December 28, 2011

Bonnies Head To Jersey For Tourney; Open With Villanova Thursday

Monmouth University Hawks Holiday Classic
St. Bonaventure (11-1) vs. Villanova (9-2)
Thursday, Dec. 29 | 4 PM | MAC Center (4,100)

St. Bonaventure vs. Norfolk State/Monmouth
Friday, Dec. 30 | 2/4 PM | MAC Center (4,100)

Game Notes:
St. Bonaventure | Villanova | Atlantic 10
                     Nofolk State | Monmouth

Follow & Interact:
@Go_Bonnies | #Bonnies

Alumni Post-Game Reception Information

St. Bonaventure – Receiving Votes in the national polls for the second straight week – will look to continue its best-ever start to a season against Villanova in the opening day of the Monmouth University Hawks Holiday Classic. Following the contest with the 9-2 Wildcats – who are also Receiving Votes in the polls – the Bonnies will face either Norfolk State or host Monmouth on Friday's final day.

The outing against Villanova will be the first neutral-site game of the year for SBU. Villanova leads the all-time series, 1-0, by virtue of a 66-61 overtime decision in 1995. The Bonnies have never played Norfolk State or Monmouth.

Bonaventure has won seven straight games, and with a victory against 'Nova will be winners of eight consecutive contests for just the second time in program history. Only the 2009-10 team, which started 11-0, has a longer winning streak than this year's club.

Junior Chelsea Bowker has been instrumental in the last few wins during the streak, finishing with game-high point totals each of the last two times out – 19 vs. Marist and 15 at Colgate. In the last two games, the Ohio native is 9-for-12 (75 percent) from 3-point range, and her 34 total points account for 33 percent of her entire year's scoring (103). Over the last four games – in which she has started three in place of senior Megan Van Tatenhove (concussion-like symptoms) – Bowker has raised her points per game average from 6.3 to 8.6 – now third-best on the Bona roster.

With at least one win this week, the Brown and White will own a program-best seven victories in the month of December. Currently five teams – including last year's – have won six games in December, but none has ever reached the seven-win plateau.

St. Bona and Villanova are two of the best ball-protecting teams in the nation. In the most recent NCAA rankings, the Wildcats ranked first in the nation at 11.3 turnovers per game, while the Bonnies were third at 12 per game. However, since that Dec. 19 ranking, 'Nova and SBU have each decreased their turnovers per game to 11.2 and 11.6 per outing, respectively.

In the most recent ESPN.com Mid-Major Rankings, Graham Hays ranks the Bonnies 4th among the non-BCS conference teams. Here's what Hays had to say: "The only loss came in November at the hands of Delle Donne and Delaware (and she was at least forced to take 26 shots to get her 26 points in that game), and a win against Marist adds another prize to a list that includes victories at St. John's and West Virginia. It's time to take the Bonnies seriously in the crowded Atlantic 10 race. This week's game against Villanova will likely have a lower score than most bowl games – and potentially some hockey games – but like some of Harry Perretta's best teams, Jim Crowley's Bonnies are masters of their own style."

In its most recent win against Colgate on Dec. 22, Bonaventure had five double-figure scorers for the first time since Jan. 2, 2009 at Bryant. The Bonnies did that without second-leading scorer and Atlantic 10 Preseason First Team pick Van Tatenhove playing. The balanced scoring attack has become a theme for this team, as already this year seven different players have reached double-digit scoring in a game. However, just once all season has an SBU player scored 20+ points in a game as Jessica Jenkins tallied 23 in a win at West Virginia Nov. 18.

Van Tatenhove – who is questionable as she recovers from a head injury suffered Dec. 10 against Buffalo – is just six rebounds shy of 500 for her career. With those six caroms, Van Tatenhove will become just the ninth member of the 1,000 Point & 500 Rebound Club.

St. Bonaventure, since joining the Division I ranks prior to the 1986-87 season, owns a .500 record, 33-33, in regular-season tournaments. The Bonnies have played in an in-season tourney every year since joining DI, with the exception of the 2003-04 season. Bonaventure has swept (2-0) nine tournaments, been swept (0-2) nine times and split (1-1) 15 occasions.

Scouting Villanova
~ Junior Laura Sweeney leads the Wildcats in both scoring and rebounding at 16.5 and 9.2 per game, respectively
~ Both 'Nova and Bonaventure have played Marist and Delware, and each school defeated Marist ('Nova by 7; SBU by 11) and lost to Delaware ('Nova by 8; SBU by 12)
~ The Wildcats went just 12-19 last year, but they return eight letterwinners and nearly all of their offense from last season
~ Head coach Harry Perretta won his 600th career game earlier this year, and currently boasts a 607-380 mark in his 34th year
~ In both of their losses this year, Villanova has trailed at the half

Scouting Norfolk State
~ Sophomore Rachel Gordon averages a double-double with 10.4 points and 10 rebounds per game
~ After using 13 different starting lineup combinations in the 2010-11 season, NSU has used the same starting five every game this year
~ The Spartans were picked to finish 13th out of 13 teams in the MEAC in preseason voting
~ Rae Corbo was named to the MEAC All-Rookie Team last season
~ Norfolk State has lost three straight games entering action at the Monmouth Classic

Scouting Monmouth
~ Head coach Jenny Palmateer is in her first season at the helm of the Hawks
~ MU has not played since a 71-59 loss at Manhattan on Dec. 17
~ The Hawks average 21.2 turnovers per game, and in all of their eight losses have committed more turnovers than their opponent
~ Abby Martin leads Monmouth in scoring at 12 per game, while Carly Thibault adds 11.1 per outing
~ Junior Alysha Womack, MU's leading returning scorer and a Preseason All-NEC selection, has not played this year after having her knee scoped in October, but hoped to return for this tournament

Next Up
St. Bonaventure concludes the non-conference docket with a home matchup against Sacred Heart on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Tipoff from the RC is set for 2 p.m.