Knowing her role
Bowden comfortable coming off bench for Mavs
It was apparent the first day of practice this season — Hanna Bowden is a different player.
The 6-foot-1 senior from Montrose carries herself differently on and off the floor. There’s an air of confidence surrounding her. The fun-loving kid is all grown up.
“I would say experience, four years of doing this, that’s helped, and just game knowledge,” Bowden said Tuesday before the fifth-ranked Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team practiced at Brownson Arena. “Knowing more what to do and having that experience playing behind great players the last three years. I learned a lot, so now I can put that to use.”
Bowden was always the “kid sister” to Kelsey Sigl, who is now playing professional basketball in France. Bowden has come off the bench all four years at Mesa, a role that seems to suit her.
She’s averaging 3.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, playing about 11 minutes a night. Last week at Colorado Christian, she had four points and nine rebounds in 11 minutes in the first half.
“I played against an All-American, Kelsey Sigl, played with her and against her every day in practice the last three years,” Bowden said. “It’s that confidence of, ‘Well, you attempted to guard her, but you did guard her, you have that experience of playing against a great player.’ That helped a lot.
“I spent three years guarding a tremendous player. Anyone I come up against, she’s not better than her. (It’s a) can you do that? type of thing. There’s that confidence that you can guard anybody in the RMAC.”
This season, the Mavericks signed Aubry Boehme, a former NJCAA All-American post player, and she and Bowden feed off one another.
Not knowing who would replace Sigl spurred Bowden during the offseason. She’s transformed her body, getting leaner and stronger, and now leads the Mavericks on the fast break instead of trailing the break.
“I guess I would say the past couple of years, you’re not going to beat out Kelsey, that was kind of my mindset, which was probably poor,” she said, laughing. “Now it was: ‘Who am I going to beat out this year?’ I didn’t know Aubry. I tried to expand my game a little bit more, rather than just being inside, having that 15-foot-range shot, just to expand my game.
“I ate a lot better and tried to focus on losing fat to build muscle to be quicker and stronger.”
Bowden can catch the ball and finish on the run, and she added some nifty footwork in the post that allows her to score around defenders in the half-court game.
In a one-on-one drill Tuesday in practice, Bowden drove the baseline on her defender and banked a reverse hook shot high off the glass and in. She routinely pins her defenders deep in the paint and sometimes is a little surprised she’s so open — she’s used to being the player who cleans up on the offensive glass and scores while getting bumped inside.
“She’s been a great defender for us, a great rebounder,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “We want to get (scores) in there. That’s a high-percentage shot in the paint, and that’s definitely something we want to continue to get from our post play.”
Colorado Mesa (12-0, 8-0 RMAC) faces a crucial weekend when the Mavericks play CSU-Pueblo (10-3, 7-0) tonight and CU-Colorado Springs (4-7, 3-4) on Friday at Brownson Arena.
The teams play only once this season in the unbalanced conference schedule, so whoever wins these games will have the tiebreaker if the conference race goes down to the wire.
Bowden’s light-hearted personality has always made her popular with her teammates, and she’s a tireless worker on the floor. She sometimes gets in foul trouble from playing so hard, but she also has learned body control as she’s matured.
“She’s had a good year for us and hopefully down the stretch she plays great,” Wagner said. “When she comes in and brings that energy, that gives us a big lift every time, and we need that.”
Bowden might have deferred to her elders the past three years, but she knows she needs to be an offensive threat, not just a defender and rebounder.
“The past three years we’ve had people who could score, and we were trying to get them the ball more often,” Bowden said. “We have that (this season), too, but you also have to be a threat, so people don’t suck off to someone else. You have to keep them honest that you’ll attempt to score the ball. You have to make that happen.”