(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
After St. Bonaventure senior Marcus Posley’s shot-clock-beating jumper off the pass from Idris Taqqee swished through the net, he responded with a Jordan-esque shrug.
Posley would shrug several more times in the press room after the game, trying his best to describe a 47-point performance in one of his team’s biggest games of the year. He had produced a masterpiece in leading his team to a 98-90 victory over St. Joe’s in Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, potentially stamping an NCAA Tournament berth in the process.
“It’s an unbelievable experience,” the guard said. “We executed the game plan going into the game, but lucky for me, I had the hot hand early.”
No hand has been hotter in a game in Division I men’s basketball this year, as Posley’s 47 are the most a player has scored. In fact, only three players have scored more points in a game in Bonaventure history. Bob Lanier scored 51 against Seton Hall and 50 at Purdue in 1969, while Tom Stith had 48 at Manhattan in 1959.
“I’ve been doing this for a long, long time,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “That’s the best performance that I’ve seen on the sideline as a head coach or assistant coach. That was just incredible.”
Posley’s offensive output may not have been the biggest in school history, but it may have been the most important and efficient one.
SBU (21-7, 13-4 in A-10) entered the game in the “First four out” of the NCAA Tournament field according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. With Lunardi in attendance (in addition to being ESPN’s bracketologist, he’s a St. Joe’s grad who color commentates for the team’s radio broadcasts), the man simply known to some fans as MP3 made a major statement.
Posley’s 47 were not a result of a volume-shooting effort. He went 15-of-19 from the field, 6-of-7 from three-point range and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. His three-point attempts were deep, but far from misguided. He scored 14 straight Bona points from the seven-minute mark until there were two minutes remaining.
One of the main reasons for Posley’s explosion was the unwillingness for St. Joseph’s to double-team him. The Hawks (24-6, 13-4) remained focused on denying his teammate, Jaylen Adams, scoring chances. They achieved that goal, as Adams only attempted four shots and scored six points. Unfortunately for Phil Martelli’s group, that allowed Posley to feast on single-man defense.
“They were doubling Jay at the top of the key, and I felt like if I got the ball on the wing in a good position they didn’t double down on me at all,” Posley said. “So I was just like, ‘make them pay for it, and if I drive and get by them and if someone steps up, then someone’s gonna be open.’
“Most of the time when I got past the defender in front of me I was able to get to the rim or create separation for a jump shot.”
Whether he was attacking the rim or swishing a jumper, the Bonnies needed every point their veteran leader could give them. Although they headed to the locker room at halftime up 41-28, the Hawks, as good teams do, made some runs in the second half.
A 26-12 run to start the second session gave Joe’s an almost unfathomable two-point lead with 13 minutes left. Denzel Gregg answered quickly with a jumper, however, and the Bonnies never trailed again.
“We knew that St. Joe’s was gonna make a run, but I thought our guys really gathered themselves,” Schmidt said. “They answered their run with a run.”
SJU made it interesting by cutting the lead to five with 39 seconds remaining after five missed SBU free throws. Bona settled down, though, and reverted back to the A-10’s best free-throw shooting team, making the last three from the stripe to ice the contest.
Lost in Posley’s performance was Dion Wright’s big night. Wright scored 22 points, 16 of them coming in the second half, and grabbed six rebounds in the win. The Carson, Calif. native made all three three-point attempts and all five free throws in addition to going 7-of-12 from the field.
“You’re only as good as your seniors, and your seniors in crunch time have to step up… that’s the reason why we won,” Schmidt said.
Denzel Gregg was the third player in double figures with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but it was a monster block with 43 seconds left that Schmidt called the play of the game.
“The reason I’m most proud is the way we handled adversity,” Schmidt said. “They took the lead, and after the first TV timeout, I don’t think they missed a shot. But we answered it.
“When you’re up by 13 at halftime and a team comes out and they put it to you, it’s easy to lay down. But I thought our crowd was terrific, and we answered them. We went right back at them, and that was good to see.”
In the end, it was the show Bona’s no. 3 put on that the 6,457 observers in attendance will remember for a long time. Posley said that he scored 52 points in a high school game, but that 47 was the most he had put up since then.
The Bonnies’ captain sure picked the right time to have that career-high.