BY ANDREW HALE, BEAT WRITER
The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team returned to the floor Monday night, losing to Bowling Green University 77-61 in its season opener.
The Bonnies opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from junior Tianna Johnson. The Falcons responded with a 9-0 run. Quick ball movement and fast break opportunities proved to be key early for Bowling Green.
Bonaventure’s man-to-man defense and good ball movement on behalf of Bowling Green was allowing the Falcons to find open shooters throughout the floor.
After trading buckets, the Bonnies cut the Falcons’ lead to two at 12-10 until a 3-pointer from Bonaventure grad senior Nikki Oppenheimer, which momentarily took the lead. Oppenheimer scored five of her team-leading 14 points in the first quarter.
The two teams continued to go back and forth for the remainder of the quarter which led to the teams being knotted up, 17-17, at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, the Falcons stepped up defensively, forcing three Bonnies turnovers in less than two minutes. Bonaventure turnovers led to fast break opportunities for the Falcons, who quickly went up by four.
While Bowling Green’s full-court press led to a majority of the Bonnies’ 29 total turnovers, it wasn’t something that caught Bonaventure by surprise.
“We anticipated the full-court press,” Bonnies head coach Jesse Fleming said. “You practice it and practice it and then all of a sudden, a team does it and baits our guards up the sideline. Just a lot to learn from in game one.”
The Bonnies were able to cut into Bowling Green’s lead with a 5-0 run from senior forward I’yanna Lops. Throughout the game, Lops made her presence felt on the glass securing 10 rebounds in total, nine of which came on the defensive side of the ball.
Bonaventure, which trailed 30-22 midway through the second quarter, cut the Falcons lead in half curtsey of back-to-back 3-pointers from Oppenheimer. This momentum didn’t last long, however, as Bowling Green went on a 7-3 run to end the half.
The Falcons, who were up 37-31 at halftime, were led by senior guard Elissa Brett who finished the first half with a game-leading 15 points.
Bowling Green’s aggressive game plan led to early foul trouble for the Bonnies in the third quarter. The combination of fouls and turnovers didn’t serve well for the Bonnies as the Falcons went up quickly, 42-33.
Bonaventure continued to try and push past the stern Falcons offense ultimately getting the game to within five points with 5:31 left in the third quarter. This would be the closest the Bonnies would get for the remainder of the game.
Senior forward Allison Day was able to get by the Bonnies’ defense and rack up 12 fourth quarter points, all in the paint. The Falcons controlled the interior scoring 44 of their 77 points in the paint.
“I thought our backside help wasn’t where it needed to be,” Fleming said. “We just have to keep working and do a better job of owning the paint a little bit more.”
With the help of Day and Brett the Falcons of Bowling Green were able to surge past the Bonnies by a final score of 77-61. Brett finished with a game-leading 26 points on 9-17 shooting and Day finished with 19 points on 9-16 from the field.
The Bonnies seniors, Oppenheimer and Lops, both finished with a team-high 14 points. Lops finished with a double-double securing 10 blocks and also blocking three shots. Johnson also tallied double-digit points as she finished with 12 points on 4-11 shooting.
“We didn’t play to the level that we needed to, but our north star is to just keep getting better,” Fleming said. “That team [Bowling Green] makes you get better. Bowling Green allowed for our team to play in stressful situations and a team like that only helps you to get better.”
Bonaventure continues its season at home, Friday, against East Tennessee State. The game can be heard on WSBU 88.3 FM with the pre-game show starting at 6:45 p.m. for a 7 p.m. tip.