Sophomore center Bella Cravens grabs boards and raises intensity

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Sophomore center Bella Cravens grabs boards and raises intensity

Sophomore center Bella Cravens takes a free throw against the Gonzaga bulldogs on Nov. 22.

Sophomore center Bella Cravens takes a free throw against the Gonzaga bulldogs on Nov. 22.

Sophomore center Bella Cravens takes a free throw against the Gonzaga bulldogs on Nov. 22.

Sophomore center Bella Cravens takes a free throw against the Gonzaga bulldogs on Nov. 22.

By Randle Kinswa, Sports Reporter

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EWU sophomore center Bella Cravens has an easy-going personality off the court, but a fiery one on it.

“I just love her attitude and her spirit,” EWU head coach Wendy Schuller said. “She has kind of that … laid-back attitude at times. … She is also someone to not mess with, either.”

Schuller said Cravens’ personality is one of her best attributes on the court.  

“I think her personality carries onto the court,” Schuller said. “She has a lot of fun playing the game, … she plays extremely hard.” 

Schuller said Cravens plays with a lot of energy and fire and that she’s a great athlete. Schuller thinks Cravens has some big-time basketball in front of her and complimented her work ethic.

Schuller also said Cravens’ work ethic helps her be a leader by example.

Sophomore point guard Jessica McDowell-White said Cravens is an “absolute machine.”. 

McDowell-White also said Cravens has great intensity and is vocal.

“Clearly the statistics show that she chases absolutely everything,” McDowell-White said. “Her intensity on both ends of the court is amazing. … She’s very vocal out there which helps us with the young girls.” 

Schuller said there are some things in Cravens’ game that could improve.

One improvement Schuller wants Cravens to make is improved confidence.  Another improvement Schuller wants to see in Cravens is making herself a better all-around player.

“I think she could be really special in the paint as she continues to grow,” Schuller said. “We are going to continue to work on her perimeter skills and make her more comfortable out there.”

Schuller said a goal of EWU’s program is to make a player as well-rounded as they can be.

McDowell-White said Cravens is a great rebounder. 

“You know that if you are going to shoot, make or miss, that board is hers,” McDowell-White said. 

McDowell-White said that Cravens’ greatest strength on the court is her athleticism. 

“Defensively, she can guard anyone,” McDowell-White said. 

Cravens leads EWU in rebounds (21) and blocked shots (three) through three games.

Last year Cravens started the season out coming off the bench, but eventually won a starting job midway through the season.

Cravens averaged 7.5 points and  seven rebounds per game in the 2019 Big Sky Conference Tournament. She recorded her first career double double in EWU’s 67-65 overtime quarterfinal upset of Idaho State University, contributing 13 points and 11 rebounds. 

Cravens is from Maryknoll School in Laie, Hawaii. Her hobbies include beach bumming, hiking, surfing and spending time with her family. 

Cravens said her parents, especially her mom, are her driving motivation. Her mother, Sharlene Cravens, would drive her to school every day.

Cravens is is one of six kids. Cravens said she is the only one who got to go to private school, which was approximately 90 minutes from her house. 

“The sacrifices she made for me, … it definitely keeps me going and inspires me to be better and succeed. (I want ) to show her it wasn’t for nothing.” – Bella Cravens

Cravens said she started playing basketball at a really young age, but didn’t get really serious about playing until middle school.

Cravens said the pace and pressure of the college game is much different compared to high school.

“In high school, basketball wasn’t as strict,” Cravens said. “Here, we live and breathe basketball 24/7.”

Cravens said she likes the Cheney area.

“It’s definitely different than what I was used to growing up,” Cravens said. “But I really like it here. … It’s like a family environment, … small town, … small campus, … I just feel safe here.”

Cravens said she’s improved her on-court dialogue from last season. 

“I think confidence wise I’ve gotten better at (communicating) on the court,” Cravens said. “Not being afraid to direct traffic and not to step on anybody’s toes.”

Cravens and the Eagles’ next game is Nov. 22 at Gonzaga University. EWU will be seeking its first victory of the young season, having lost its first three regular season games. 

EWU’s next home game is Dec. 1 against Pepperdine.

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