By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The start of Saturday afternoon’s game had fans reverting back to the finale of the 2012-13 season, when Fordham came in and shocked St. Bonaventure.
In the final 20 minutes, however, the Bonnies showed that things would be different this time around.
After trailing 28-23 at halftime, SBU outscored the Rams 43-24 in the second half to secure a 66-52 victory in front of 3555 fans at the Reilly Center. With the win, the Bonnies finish the regular season at 17-12, with a 10-8 record in the Atlantic 10.
The Rams had the halftime lead thanks to 42.3 percent shooting from the floor and a defense that held Bona to a 36.7 percent mark from the field. Mandell Thomas and Chris Sengfelder led all scorers with seven points each, while Ryan Rhoomes had six rebounds to help Fordham outrebound Bonaventure 20-17 in that period. The Rams shot 4-of-11 from three-point range, while the Bonnies failed to make any of their seven attempts from long range.
After the sluggish start, the brown and white came out of the break with much more energy and toughness than they displayed in the first 20 minutes. Bona started the second session on an 16-8 run, giving them a lead they never relinquished.
“No one played well in the first half, we were just lethargic,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt. “But in the second half we couldn’t have played better… that’s what you have to do in this league.
“Today was typical of our season. Didn’t go well at times, especially in the first half, but the kids responded.”
“We were down (in) the first half; we were playing terrible, I was playing terrible,” said center Youssou Ndoye. “I just wanted to tell them that I would pick it up and (that) I’ve got their back. Everything’s going to start with me, and we’ve got to start on the defensive end.”
Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half to pace the offensive explosion, while Ndoye, playing what was likely his final game in the Reilly Center, had 11 second-half points out of 15 overall. Posley and Ndoye were two of four Bonnies in double figures, with Dion Wright registering 12 points and Andell Cumberbatch adding 10.
Wright and Posley did not get the start, an unusual event for Schmidt’s team. Schmidt went with Iakeem Alston at point, Cumberbatch at the two-guard, Denzel Gregg at small forward, Chris Dees at power forward and Ndoye at center.
Gregg had a productive afternoon, with nine points, four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block in 33 minutes. Alston played 12 minutes, with two points, two assists and two steals. Dees had a rebound in 10 minutes of play.
The victory gave the Bonnies 10 A-10 wins, tied for the second-most in program history. That fact was not lost on Schmidt, who had nothing but praise for his team reaching the milestone.
“Couldn’t be prouder of our guys to be able to win 10 games in this league… (it) speaks volumes about the talent of our players (and) the character of our guys,” Schmidt said.
“If someone were to tell me that we’d win 10 games in this league at the beginning of the year I would have told them they were crazy, but the kids really fought. We had some adversity during the year… but we found a way.”