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Bona women improve ranking

The world of women's college basketball went topsy-turvy this week. Seventh-ranked Maryland defeated No. 5 Duke, handing the Blue Devils their first Atlantic Coast Conference loss. Then unranked St. John's not only beat No. 2 Connecticut, but did so in Storrs, breaking the Huskies' 99-game home winning streak.

And with everyone beating up on everyone else in the Top 25, it's no surprise that the St. Bonaventure women climbed three spots to No. 19 in the Associated Press poll this week.

Exciting times continue in Olean as the most successful women's season in Bona's Division I history and one of the best seasons of any Big 4 team in recent times keeps building.

The Bonnies are now 25-2 overall and 12-0 in the Atlantic 10. They can clinch the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament with a win against Fordham on Wednesday. The 7 p.m. game will be the season finale in the Reilly Center for the Bonnies, who at this point have the resume to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Bracketology aside, Bona has control of its own destiny when it comes to conference tourney time, the place every coach hopes to be come March.

"You start a season and all you hope for is that you do enough to control your own fate," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "Thankfully, we've done that. And this group might know [that they can clinch the No. 1 spot on Wednesday] but all their focus is on Fordham."

The Rams enter the game at just 2-10 in the conference, 11-16 overall, and on a five-game losing streak. They rank 13th in the 14-team league in scoring offense (51.8 ppg) but their defense ranks a tad better than St. Bonaventure's. Fordham is giving up 54.0 points a game, the Bonnies 54.1.

More importantly, the Rams are fighting to make sure they don't fall into the A-10 basement as Nos. 13 and 14 in the regular season standings do not advance to the tournament. The Rams are tied with Massachusetts for 12th and the final playoff spot.

"They play really hard," Crowley said of Fordham. "They're shooting well from the perimeter and work hard at winning longer rebounds. You can't take anything for granted. We know how dangerous they are, and if we're not where we need to be, it's going to be a tough one.

"One thing I feel really good about is that our kids respect everyone they play. They don't think if they just show up, they'll have success. They know how well coached everyone in this league and how good the players are. Each time out, the way they prepare, they have the right mindset."

The right mindset for Megan Van Tatenhove is coming at just the right time. The senior forward had a season-best 24 points in the Bonnies' win over Xavier on Saturday, including her team's first 15 points. Van Tatenhove is hitting her stride after a tough first semester academically and with suffering concussion-like symptoms after hitting her head on the floor in a game against Buffalo.

"In some ways, it's kept her fresh. She feels like it's January instead of February and she has lots of energy," Crowley said. "She student-taught in the first semester so combine that with the injury and she was exhausted. I think she's getting her legs back under her. She's starting to make more shots and more aggressive plays."

Bona will conclude the regular season at Rhode Island on Saturday. Should Bona earn the No. 1 seed, it will get a bye into the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, playing the winner of the 8-9 game at noon on March 3 at host Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia.