Three takeaways: Bona women fall late at St. John’s

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Sean Casey

QUEENS, NY — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball was four points away from winning its first road game since Jan. 30, 2019, in the team’s last non-conference game of the year.

In a true game of back-and-forth runs, St. John’s bested the Bonnies by a final score of 60-57. 

The Bonnies had three players reach double-digit scoring, as Asianae Johnson scored a game-high 14 points, Deja Francis scored 11 points and Tori Harris finished with 10 points.

It was a close game throughout that had many lead changes, brought out many emotions, and was hardly fought by both teams. Although the Bonnies did not get the result they wanted, there were some takeaways from the game. 

Slow Start 

The Bonnies played a solid 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter, but the first quarter was subpar. It did not seem like they came out with the energy that was needed when on the road against a bigger school such as St. John’s.

They scored only ten points in the quarter, shooting 33% from the field. They also had five turnovers, the majority of which were unforced caused by either a travel or bad pass. St. Johns also had a poor first quarter, only scoring 13 points, so if the Bonnies were able to come out with energy, the result of the game may have looked different. 

Pace of the Game 

Overall, the pace of the game was a slow one.

The Bonnies rarely pushed the ball in transition and appeared take their time and play in their half-court offense. This is not necessarily a negative thing because they did get good looks and open shots through their offense. 

They did not convert on many looks that were designed for shooters, shooting 4-14 from three, but when they did hit, every made three-pointer felt back breaking for the opposition, and it boosted the energy of the Bonnies significantly. 

When they did push the ball, the usually got an easy basket. The pace the team plays at is good, but going forward in the season, they should look to push more off defensive rebounds and turnovers.

Held Their Own Against Bigger School 

St. John’s is a much larger school than St. Bonaventure and is supposed to handle match ups like these.

St. John’s is a Big East school in New York City, which means that by default, have an edge in recruiting over a smaller school in a lower conference which the Bonnies play in.

Despite the differences, the Bonnies proved that they belonged to be on the court with the Red Storm. It was a game of runs, and the Bonnies stayed competitive the whole game with their largest lead (12 points) coming in the 3rd quarter. They adapted to the different defenses that were thrown their way that included man-to-man, zone and press, out rebounded St. John’s, and fought until the last second to try and win the game. 

The away game losing streak continues, but St. Bonaventure hopes to make that come to an end with Atlantic 10play upon them. Their next game is New Year’s Day, as they look to even their 0-1 A-10 record vs the Dayton Flyers. 

Harris shines, Bona women win in return to Reilly Center

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — It had been nearly nine months since head coach Jesse Fleming and the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team took the floor at the Reilly Center. 

The Bonnies took care of business on Tuesday night with a 67-57 victory over Binghamton, despite giving Bearcats senior forward Kaylee Wasco 14 points in the opening half. 

 “I feel really good about us going forward,” Fleming said after the win. “Once we knew we could do it, I thought we played really well for a lot of stretches. We (made mistakes); we still have to trust exactly what we are trying to do.” 

The Bonnies were able to come out of the gate strong and attacked the boards early in the first half, winning the rebounding battle 21-10 at halftime. By the final buzzer, SBU had 50 rebounds to Binghamton’s 33.  

However, to start the second half, Fleming watched his players give up a 10-0 run to the Bearcats.

“I want to grade every possession on, ‘Hey did we play the way we wanted to play that possession’,” Fleming said. “I never sit there and say ‘here we go again.’ It is just about how can we get back to being us.”

Fleming thought his team needed to be “cleaner” defensively and in the post, but he likes what he has seen thus far. 

Despite some struggles defensively and issues with the pace, the Bonnies impressed Fleming with 50 rebounds. Tori Harris, a redshirt junior guard who transferred to the program from James Madison, was instrumental in the win, racking up 10 boards to accompany 20 points. Junior guard Asianae Johnson followed right behind with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Deja Francis scored 13 points.

“Whenever I see a chance to go get a rebound I try to,” Harris said. “We always make it a big deal to rebound during practice. We talk about how last year, we didn’t focus on rebounding enough.”

Fleming stressed the importance of rebounding to his team’s success.

“We have no chance if we cannot rebound the ball,” Fleming said. “Today we went 4-for-15 from three and won the game because of the way we rebounded the basketball. I am thrilled about the rebounding.” 

Bona improved to 1-1 with the win, while BU fell to 0-2 with the loss. The Bonnies will travel to Buffalo on Saturday, where they will take on the Bulls at 2 p.m. 

What we learned from Bona women’s loss to Duquesne

photo: Dave DeNoma

By Dustyn Green

PITTSBURGH, PA — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team led much of its contest against Duquesne in on Friday before falling, 71-63, to the Dukes. Below are four takeaways from the contest.

Guard the paint

One of the areas the Dukes dominated without any issue was the paint, and the Bonnies did not come prepared to ace the paint test in Pittsburgh. SBU gave the Dukes 32 points in the paint, with 18 in the first half. The Bonnies protected the three-point line very well and limited other damage. If damage control was activated this already close game, may have been closer.

Glimmers of hope

Early on, Duquesne hung on to a lead, but St. Bonaventure took command of the game afterward and retained it through much of the contest. In the first half, rising sophomore Amanda Kalin was silent and could not get on the scoresheet. However, the second half was a much different story, and Kalin put seven consecutive points on the board. The Bonnies showed promise when responding to plays on either side of the ball before giving up a 15-0 run to the Dukes.

Cut down turnovers and capitalize

One of the leading contributions to losses in basketball is the presence of a large number of turnovers. In this game, the Bonnies committed 18 turnovers and gave up 32 points on those turnovers. The Dukes were responsible for 13 turnovers, however, the Bonnies only cashed in for 11 points off of them.

Dziezgowski makes good first impression

In college sports, first impressions are crucial. Dziezgowski had the opportunity to give her’s in the contest, and it was a solid one. In 19 minutes, the freshman put up eight points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals. For the last several seasons, Fleming has lacked someone who can fill the entire stat sheet. If she can continue to do that down the stretch and for the next four years, her presence may pose issues for opposing teams.

PREVIEW: Bona women open season with Friday slate at Duquesne

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

PITTSBURGH, PA — It has been over nine months since the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team and head coach Jesse Fleming have played an official game. However, that will change on Friday afternoon when the Duquesne Dukes and head coach Dan Burt play host to the Bonnies.

The Dukes have an immediate advantage, as they have played two games already this season, facing Ohio State and St. Francis (PA). The Dukes fell to the then-20th ranked Buckeyes, 82-47, before edging St. Francis, 69-67. This will be the team’s “home” opener, as the game will be played at La Roche University.

In each of the first two matchups, at least three players tallied 15 or more minutes off the bench for Duquesne. Tanaya Beacham had 23 minutes against the Buckeyes, and Jada Dupaa clocked in for 20 against St. Francis. Despite seeing a significant amount of action in those games, the bench only scored a total of 42 points.

Amanda Kailin has averaged 13.5 points per game to lead the team over its first two games, while Laia Sole has been a double-double threat, averaging 7.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

The Dukes have seen a total of 116 points on their side of the scoreboard. Of those 116 points, 96 of them have come from either in the paint or on the free-throw line. The Dukes have made 81.8% of their shots from the charity stripe.

If they’re going to find success, the Bonnies need to take the paint away from Duquesne and exhaust the Dukes on defense to force them into tough situations.

The game commences at 2 p.m. on Friday, and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Reilly Center to feature dozens of cardboard “fans” this season

photo: Seth Johnson/Twitter

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — While there will be no in-person attendance at St. Bonaventure men’s and women’s basketball games this season, nearly 200 Bonnies fans will be represented at the Reilly Center in the form of cardboard cutouts.

In November, the university announced that it would be offering cutouts for $100. Fans can select a custom image, of them or anyone else, to be printed and placed in the RC at every home basketball game throughout the 2020-21 season.

So far, 186 cutouts have been ordered, and Seth Johnson, SBU’s assistant athletic director for licensing and fan engagement, said that he anticipates that number to continue to climb.

“We knew that there would be interest,” Johnson said. “We have a passionate fan base. That’s what makes St. Bonaventure so special, is our alumni and fans that support us. Once we knew that we were not going to be able to have fans, it kind of picked up steam that we knew we would have placement for these.”

The cutouts will be placed in the “end zone” bleachers behind each basket. The school has already placed 120 cutouts, and a shipment of over 60 more is on its way.

“The end zone makes sense because it’s really one of the only areas that gets prominent television time, during free throws,” Johnson said.

If the end zones sell out, the university will look at other areas that could have prominent television time. However, Johnson said, there is still “plenty of space” left behind the baskets.

Fans can order cutouts throughout the year through printedfans.com, and can expect to see them up at the RC within 14 days after ordering.

“We had been looking into it with a couple different companies, it just took finding the right one,” Johnson said. “Everyone is a little bit different, and we just needed to find what worked best for us and the timeline that we needed.”

In addition to the dozens of Bonnies fans that have themselves depicted in the arena, some have gotten creative with their orders. Former Bonnies guard Marcus Posley is in the crowd, as is “Kramer” from the hit sitcom Seinfeld, “Gritty,” the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, as well as dogs, babies and a cat. SBU president Dr. Dennis DePerro recently ordered his cutout.

“It’s a way to be a part of the Reilly Center,” Johnson said. “I think that once we have our first game and people see them, there will be even more interest.”

Johnson said that next week, the athletic department would be releasing additional ways to get fans involved with the game-day experience at the RC.

“The fans, and especially our students, are what make it special,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be lacking that this year. We’re doing our best to keep people as involved as possible, and creat as many interactive things as possible.”

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. “

Previewing SBU’s women’s basketball roster

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is looking to bounce back from a down year.

Head coach Jesse Fleming enters his fifth season as head coach for the Bonnies, coming off of a 7-23 record (including 4-12 in the Atlantic 10) last year.

The Bonnies have four new players this year and eight returning players, including two seniors. They lost three seniors last year.

SBU added a graduate transfer, Star Fitzgerald-Greer, a 6-3 forward from Howard University.

The Bonnies, like every other NCAA program, were allowed to begin practicing on Wednesday, with the possibility of games beginning no earlier than Nov. 25. As the Bonnies take the court for the first time together this season, here’s a brief overview of what their roster will look like.

RETURNING PLAYERS

Asianae Johnson | G | Junior | Brooklyn, NY
Johnson emerged as the leading scorer for the Bonnies last year averaging 12.7 points per game. She was also second in rebounding at 5.5 per game showing she can do it all. She scored in double figures 21 times for the Bonnies last year. Look for her to continue to score at will and help on the glass again this season.

Deja Francis| G | Junior | Queens, NY
Francis led the team in assists with 74, and was second in scoring last year. She averaged 9.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Her freshman year, she totaled 104 assists, which is the most in 20 seasons for SBU and was fourth among A-10 players. Look for her to continue to get teammates involved this year and keep improving her game as a junior.

Tori Harris| F | R-Junior | Dix Hills, NY
Harris had to sit last year out after transferring from James Madison. During her first two collegiate seasons, Harris played in 47 games for the Dukes and had a career-high 15 points against Delaware State her sophomore season. In high school, she was named the 2017 Long Island Player of the Year. Her brother, Tobias, plays forward for the Philadelphia 76ers.

I’yanna Lops | F | Soph. | Stamford, CT
Olivia Brown| G | Soph. | East Grand Rapids, MI 
Carrie Jornlin| F | R-Sophomore | Hagerstown, MD 
Emily Calabrese| F/C | Senior | Wyckoff, NJ
Kaitlyn Parker| G | Sophomore | Suitland, MD
Jurnee President| G | Senior | Fort Worth, TX 
Claire Cody| F | R-Freshman | Carmel, NY

New Players

Star Fitzgerald-Greer| F | Senior | Bronk, NY
Fitzgerald- Greer, Goddaughter of Bonnies men’s basketball legend Fred Crawford, is looking to help the Bonnies this year. She is a 6-3 transfer from Howard, where she averaged 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a junior. She can stretch the floor with her shooting after sinking 21 threes her junior season.

Maddie Dziezgowski| G/F | Freshman | Bethel Park, PA
Dziezgowski averaged 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as a junior in high school. She was selected to the All-WPIAL First Team and lead her team to a 22-4 record in 2018-2019.

Morgan Gentile| G | Freshman | Elmira, NY
Gentile averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists per game at Elmira High School. 

Mia Kulenovic| F | Freshman | Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.