By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93
This Day in Bonaventure History
March 11, 2012
Even in St. Bonaventure University Bonnies’ best years in men’s basketball, an Atlantic 10 Championship proved to be elusive. The legendary coaches from the school – Mike Reilly, Larry Wiese, Eddie Donovan and Jim Baron – just could not win the ultimate prize. That changed in 2012.
The Bonnies went into the A-10 Tournament in a tie for third place with Xavier. Due to a tiebreaker, the Musketeers were given the third seed and the Bonnies were given the fourth seed, giving both teams a bye in the first round.
The Bonnies played St. Joe’s on Friday and won, 71-68. The next day they faced UMass in the semifinals and won, 84-80. Hundreds and hundreds of students then boarded buses and cars and drove to Atlantic City, N.J. Adding to the hundred or so students already at the Tournament, the Bonnies had plenty of support for the championship game.
Televised nationally on CBS, the game was in the Bonnies’ control since the opening minutes. They lead by as much as 41-24 to open the second half. Xavier made a run, but could never even the score late in the game.
Bonaventure led 67-56, and as the clock winded down under 30 seconds, the players, coaches, fans and even administrators started celebrating. Schmidt hugged and congratulated each player, and injured guard Michael Davenport even picked up university president, Sr. Margaret Carney, and spun her in the air in celebration. It was reported that many tears were shed after the game.
Xavier coach Chris Mack spoke at great lengths about senior forward Andrew Nicholson, adding that he is the best player Mack has seen in person.
“He is an NBA player. Man is he good,” Mack said. “We had a really good plan that we were able to execute in game one. He out-executed our plan. He’s extremely long, he’s skilled, he’s unselfish, a poor man’s Tim Duncan, by far the best player in our league and an NBA team needs to take him in the first round.”
Nicholson led the scoring with 26 points. He also added 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
“This is a great moment for the program and for the school,” said coach Mark Schmidt. “From where we have come it’s been a long hard battle. A lot of times, you work and you work and you work and you still don’t have success. But someone is looking over us, and I told the guys in the locker room, we worked and worked and worked and got lucky. We had success.”
After much celebration and excitement, the team went to Nashville, Tenn. the next weekend to face Florida State in the NCAA Tournament second round.
Ironically, the first basketball game ever played at Bonaventure occurred on March 11, 1916.