth quarter,Bonnies head coach Jessie Fleming said.  

The Bonnies shot 36.5% from the field, while the Zips shot 31.6% from the field. Akron drew 21 fouls and shot 80% from the free throw line.  

“I was happy with threes not going down and still being in the game, where we didn’t have to rely on it,” Fleming said. “We should have been living at the foul line today and we were just taking the shots that were given to us today. Great to see that we have the ability to hit 11 threes.” 

It was a close match up, but pour defense in the fourth quarter and missed shots secured the Zips victory.  

“(Akron is) a team that been playing together for a while now,” Fleming said. “I’m not sitting here being negative about this loss. We are a young team that has two sophomores in the starting lineup and two freshmen playing a lot of minutes.  

My message to the team in the locker room was to use this as a learning experience and to continue moving forward.” 

 Now, Bonnies will hit the road for the first time of the season.  

The team will play the defending Patriot League champion Bucknell Bisons at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.