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DYNAMIC DEBUT: Keystone Grad Natalie Bowser Earns National Player of the Week at Penn State DuBois After Epic Triple-Double

DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Natalie Bowser was at home on Tuesday, scrolling through Instagram.

Something rather interesting popped up on her screen.

At first, the Keystone graduate and freshman on the Penn State DuBois women’s basketball team didn’t believe it. But as her eyes rolled over what was written below a picture of her in a Lions’ uniform, it sunk in.

She leapt to her feet.

Her roommates, all of whom are her teammates at Penn State DuBois, were initially alarmed.

“What’s going on, Natalie?” one of them asked.

Bowser smiled.

“I just got named National Player of the Week,” she bellowed.

(Pictured above, Natalie Bowser)

“It was really cool to find out, shockingly, like that,” Bowser said. “My coach didn’t say anything. I found out on my own.”

Bowser certainly had a debut worthy of snagging the first United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II National Player of the Week for women’s basketball this season.

In a 63-59 overtime win over Villa Maria on Nov. 4, Bowser put up a triple-double of 31 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.

The points and blocked shots were Penn State DuBois women’s basketball single-game records.

“It’s kind of all still surreal to me,” said Bowser, a 6-foot-1 forward, who will also play softball for the Lions this spring. “I’m coming in as a freshman, playing for a new team and that’s absolutely amazing. I love each and every girl on the team. Just being able to focus on the post has been really beneficial to me. I’m so thankful for it.”

Bowser was 11-of-22 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and sank 8-of-10 from the free throw line in her epic first game.

At Keystone, Bowser wore many hats — she even brought the ball up the court from time to time.

She still put up monster numbers for the Panthers, scoring 1,000 points and pulling down 1,000 rebounds during her standout career for Keystone.

“Having a more defined role, I feel, has given me more confidence,” Bowser said.

Even after her strong first game, Bowser had no idea just how good it was.

It wasn’t until the next day when head coach Pat Lewis tallied the statistics from film that her gaudy numbers were official.

“The stats were all messed up because Villa Maria didn’t do the stats right,” Bowser said, chuckling. “The next day, Coach called me and said he wanted to FaceTime with me and the team. I was like, ‘OK.’ He said, ‘Natalie, I just wanted to let you know in front of your fellow teammates that last night in our game you set school records with 31 points and 11 blocks.’

“My mouth just dropped,’” Bowser said. “I was like, ‘What?’”

Bowser put in a lot of work between the time her softball season at Keystone ended until the tipoff to the basketball season at Penn State DuBois.

She said she knew she would be the main post presence for the Lions and focused on improving even more in those areas.

One of those things was being in a better position to block shots — something she did with mixed results at Keystone.

“I was in foul trouble a lot last year,” Bowser said, chuckling.

The main way she worked on becoming a better shot blocker had nothing to do with getting out on the court.

Rather watching others on television.

Bowser watched a lot of post players on television. How they positioned themselves. How they extended to make a block attempt. How they avoided getting whistled for fouls.

“I watched a lot of basketball,” Bowser said. “I watched a lot of basketball videos. I’m an observer learner so I observed it and learned it. I tested it out in practices and it worked. So I just kind of took it from there and ran with it.

“The biggest thing I learned about blocking shots was where I should go,” Bowser added. “Going in the backside of them so I don’t get called for a foul. Being able to body up on someone instead of trying to overplay them and then get beat.”

Bowser has already formed a close bond with her teammates on the roster.

Most of them are her roommates.

Five of the players on the Penn State DuBois roster live together — including Clarion-Limestone graduate and sophomore guard Francis Milliron.

“We’re one big happy family,” Bowser said. “We understand there’s basketball and then there’s our family when we get back to the house. It’s two separate things.”

With Bowser in the middle and guards Milliron, Shannon Shaw and Union graduate Hailey Theuret, the Lions have a potential dynamic inside-outside game.

Milliron averaged 11.8 points last season. Shaw put up 13.3 points per night in 2022-23, but missed the the Villa Maria game due to illness, and Theuret played 35 minutes in the opener.

“When (Shaw) comes back, it’s definitely gonna help us not to put all the pressure on Francis and Hailey,” Bowser said. “There’s not just one person an opponent has to guard on our teams. There’s like four or five people on the court who can score.”

Bowser is certainly one of them.

Bowser is also well aware it was one game — a great one, a promising one, but still just her first collegiate outing.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. “When it comes to me, that’s the thing I look for. It’s like, ‘What can I do better? What can I do to become a better player to give our team the ability to win?’ What I’m gonna focus on from now on is probably making sure I finish at the hoop. Even if they’re hacking me, I need to finish because there were a lot of bunnies I missed against Villa that didn’t fall for me. I also want to work on my rebounding because the girls are just as big and sometimes bigger than me and I know that, even though I finished with my average in rebounds, I didn’t reach my potential.

“There’s so much more to work on,” Bowser added. “I’m just excited to keep working.”