Men’s basketball: Bonnies’ second-half surge falls short in NIT loss

(Marcus Posley Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Senior guard Marcus Posley was the last player in a white and brown jersey off the court, taking a moment to acknowledge the Reilly Center crowd that had idolized him for the past two seasons.

If the Bonaventure men’s basketball season had been a perfect storybook, the final moment of Posley’s home collegiate career would have been the victory over UMass on his Senior Day. His last collegiate game would not have been in Olean, N.Y., but on a court with “March Madness” emblazoned on it.

Unfortunately for Posley, fellow senior Dion Wright and the rest of the team, there would be no storybook ending this year. Instead, the Bonnies would fall to Wagner in the first round of the NIT, 79-75.

As much as they attempted to block it out of their minds, as much as they tried to flip the switch and gear up for a deep tournament run, Bona was unable to shake the Selection Sunday snub that left the school out of the NCAA Tournament.

“Seeing some of the guys’ faces, you can tell (getting left out of the tourney) affected them a lot,” Posley said.

Wagner came out firing, outscored a lackadaisical SBU squad 40-26 in the first half of the game and was able to weather a Bonaventure comeback to pull off the win in the final minutes. The Seahawks shot 48.4 percent (30-of-62) from the field and used the 1-3-1 zone that led them to the Northeast Conference regular season title to hold the Bonnies to a 41.9 percent (26-of-62) clip.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Adams led the team in scoring with 24 points on 8-of-20 shooting, including six threes. Posley was not far behind with 18, while Dion Wright scored 12 and Idris Taqqee and Denzel Gregg each scored 10.

Romone Saunders led Wagner’s attack with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and four triples. Three other Seahawks also scored in double figures, with forward Mike Aaman finishing a rebound short of a double double.

The 16 offensive rebounds Wagner collected didn’t seem like a major factor on the stat sheet since Bonaventure grabbed 15. However, the four extra second chance points the Seahawks registered looked big in a four-point win.

The contest could have reverted the 4,793 Bona faithful in attendance back to the Jan. 19 home game against Dayton. While the Flyers are obviously a much higher caliber team than the Seahawks, the rough, uninspired starts and furious comebacks that fell just short were very similar.

“We didn’t come out well at all… we didn’t have any energy, they knocked us back,” said Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. “And then in the second half, we got ourselves back into the ballgame. But every time we got close, give Wagner credit, they made a play to stretch the lead out a little bit.

“I thought our effort was good in the second half, much better than it was in the first half, but we got down big in the first half and it was hard to overcome.”

As hard as it may be for Bona fans to believe right now, Schmidt said the past four days did not define the season.

“Winning 22 games, 14 in the conference and an Atlantic 10 (regular season) championship, those are the things that we’ll remember,” he said. “It’s disappointing how it ended, but that’s sport, that’s basketball; not everybody finishes the season with a win.

“It’s a season that we’ll all remember.”

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