By Pat Tintle
Assistant Sports Editor
After a win in front of their home crowd against Canisius College, the women’s basketball team dropped their first road game of the season to James Madison, 76-43, on Sunday, Nov. 16.
The Bonnies struck first against the Dukes with a jump shot by junior forward Katie Healy, but James Madison quickly answered the Bonnies’ attack with an 8-2 run. Being down 24-14 at halftime, Coach Jim Crowley tried to prepare his squad for an even more competitive second half.
“At halftime, we spoke about being ready for JMU to really come at us, as they are very good in second halves,” Crowley said. “Obviously, we didn’t heed that warning very well.”
The Dukes would continue to add to their lead with a 52-29 second half, ultimately sending the Bonnies home with a 1-1 record.
Despite the strong performance in the Canisius game, the Bonnies offense was defective in Virginia. The team had only a 23.6 field goal percentage (13-55), while the Dukes shot for 41.9% (26-62). Crowley credited the Dukes’ tight defensive game as the reason for the Bonnies shooting struggles.
“JMU was a major problem with our offense on Sunday,” Crowley said. “They were long, physical and defended very hard and smart. That being said, we still had a number of good looks both inside and out that we didn’t put in the basket. Our pace of execution was not at the level of JMU’s defensive play.”
The Dukes were able to recover 23 second chance points, while the Bonnies were limited to four.
Dukes junior guard Precious Hall led her team with 19 points. She also recorded five rebounds and four assists.
Bonnies junior forward Katie Healy, who scored 20 points in the season opener, was limited to 10 points against the Dukes. Junior guard Nyla Rueter was 0-5 in three point attempts but led the Bonnies with 11 points. Her jump shot may be in the works, but Crowley recognized Rueter’s ability to put points on the board, even if from behind the foul line.
“Ny(la)’s jumper is not falling right now,” Crowley said. “But she is doing a very good job of getting to the foul line and scoring from there.”
Rueter was 7-7 in free-throw attempts.
Dating back to last season, playing on the road has plagued the Bonnies record. The team was 13-1 when playing at the Reilly Center but was 8-7 when away from the passionate cheering of the Wolf Pack (the Bonnies were 3-3 when playing at a neutral location). Crowley kept this in mind entering the 2014-2015 season, organizing four straight road games early in the season.
“We are working to get better on the road by playing on the road more,” Crowley said. “It’s my thinking that if something is difficult, you have to go right at it and figure it out, and we will.”
The Bonnies will continue their self-inflicted road trip this Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. as the team will face Toledo. Despite the sizable loss to James Madison, Crowley is sure that his team will get back to playing competitive basketball in Ohio.
“We are confident going into every game,” Crowley said.