By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
In a typically-intense St. Bonaventure-St. Joseph’s battle, the Bonnies came out on top with a 70-61 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Marcus Posley had a tremendous game, leading SBU with 23 points on 8-18 shooting from the floor, including a 5-10 day from three. His big performance launched him back into the Atlantic 10 scoring lead and gave the Bonnies the lift they needed in the second half, where they outscored the Hawks by ten after trailing by one at the half.
“I think everybody just rallied together. We finally hit that point in the game where everybody was clicking with each other,” said Posley. “(Down) the stretch, execution is a must. Guys dialed in and we got the job done.”
Posley’s last three gave the Bonnies a 60-54 lead with 2:45 left. The execution on that play was some of Bona’s finest this season.
“You try to use the clock and get a shot at the end,” said Bona head coach Schmidt. “I thought our guys really executed the play to get Marcus the three.”
Youssou Ndoye chipped in 15 points for the Bonnies. He made one of the biggest plays in the game five minutes into the second half when he stepped into the passing lane to steal a St. Joe’s pass, then slammed home a two-handed dunk on the fast break to give the Bonnies their first lead of the ballgame. The Bonnies never trailed again after that huge shift in momentum.
“I was just trying to get our guys going because they always follow me and in the first half I came out flat, turning the ball over in the first minute and missing some defensive assignments, said Ndoye. “In the second half I promised them that I would play better and just get the energy going. I was just trying to make a play.
“I think every time you come off two bad losses and (win) two in a row you have the momentum going on the road to Duquesne. We’re just trying to get good momentum and steal another one on the road.”
Dion Wright, who was in foul trouble for most of the George Mason win, added 14, while Andell Cumberbatch scored nine. After Cumberbatch picked up his fourth foul, Denzel Gregg hit a big jumper with 3:51 to play to extend the Bonnies’ lead to three.
It was a big team win, and Schmidt took note of that.
“I thought we got off to a sluggish start in the first seven minutes similar to (the game against) George Mason, but I thought we found ourselves and finished the half. Going into halftime, I thought we felt good about ourselves; we didn’t play well in the first half but were only down by one.
“(In the) second half we came out with a lot more energy. We talk about the trifecta all the time (defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball) and I thought we really defended.”
Everyone knew DeAndre’ Bembry was going to get his points, 27 on this day, but Chris Wilson and Isaiah Miles are two other big contributors to the Hawks attack, and Bona was able to successfully neutralize them. Wilson was held scoreless, while Miles went just 3-10 for the field, scoring 10 points overall.
“We didn’t do a very good job on Bembry, but we thought that Wilson and Miles were the two other guys,” said Schmidt. “Miles was a role guy last year and really played off the seniors but this year he’s much more aggressive, had a good game against Fordham. Holding (Wilson) to zero points was a heck of a job.
“Bembry got his 27, but I thought we defended those other guys decently. I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball with 18 assists and seven turnovers. We didn’t rebound the way we were capable of rebounding, which is something that we need to improve on, but I thought we found a way.”
SBU had a reputation last season of being a team that folded in the last three minutes of the game, losing some heartbreakers in the process. They thrived in the final moments against the Hawks.
“In the Atlantic 10, I tell the guys all the time that it’s gonna come down to the last two or three minutes, the last two or three possessions. The team that can make the plays, both offensively and defensively, is gonna win the game,” said Schmidt. “We found a way to make those plays and Marcus hit a couple big shots. And we finished the game making our foul shots which is critical.”
Next, Bona will try to do just what Ndoye said: steal a game on the road against Duquesne. The Dukes will come into Thursday night’s matchup at 6-10, with a 1-3 record in the A-10.