Women’s basketball: Offense searching for pace

St. Bonaventure needs to find an offensive rhythm after dropping their sixth-straight game last Saturday against Saint Joseph’s.

The Bonnies shot 31 percent on a defense that has the second worst field goal percentage defense in the conference. Lucky for St. Bonaventure, their opponent tonight, Duquesne, has the worst field goal percentage defense in the conference, given the Bonnies an opportunity to gain back their offensive touch.

Nyla Rueter didn’t score on Saturday. She missed all seven of her attempts.

After scoring in double figures in 50 percent of her non-conference games, Rueter has only scored more than 10 points twice in Bonaventure’s seven conference games.

“I know Saturday wasn’t good, but Saturday’s over,” said head coach Jim Crowley. “I think she has a chance to be a really high level shooter, but high level shooters can’t have memories.”

St. Bonaventure’s top two scorers, Rueter and Katie Healy, have struggled this conference season. It’s one of the reasons why the Bonnies have a 1-6 record.

“Right now that’s a big problem our two best scorers, Katie and Nyla, have memories,” said Crowley. “And they let missed shots affect them way too much.”

Eventually Healy and Rueter will make shots. There’s no reason why they won’t. Healy’s a returning all-conference player; Rueter’s the best free throw shooter in the conference with deep 3-point range.

“At some point (the missed shots are) going to stop, when that’s going to stop they will be able to play with the fluidity, the pace and the freedom that we want them to and we know the have, but it’s just right now they’re really struggling with dealing with missed shots,” said Crowley.

St. Bonaventure has to first put themselves in the best position offensively to win games.

“We got to pass the ball better,” said Crowley. “The ball is dying. We got to move. We got to be ready.”

When your offense is stationary, the defense doesn’t need to react.

“We’re just really, really easy to guard right now,” said Crowley. “We just got to make it more difficult.”

Crowley has tampered with the line-up throughout this season. The Bonnies started the season with three taller forwards (Healy, Hannah Little and Gabby Richmond) and a backcourt of Rueter and Emily Michael. Crowley has started freshman guard Mariah Ruff since mid-December in place of Michael. Michael then started over Richmond the last several games. Ashley Zahn has started once, too.

Crowley has had games where Miranda Drummond gave big minutes off the bench. Imani Outlaw has been real steady. She had 10 points against Saint Joseph’s. Crowley has good players. He’s done different things with the rotation to help with spacing and pace, but the results have not been what he wants.

“I think some kids have got to find a little more confidence,” said Crowley. “Our pace offensively is really bad from our pace within our offense to our cuts to our moves, so we’re really easy to guard. We’re just not going at a speed that makes us difficult to guard.”

It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re struggling. This Bonaventure team finished second in the conference last year. The group of Little, Healy, Michael and Rueter experienced the lowest of lows during their freshman year to winning a WNIT game during their sophomore year. Now they’re on the verge of a seven-game conference-losing streak.

“I think we got, right now as we’ve lost more; more people are just, you know, they don’t want to be the ones that screw it up,” said Crowley. “Sometimes instead of just going, we’re thinking too much about the scoreboard or being too worried about a miss or something like that rather than just worrying about going hard, and going with pace.”

Tonight presents a great opportunity for St. Bonaventure to bounce back on the offensive end, and it all begins with their pace.

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