By Chuckie Maggio, @ChuckieMaggio
St. Bonaventure’s run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament came to an end Saturday afternoon in a 67-48 loss to the St. Joseph’s Hawks.
After the teams were tied at 29 at halftime, the Bonnies fell flat on both sides of the floor in the second half. They were outscored 38-19 in the final 20 minutes, only shooting 16 percent. They only shot 25.4 percent in the entire game. The only Bonnie to score 10 points was Charlon Kloof, and he wasn’t even his usual self against the Hawks.
“(Saint Joe’s) did a really good job on offense, which hurt our offense because we couldn’t get out and run the floor in transition like we usually do,” said Bonaventure guard Matthew Wright.
Another reason for the offensive woes was missed layups. The Bonnies missed so many point-blank shots in this one that even the most veteran basketball statistician would probably lose track. For a team so adept at driving to the hole and showing poise around the rim, it looked like there was a lid on the basket today.
“When you shoot the way we did today, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have,” said Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt.
The St. Joseph’s Hawks obviously deserve a lot of credit for their performance. Halil Kanacevic was phenomenal, with 26 points on 8-12 shooting. He had his way with the Bonaventure forwards all day, and he got to the line 12 times as well, making eight. When Kanacevic is playing his best basketball, the Hawks are a tough team to beat. He made up for his teammates having rough shooting days by turning in one of the best individual games of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
“Kanacevic was the difference. He was tremendous tonight offensively,” said Schmidt.
This game marked the end of an era for Bonaventure seniors Matthew Wright, Charlon Kloof, Marquise Simmons and Danny Farrell. All four were instrumental in the Bonnies’ rise back to national respectability.
“At this point it’s hard to reminisce,” said Wright. “The loss stings right now. In a few days I’ll be able to look back on my career, but it’s hard to right now.”
The Bonnies won’t be playing in the NCAA Tournament, but they could probably still play in one of the postseason tournaments. The College Basketball Invitational looks most likely right now, but there’s still an outside chance at an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
“We still have games to play,” Wright said. “We want to play 3-4-5 more games together. When we get back, it’s back to the gym.”
Despite the outcome today, the Bonnies still had an incredible season. They were projected to finish 12th or 13th in the preseason polls, yet they exceeded expectations, winning 18 games and making some everlasting Bonaventure Basketball memories. The shot by Jordan Gathers to beat Saint Louis will go down as one of the biggest shots in Bonaventure history. The upset of UMass was the first win over a ranked team at the Reilly Center since 2000. The Bonaventure-Canisius rivalry was renewed, highlighted by Youssou Ndoye’s monster put-back dunk in the opening minutes. This team made some great moments and showed incredible growth.
Bona fans already can’t wait until next year. Today just wasn’t their day.