Notes: St. Bonaventure | La Salle | A-10
Both St. Bonaventure (10-6, 0-1 Atlantic 10) and La Salle (4-11, 0-1 A-10) meet Wednesday night at 7 at the Reilly Center in their second A-10 game of the year looking for their first league win. After opening up a 16-point early second-half lead to a Duquesne club receiving votes in the national polls, the Bonnies were unable to hang on for the win in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. La Salle comes in following a 69-54 loss at home to Fordham in its league opener last Saturday. This will be the 19th all-time meeting between the Explorers and Bonnies, with La Salle holding a slight 10-8 edge. However, St. Bonaventure has won each of the last three meetings, including last January's matchup when the Bonnies held La Salle to just 39 points – the fewest points by either team in the history of the series.
Last Time Out
After building a 16-point second-half lead in its Atlantic 10 Conference opener Saturday afternoon at Duquesne (14-2, 1-0 A-10), St. Bonaventure shot just 29.6 percent in the second frame and was unable to hold on for the win, falling at the A.J. Palumbo Center, 60-54.
La Salle has lost six straight games dating back to a 78-58 win over Rider on Dec. 19. In each of those games, the Explorers have allowed their opponents to score 65 or more points while they themselves have score just 65+ in one game. La Salle allows its opponents to score an average of 69.1 points per game, a total that St. Bonaventure has eclipsed just twice this year – in wins over Lafayette (72-63) and Canisius (74-41). The Bonnies average 58.2 points per game, but make up for that total by allowing its opponents to score an average of just 52.9 a game. That average represents not only the best defense in the A-10, but also the 13th-best in the entire nation. La Salle is ranked as the worst shooting team in the entire A-10, connecting at just a 29.8-percent clip from the floor, and also ranks as the worst field goal percentage defense in the A-10, allowing teams to shoot .416 from the floor.
Scouting La Salle
-- La Salle was tabbed to finish last in the 14-team A-10
-- The Explorers are 0-4 when scoring fewer than 50 points and 0-4 when they are out-rebounded
-- Redshirt sophomore Alexis Scott has missed the last 11 games with an injury after starting the first five games of the year
-- Senior Ashley Gale ranks in the top 10 in the Explorers' record book in three different statistical categories (3-pointers attempted: 6th; 3-pointers made: t-6th; blocks: 9th)
-- Gale is ranked 3rd nationally in 3-pointers per game with 3.3 and is 4th in the country in steals per game at 3.6
-- Head coach Jeff Williams is one of two new head coaches in the A-10 this year; Sharon Dawley of Massachusetts is the other
-- La Salle is the second-best free throw shooting team in the A-10, behind St. Bonaventure, as it currently connects at a 74.7-percent clip from the stripe
St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle
Series Quick Facts
Overall: La Salle Leads, 10-8
At St. Bonaventure: St. Bonaventure Leads, 5-3
At La Salle: La Salle Leads, 6-3
At Neutral Site: La Salle Leads, 1-0
Most St. Bonaventure Points: 86 (Jan. 21, 1999: 86-72)
Most La Salle Points: 86 (Jan. 13, 2006: 86-66)
Fewest St. Bonaventure Points: 42 (Jan. 30, 2000: 62-42)
Fewest La Salle Points: 39 (Jan. 20, 2010: 58-39)
Largest St. Bonaventure Margin: 19 (Jan. 20, 2010: 58-39)
Largest La Salle Margin: 22 (Jan. 12, 2001: 78-56)
Jeff Williams, who spent the past seven seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, including the last four as the Associate Head Coach, is in his first season as the head women's basketball coach at La Salle. Williams helped guide the Panthers to postseason appearances in the past five seasons, including three straight NCAA Tournament trips with Sweet Sixteen showings in 2008 and 2009. He was formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2010 and became the program's eighth head coach.
"I am very excited to begin my head coaching career at La Salle University," Williams said. "I hope to create an exciting environment for our student-athletes. I know it will be a challenge to compete in the Atlantic 10, which boast some of the top coaches and programs in the country. But my vision is to bring La Salle to national prominence. I feel that I have the unwavering support of La Salle President Brother Michael McGinniss, and Director of Athletics, Dr. Tom Brennan. This is the beginning of a new era for La Salle women's basketball and I'm up to the challenge."
Williams has over 20 years of college coaching experience, including the last 16 as a women's basketball coach at Howard (1995-2000), Georgia Tech (2001-03) and Pittsburgh (2003-10). He recruited or coached six players who reached the WNBA, including Pitt All-American Shavonte Zellous, who was named to the WNBA all-rookie team in 2009. Three of his recruiting classes have been ranked in the top 15 nationally and his teams have reached seven NCAA and three WNIT Tournaments.
We're Number One
St. Bonaventure is the only school in the nation that has decreased its loss total every single year since the 2004-05 season: 2004-05: 19; 2005-06: 18; 2006-07: 15; 2007-08: 12; 2008-09: 11; 2009-10: 10. Going back even further, the Bonnies have not increased their loss total since the 2002-03 campaign. In that year they lost 22 games, and the following year in 2003-04 finished with 19 losses, a total they tied the next season to start the streak.
Nothing Mid-Major About This
In the latest RPI rankings released on Monday, eight teams in the A-10 were ranked in the top 75 in the nation. Only one conference in the country has more teams ranked in the top 75, and that's the BIG EAST with 10. The ACC, Big 12, SEC and Big Ten all also have eight teams in the top 75. St. Bonaventure is ranked 63rd (out of 343 schools), Xavier 7th, Duquesne 20th, Saint Joseph's 31st, Dayton 46th, Charlotte 53rd, Temple 56th and Richmond 74th.
A 'Bona' Fide Schedule
St. Bonaventure's strength of schedule is 43rd in the country, and one of five A-10 schools in the top 45 in terms of schedule strength (Dayton, 12th; Temple, 40th; Xavier, 41st; Saint Joseph's, 42nd). The Big Ten is the only conference in the country with more teams in the top 45 than the A-10 as it has seven. The BIG EAST and ACC also have five, but the Pac 10 and SEC both have just four and the Big 12 has only three. Additionally, there are nine teams ranked in the top 60 of the RPI that St. Bonaventure has already played, or will play, this year.
Unfortunately, It Ain't Horseshoes
Close has been the story of the Bonaventure season to this point. Currently at 10-6, five of the six losses have come by fewer than 10 points, with the lone double-digit loss being by 11 points to nationally ranked St. John's.
Junior Megan Van Tatenhove, coming off scoring season lows in each of her previous two games before Saturday, bounced back with a team-high 19 points against Duquesne. She also led the team in rebounds with six and steals with four in a career-high 37 minutes.
That's Not Supposed To Happen
In their loss to Duquesne on Saturday, the Bonnies turned the ball over just 14 times compared with the Dukes' 22. That differential marked the first time all year that St. Bonaventure had fewer turnovers than its opponent and lost the game (6-1).
After finishing in the top-10 in the nation in four different statistical categories last year, the Bonnies are looking at repeating those finishes in exactly the same categories again this year. St. Bonaventure is 7th in the nation in free throw shooting (78.6 percent), 25th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (36.6), 13th in the nation in scoring defense (52.9 points per game) and 22nd in the nation in turnovers per game (14.7).
Oh, Snap … Again
With her 11-point performance against Kent State, Chelsea Bowker snapped a streak of double-digit career highs. Four times this year she has reached double figures in scoring, and each time it represented a career high for her. She established career highs in scoring against Quinnipiac (16), Lafayette (16), Marist (17) and Buffalo (21). However, in all 11 other games, she has been held to single figures or zero points. The 11 points symbolizes the first time this year she has reached double figures in points and not broken a career high. The sophomore then repeated that feat with a 12-point effort against Duquesne in the Bonnies' conference opener last Saturday.
For more game notes, click here.