The St. Bonaventure University women's basketball team debuts at the Reilly Center this Saturday afternoon, hosting Edinboro with tipoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in the first and only exhibition game of the 2016-17 preseason. Saturday's game will serve as a tune-up for the regular season opener Friday, Nov. 11 at Niagara.
All tickets for Saturday's exhibition will be $7 and include admission to the men's game vs. Alfred which will follow at 4:00 p.m. For more details, call the SBU Ticket Office at 716-375-2500 or CLICK HERE.
NEW SEASON, NEW FACES
There will be many new things on hand for fans at Saturday's game – a newly resurfaced Reilly Center floor, the University's brand new state-of-the-art video board, and many changes on the court as well.
Perhaps the most notable change comes on the sidelines as for the first time in 16 years the Bonnies will have a new head man on the bench. Jesse Fleming returns to his alma mater to take the reins of the program following the departure of longtime head coach Jim Crowley for Providence last May. Fleming, a 2005 St. Bonaventure graduate, an assistant and later Associate Head Coach on Crowley's staff, takes a head coaching position for the first time after stints on the staffs of St. Bonaventure, Stony Brook and Bowling Green. Regarded as one of the nation's top assistant coaches in recent years, Fleming had been on staff at Bowling Green since 2012, most recently as the program's Associate Head Coach. No stranger to success, Fleming was key to the development of the Bonnies as an Atlantic 10 power under Crowley, recruiting and developing some of the program's central players including No. 2 all-time leading scorer Dana Mitchell. Two new assistant coaches – Jeff Clapacs and Jennifer Pruett also join returning assistant coach Andrea Mulcahy on the bench while Alysha Giarra is the program's new director of operations.
The player personnel will be much different this year as well – six newcomers join the program including five freshmen. The lone returning starter from last year's team is junior guard Mariah Ruff, a third team preseason All-Atlantic 10 pick who averaged 10.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists a season ago. Also returning are graduate student Gabby Richmond, who is expected to be a strong post presence after appearing in all 32 games last year, along with senior point guard Imani Outlaw, junior forward Matea Britvar and sophomore guard Mckenna Maycock. Another returner, sophomore guard Keely Fresh will miss the season due to injury.
Last season was one for the record books as the Bonnies enjoyed one of the best years in program history. Bona finished 24-8 overall including a 12-4 mark in the Atlantic 10, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time. The Bonnies reached the Round of 32 following a victory in the first round over Oklahoma State before dropping a second round bout on the home floor of eventual Final Four entrant Oregon State last March. Included in last season's memorable run was a 16-0 record at the Reilly Center, the program's first perfect year on home court.
The Fighting Scots have long been one of Division II's best programs under head coach Stan Swank who has built his team into a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) powerhouse.
Swank, who is in his 29th season at the helm with a 533-292 career record, has guided his team to four PSAC titles and 10 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. Edinboro is coming off a 20-10 season last year, returning three starters including dynamic senior guard Katie Fischer who posted 16.0 points per game last year and ranked seventh in the nation with 188 assists. Also back are sophomore guard Michelle Jahn (12.6 ppg) and senior guard Whitney Allen (3.5 ppg). Edinboro is 145-37 during the last six seasons with 23 winning campaigns during Swank's tenure.
Also of note, freshman Jade Farve is the niece of famed NFL quarterback Brett Favre. The roster also boasts two Division I transfers – redshirt sophomore guard Jontay Walton (UMass-Lowell) and junior center Ciara Rosten (UMass) as well as Olean native senior forward Maggie Moore.
The Bonnies and Fighting Scots will kick off the season in The RC for the seventh straight year in what has often been an entertaining series. Bona is undefeated vs. Edinboro, but has been tested in previous seasons. In 2014, the Bonnies registered a 61-51 victory while in 2012, Bona scored in the waning seconds for a 63-62 win to begin a season in which both programs reached the Sweet Sixteen of their respective divisions. Last year, the Bonnies recorded a convincing 79-37 win as Mckenna Maycock netted 13 points to lead the returners.
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