By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
After an unbelievable comeback win at Duquesne on Thursday night, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies head to Rhode Island for a Sunday matinee at 2 in the Ryan Center.
The Bonnies snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Dukes. Down by 11 with 2:46 to go, it looked like they were about to lose another game in the Palumbo Center, an arena they had lost seven of their previous eight games at under coach Mark Schmidt. But then Marcus Posley took over, with 12 points in the final 2:35 of regulation on the strength of three three-pointers and a three-point play. The last three-pointer with six seconds on the clock sent the game into overtime, where Jaylen Adams scored six points and Bona prevailed, 100-97.
Posley’s performance was reminiscent of Eric Mosley’s 39-point display in a win over UMass in February 2013. The two guards share definite similarities, as both spent their first season at a Division I school, transferred to a community college sophomore year and transferred to Bonaventure before their junior year. Like Mosley, Posley is stepping up when he needs most, with that three-point shooting ability leading the way.
In Mosley’s first season in brown and white, the Bonnies won the Atlantic 10 Tournament and went to the NCAAs. If Posley’s team is going to do the same, they are going to have to win games like this one against a good Rhode Island team.
The Rams, like Bonaventure, come into this one at 4-2 in the A-10; they are 12-5 overall. They beat Nebraska, who was ranked number 21 at the time, by four in overtime, then lost to Kansas by 16. In conference play they have wins against Saint Louis, Fordham, Duquesne and La Salle, with losses to VCU (by five) and UMass (by four). A well-coached team with Dan Hurley at the helm, the Rams won last year’s meeting at the Reilly Center, 87-78.
Can the Bonnies grab their fourth straight win, or will Rhody win two in a row? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 118-115 as Bonnies coach, 5-4 against Rhode Island.
Rhode Island- Dan Hurley. 25-40 as Rams coach, 1-1 against St. Bonaventure.
Key players for Rhode Island:
E.C. Matthews- 6-5 sophomore guard. Matthews, last year’s A-10 Rookie of the Year, is one of the most dynamite playmakers in the conference. With 17 points and 4.8 assists a game, he gets it done on both sides of the court. He’s not the best three-point shooter, but he has a nice release from deep and his athleticism is off the charts. He has scored double-digit points in 15 of the 17 games this season and had 24 against the Bonnies last season, so he’s going to get his points.
Hassan Martin- 6-7 sophomore forward. Martin is the guy for the Rams down low. With 11.9 points and 7.2 boards a contest, his production has increased significantly from last year, where he averaged about six and six. He has 3.1 blocks a game, just in front of Youssou Ndoye for first in the league. He was also the league’s blocks leader in his freshman year. The matchup between he and Ndoye is going to be a pivotal one.
Keys to victory for Rhode Island: Shutting down Posley is key. He showed on Thursday that he can singlehandedly take over a game, and the Rams cannot let that happen. That means E.C. Matthews has to do a bang up job defensively, which he is certainly capable of. Adams had a very efficient game last time out as well, with 14 assists and no turnovers. He will be a priority as well. If the Bona guards aren’t producing, Rhode Island has the upper hand in this matchup
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies can’t fall behind the way they did in the first half Thursday night. Giving up 51 points in the first stanza will not be excusable against a Rhode Island team that has thrived in second halves this season. Coming out with a defensive mindset is crucial to victory on Sunday, and Bona will have to revert to their shutdown performances against UMass and George Mason.
Prediction: Posley and the Bonnies have momentum, and even in a hostile road environment against a good defensive team, they have seemingly figured it out offensively. It’s going to be another close contest, but I’m going with SBU. 73-69 Bonnies