photo courtesy of gobonnies.com
By: Anthony Goss, Sports Editor
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Through its first three games this season, the No. 22 St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had shot 22% from three. The Bonnies’ offense found their groove down the stretch against Clemson, defeating the Tigers 68-65 in the Charleston Classic semifinal.
Once again, the Brown and White found themselves in a grind. The Bonnies started the game with a backdoor layup from senior point guard Kyle Lofton, but Clemson rattled off 11 straight points and controlled the rest of the first half.
The Tigers’ lead grew to 16 but the Bonnies cut the deficit to 10 at the intermission.
“First half we really struggled,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We were happy being down 10 at halftime the way we played.”
With 12:33 left in the second half, PJ Hall knocked down a jumper, giving Clemson a 53-42 lead. Hall finished with 22 points.
“Clemson is well-coached,” Schmidt said. We had a terrible time guarding Hall.”
After a media timeout with 10:59 left in the game, St. Bonaventure drastically turned the momentum of the game. A 16-0 run punctuated by a 3-pointer from senior guard Jaren Holmes gave the Bonnies a 58-53 lead and they stayed in front through the final buzzer.
“We just showed some physical and mental toughness,” Schmidt said. “We didn’t panic.”
Lofton and Holmes shot a combined 8-of-9 from three in the second half, finishing with 22 points and 19 points respectively.
“I was definitely confident,” Lofton said. “I’m one of those shooters where I see one go in, the basket gets bigger.”
St. Bonaventure’s backcourt not only made a difference from the 3-point line but also the foul line. Holmes and Lofton shot a perfect 8-of-8 at the line. Clemson shot 4-of-8 as a team.
“Coach Schmidt prepares us for situations like that,” Holmes said. “I think our togetherness, and our brotherhood, it just shows.”
Bona’s fans made an impact for the second straight day in TD Arena, giving the team an extra boost as St. Bonaventure mounted its comeback.
“The Bona faithful got us through it again,” Holmes said. “They’re the best fanbase in the country. We need them every game and every game is a home game for us honestly.”
St. Bonaventure faces Marquette in the Charleston Classic championship game, Sunday at 7:30 on ESPN.