The numbers said this shouldn’t have happened. As much as we trust the numbers there are times the eye test just steps to the front. On this night the latter situation prevailed as the St. Bonaventure women defeated Dayton 54-53 at the Reilly Center.
In a 69 possession game, Dayton had an offensive efficiency of 79, Bona 77. Tempo free metrics tells us the team with a better offensive efficiency wins the game about 97% of the time. Not on this night. The Bonnies were beaten on the boards by a 51-26 count, 45-11% in offensive rebounding percentage. They lost the points in the paint battle 34-14. In the end, they won where it mattered most, the final score.
The Bonnies earned their first victory since defeating Binghamton on December 9th. They stand at 4-17 (1-5 in A10). Dayton is a different team from what they were in recent seasons. The Flyers are now 3-14 (2-4) but did come to Reilly Center with a couple A10 wins to their credit and would not go away easy. On this night the host team battled and fought their way to victory. A nine game losing streak ? Not an issue for the Bonnies.
In the press conference a few days following the parting of ways with Jesse Fleming, Bona AD Joe Manhertz outlined three things he hopes the Bona women can accomplish through the remainder of the season. “Take care of academics,” Manhertz said. “Number two bring energy and number three have fun. Basketball should be fun.”
Erica Morrow, promoted from assistant to interim head coach embraced her new role. “The one goal here, which when I was a player was the same goal, is you’ve got to have fun with the game,” Morrow remarked at that same press conference. “I played and have been in their shoes, it’s really like having a conversation 15 years ago when I played. The biggest thing is just keeping them together and not making any major changes. We’re just trying to bring a different energy.”
The energy was evident on Thursday night. Dayton led by seven entering the final period. In past weeks that might have been a decisive lead for the visitors. The Bonnies dug in those last ten minutes contesting possession by possession. Finally, down one with 5 seconds left, Maddie Dziezgowski drained an off balance shot just inside the arc to give Bona the lead. Dayton called time out. The ensuing possession saw the Flyers turn the ball over and the celebration joined by members of men’s basketball and several other teams, was on.
Post game Morrow credited the team. In a whirlwind of events the Bonnies responded, giving an effort, showing renewed energy and having fun. “We had good practices,” Morrow said post game. “The girls showed the energy and were receptive in scout (practice). They deserve all the credit.”
Morrow deserves a lion’s share of that credit as well. From navigating a potentially difficult week with composure and sense of purpose. Keeping the team and staff on the same page. When her assistant coaches suggested utilizing two point guards on the floor against the Flyers she listened. With favorable results. One of the tweaks into the system was more movement on offense and trying to get into the lane with more frequency. It worked.
The final box score tells us Sydney Freeman, the Dayton sharpshooter, who canned four three pointers, led all scorers with 15 points. Maraiah Perez added nine and was problematic for Bona all night as she pulled down 13 boards. Bona was paced by Nadechka Laccen with 14. While it was a team effort, please excuse us if the play etched in our memory bank was Dziezgowski breaking into double figures, she scored 11, with her game winning dagger from the right angle with seconds remaining.
On this night the numbers couldn’t add up. The analytics, metrics et. al. didn’t have the answer. On this night the Bonnies showed heart. The analytic formulas and numbers cannot measure heart. On this night the Bonnies heart was immeasurable.