By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
On Wednesday night, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies faced off against a George Washington team that was about as cold as it can get after losing six of its last seven games.
As Bona fans know, that is often a recipe for disaster, however, and it was once again in our nation’s capital. The Colonials thoroughly dominated the Bonnies in a 69-46 rout in front of 2560 fans at the Charles E. Smith Center.
Much of the confidence Bonaventure had coming into this game was gone in the first ten minutes of play, when George Washington jumped out to a 19-10 lead on the strength of 7-of-10 shooting including four three pointers. The momentous start propelled a commanding first half, and they entered halftime with a 36-18 lead. They shot 66.7 percent in the first half while holding Bona to a feeble 29.2 percent mark from the field.
The Bonnies performed better offensively in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the floor, but the Colonials shot 50 percent as well in addition to forcing seven turnovers. George Washington never surrendered the lead and was even able to let some of its sparsely-used freshmen enjoy a couple minutes of playing time as time winded down.
Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt pinpointed the first half’s defensive struggles as his team’s downfall.
“We didn’t lose the game because we didn’t shoot the ball, we lost the game because we didn’t defend,” Schmidt said. “The game was lost in the first half. A part of it was the offense, but we didn’t defend.”
“We definitely got outworked in the first half,” said junior guard Marcus Posley. “They played more physical than us and guys weren’t ready to play. (In the) second half we played way better and shot 50 percent but at the same time they shot 50 percent.
“We had a chance, chipping away and chipping away, but we just had some careless mistakes at the end. Throwing away the ball like that and not playing as hard as you can until all zeroes, that’s critical.”
The loss had major seeding implications for the Atlantic 10 Tournament next month, and Posley understood that Bona let one get away.
“We were tied (with George Washington), and it was a good opportunity for us to take this tie-breaker and go up to fourth place, fifth place, whatever it may be. But we blew it.
“Our veteran guys gotta do more; that’s just plain and simple. I’ve got to score the ball, Youssou’s got to play better, Andell’s got to play better. We can’t let a team shoot (66.7 percent) in the first half (while) we shoot (29.2 percent); that’s unacceptable.”
One of the key factors in Bona’s oft-inadequate offensive performance the past nine games is Posley’s extended shooting slump. Just when it looked like he was starting to work his way out of it by scoring 16 points against St. Joseph’s, he took another step back against George Washington, missing all six of his three-point attempts. He is now 11-of-66 from behind the arc in his last nine games, and the frustration is obviously evident.
“I’ve got to score the ball. There’s no excuse for that, I’ve just been shooting the ball terrible. I just have to keep getting in the gym and keep shooting until (Saturday) to find that rhythm.”
Another key piece still looking to find his rhythm is Iakeem Alston. In his fourth start since taking over for an injured Jaylen Adams, he missed all five of his shots from the field and had two assists in 16 minutes of play.
When asked if Adams’s absence was having to do with the team’s struggles, Schmidt bluntly replied, “What do you think?”
To Posley, it’s all about rallying around Alston and playing better as a unit.
“(Jay) helps on both sides of the floor, but we can’t do anything about that now,” he said. “We’ve got to just encourage ‘Keem to keep playing as hard as he can and just get better each day. He’s still learning guys’ ways of playing, he’s still learning both ends of the floor, and Jaylen’s helping him (and) coaching at the same time.
“We just have to be more consistent; that’s critical if we want to win these next three games and have momentum going into Brooklyn… If we play the way we did tonight, we’re going to lose the rest of the games of the season. Everyone just needs to play the way they’re capable of playing.”
Bona (14-12, 7-8 in A-10) returns home on Saturday afternoon in its Homecoming matchup against Duquesne. The brown and white are currently ninth in the Atlantic 10 standings.