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Making Their Mark

BRISTOL, R.I. -- Being able to score 1,000 points is a great accomplishment for any basketball player, but being able to share it with one of your teammates in the same year is something special.

Senior Alexandria Lanieri and junior Kaitlyn Bovee are lucky enough to have scored their 1,000th point each this year for the Roger Williams University Women's Basketball team, becoming the first RWU teammates to share this accomplishment in the same year, as well as putting their names in the history books with five other RWU basketball members in the 1,000 point club.

When Coach Thompson came to RWU three years ago she didn't know too much about her star players. She had seen some film and knew a little bit from previous conversations with RWU coaches, but within a week of practice, Thompson knew immediately that these two players were special.

“It was evident right away that they were going to lead this team,” said Thompson. “They were both prolific scorers and leaders and they were doing what I was asking them to do on the court and it helped us gain a sense of pride in what we do every day.”

Lanieri grew up playing soccer at a young age and actually envisioned herself playing college soccer. She didn't pick up a basketball until seventh grade; by ninth grade she had improved her game drastically and from that point on she fell in love with the sport.

“I played outdoors at the court in downtown Port Jefferson with guys every day from spring until the fall and I got more physical, strong and fast paced.”

Lanieri was a star at Port Jefferson High School in New York and was named team captain her junior and senior years, as well as being All-League her sophomore and junior years and earning All-League, All-County, and All-State her senior year.

Even though Lanieri had a very successful basketball career in high school, she still saw herself playing soccer in college, until she visited RWU and fell in love with the campus – and saw an opportunity to play basketball there.                                                                                     

Lanieri made an impact as soon as she stepped foot on the court. As a freshman she started in every game and ended her first season with a career high 342 points, a .488 field goal percentage, and a 9.8 rebound average.

“After a successful freshman year, my role changed a bit,” Lanieri said about heading into her sophomore year. “Girls started improving and giving me a run for my money and we had some great recruits and I knew that the team would improve overall and we would all work very well together.

Lanieri also started off her sophomore season with a new coach and strategy for turning the program around.

“I didn't know what to expect from Coach Thompson, but I could tell she lived for the game,” said Lanieri.  “Her passion for the game has transpired throughout our team which has led us to success.”

“I tried to change the culture and mind-set and get them to look into the future of the program and get to the tournament and be a power in the northeast,” said Coach Thompson about her arrival to RWU. “They all bought in,” she added.

With a new coach and new vision, Lanieri started off her sophomore season right where she left off from her freshman year, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots.

Lanieri really put herself in the spotlight when the team traveled to New London, N.H., as the sixth seed to play the number three seed, Colby-Sawyer, in the Commonwealth Coast Conference quarterfinals. Lanieri had a career high 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks as she led the Hawks to their first playoff win since 2001.

She scored 17 of her 29 points in the second half, putting in seven of the Hawks last nine points, pulling away from a tied score, and eventually winning 73-68 in an upset.

Lanieri continued leading the Hawks her junior and senior year, finishing second on the team with 12.2 points per game and leading in rebounds with 8.7 her junior year and started off her senior year very strong. Even though she was unaware of how many points she needed to reach 1,000, Lanieri made it a goal of hers to reach 1,000 before her career at RWU even started. 

“When I first walked into the gym at RWU I looked to the left and saw the 1,000 point plaques and made it a goal for myself to reach that milestone,” said Lanieri. “But I never kept track of my points and had no clue as to when it was going to come.”

Lanieri went into the game against Eastern Nazarene on November 28, 2012, with only nine points to go. She started the game off scoring the first seven points of the contest for the Hawks, but got in foul trouble early and had to spend some time on the bench.

Lanieri was put back into the game in the second half but didn't do much offensively until the 14:12 mark where she put up a signature layup inside for her historic 1,000th point. Unfortunately, the Hawks fell to Eastern Nazarene 57-68.

“She really didn't get to enjoy it that much because we lost and she's a competitor,” said Coach Thompson.

But after that loss the Hawks went on a nine-game winning streak and Lanieri found happiness in her team's achievements rather than hers.

“I finally realized and got to enjoy my milestone after we went on a nine-game winning streak because I knew then I had accomplished something greater than 1,000 points,” she said. “We had accomplished a team confidence.”

Lanieri had put herself in the record books at RWU, and Bovee wasn't far behind, needing 335 points in her junior season to join Lanieri in the 1,000 point club. 

Bovee came to RWU from Berlin High School in Connecticut where she was named to the All-Conference team her junior and senior years, as well as MVP in the Northwest Conference Tournament.

Bovee made her high school team as a freshman and continued to help her program grow.

“My freshman year was a big building year and we continued to improve and we finally made it to states when I was a junior,” Bovee said.

Bovee was pushed by her team, which was composed of a couple future Division 1 prospects, and her high school team really helped her become a versatile player, hitting outside shots and getting into the post. She also played AAU basketball, trying to get her name out there to college coaches and just to play some more basketball.

She knew she wanted to play college basketball and was getting looked at by schools such as Hartwick College, Saint John Fisher, Mount Saint Mary, and RWU. She travelled to RWU to look around the campus and check out the basketball program and instantly fell in love with what she saw.

“It sounds cheesy but I just got a gut feeling when I stepped onto campus and knew this is where I wanted to be,” Bovee said.

Coming into RWU as a freshman, Bovee didn't expect much to come from her basketball career right away.

“I was never the star in high school,” she said. “I came here and I was a typical freshman and really thought I was going to be on the bench right away.”

Bovee's expectations changed dramatically as tryouts ended and the first week of practice was over.

“It became quite clear in practice, probably within a week that she was going to have an impact,” said Thompson about Bovee. “What you see in the game is exactly how she is every single day in practice, even as a freshman she didn't hold back and in every drill you noticed her and every drill you heard her and as a freshman that doesn't happen a lot. She just stood out as a leader.”

Bovee had her best game this year against Eastern Nazarene, putting in a career-high 27 points, in an 82-59 win for the Hawks. Bovee started the Hawks' 20-0 run that helped boost the team past Eastern Nazarene, setting a season-high in team points.

“We got in a rhythm early and so did I and it's easy to get going when you make early shots,” said Bovee of her effort against Eastern Nazarene. “Our defensive pressure and quick transition from D to O really helped out too.”

After the game, Bovee was only 74 points shy of reaching 1,000 points in her young career.

Going into the game against Nichols, Bovee knew there was a huge possibility that she was going to get her 1,000th point, needing only 11 points and everyone on campus making sure she knew about it.

“My friends kept asking me about it and when it was going to happen,” said Bovee. “I just wanted it to be done and stay focused on the game but it felt nice to have my family there and to share it with them.”

Bovee hit her 1,000th point at the 11:57 mark of the first half, when she hit her fourth three-pointer of the game and finishing with a game 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Bovee credits her accomplishment to her teammates and the hard work they put into practice every day, pushing her on defense and making her shy away from her tendencies.

“The team had a huge role in this, 100 percent,” Bovee said.

Since joining the team as freshmen, both Lanieri and Bovee have helped turn the program around. Lanieri and Bovee have pushed each other since becoming teammates, not only to reach 1,000 points, but also to become great leaders and push the team on the court.

Lanieri is en route to ending her basketball career at RWU on a high note. She was selected to the All-CCC Second Team and has led her team to their first-ever bid in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Tournament as the four seed.

Bovee was placed on the All-CCC First Team and is having her best year yet at RWU with a career-best 16.5 points per game, leading the team and conference. She's also leading the conference in three-point percentage at .422.

The two players will be separated at the end of the season, but will leave with more than just a shared record. They are leaving each other with a new team record for wins in a season (19); the team's first-ever bid to the ECAC Tournament; and a bond that will last forever.

“Alex is just such a great leader and she's supportive and she pushes everybody at practice,” Bovee said about Lanieri. “She pushes me on defense and I'm going to miss her being out there and her leadership.”

“I couldn't be happier for her. She is one of the hardest workers and committed team members I have ever player with,” Lanieri said about Bovee. “Our team has become one and I love everyone's passion for the game and I will miss our laughs, hard work and celebrations.”

This story originally ran on the RWU Athletics site. For more on the Hawks, visit http://rwuhawks.com.