Bonnies outlast Tigers, advance to Charleston Classic final

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.

Bonnies face Tigers in Charleston Classic semifinal

photo courtesy of gobonnies.com

By: Anthony Goss

“People are realizing nationally what the alumni base of Bonaventure is. There’s nothing more passionate, more proud,” St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt said yesterday. 

The passionate fans of the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team fueled Mark Schmidt’s squad to a tough win Thursday afternoon against Boise State. However, The No. 22 ranked team in the nation has a quick turnaround for their semifinal matchup in the Charleston Classic. 

On Friday afternoon, the Bonnies face the undefeated Clemson Tigers out of the ACC. Just like St. Bonaventure, the Tigers, coached by Brad Brownell, qualified for the NCAA Tournament last March. 

Senior forward Hunter Tyson leads the Tigers in scoring with 14 points per game. Tyson tallied only 10 points yesterday, but made both three point shots he took. 

Besides Tyson, Clemson has noteworthy shooting prowess. The Tigers shoot 48% from beyond the arc, and used their shooting to down Temple yesterday by making 11 of 21 from three. 

On the other hand, St. Bonaventure has struggled mightily from three on offense through three games (21.7%). If the Bonnies cannot make shots on their end, their defense needs to limit the Tigers from deep.

The Tigers also pose depth and versatility. In each of their wins, a different player has led in scoring. Nick Honor led Clemson yesterday with 19 points, making all seven of his shots, four coming behind the three point line. 

In contrast, the experienced Bonnies tout a strong defense ranked 12th in the nation in defensive field goal percentage. The Bonnies showcased their defensive versatility as well in yesterday’s matchup.

After Boise State’s Emmanuel Akot started with 24 points, Schmidt placed senior guard Dominick Welch on the senior Bronco. Akot went scoreless for the final seven minutes. 

With an abundance of scoring options posed by the Tigers, the Bonnies will need a strong defensive showing as they continue to find their groove offensively.

In what could be another grind, the fans at TD Arena could make a difference. Clemson plays in their home state, but the St. Bonaventure supporters had a strong display against Boise State.

St. Bonaventure and Clemson tip off at 2:30 on ESPN2.

Loyola Chicago accepts invitation to Atlantic 10, will join next season

Courtesy: loyolaramblers.com

By: Anthony Goss

CHICAGO — Loyola University at Chicago has accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic 10 conference beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, the school announced yesterday.

The move comes amid major conference realignment developments in collegiate athletics within the 2021 year.

“Loyola’s commitment to the high-level scholastic achievement of all of its students, coupled with its excellent athletic profile, from success in basketball, soccer and volleyball to outstanding facilities and resources is a perfect fit for the A-10,” said A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade. “The addition expands the A-10 footprint into the Chicago market, giving the conference a presence in three of the top four media markets in the United States.”

Loyola participates in 13 of the 21 sponsored sports by the A-10, but the move carries the largest weight in men’s basketball. In three of the last four seasons, the Ramblers have won at least a share of the Missouri Valley regular-season championship. The Ramblers reached the Sweet 16 last season and the Final Four in 2018.

St. Bonaventure has its own connection to Loyola athletics. Current Loyola-Chicago director of athletics Steve Watson previously served as the director of athletics at Bona’s. Watson hired Mark Schmidt in 2007, who revitalized the men’s basketball team by leading the Bonnies to their first A-10 conference title in program history in 2012. The women’s program had its best season to date, going 31-4 and reaching the Sweet 16

Besides the basketball programs, St. Bonaventure’s women’s soccer team qualified for the conference tournament in six straight seasons and both men’s and women’s cross country had historic seasons.

Watson oversaw several athletic facility improvements and upgrades in his tenure at St. Bonaventure, most notably the unveiling of Bob Lanier Court.

Bonnies defeat Saints, best start since 2012

photo courtesy of gobonnies.com

By: Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — “You can always defend and rebound,” St. Bonaventure women’s basketball coach Jesse Fleming said. 

The Bonnies grinded out a win against rival Siena on Tuesday night at the Reilly Center 50-42. The win came in spite of poor offensive execution, according to Fleming.

“I’m not happy, as far as execution goes,” Fleming said. “I don’t think we got a lot through the offense. Against the top teams in the A10 that’s not gonna work.”

Instead, the Bonnies secured the win through suffocating defense and control of the glass. Siena shot 22% from the field and St. Bonaventure outrebounded the Saints 44-39.

Down 22-21 at the break and finding offense sparingly, the Bonnies looked for a spark in the second half. Newcomer Tianna Johnson provided a boost for her squad with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

“Jesse is always on us about rebounding and crashing hard,” T. Johnson said. “If I get boards it’s just for my team.”

Senior guard Asianae Johnson helped the Bonnies close out the Saints at the end. She scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 4-4 from the foul line. 

To Fleming, Johnson’s defensive efforts proved the biggest factor in winning the game.  

With 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, A. Johnson drew a charge on Siena guard Amari Anthony and proceeded to draw another foul at the offensive end. She hit both free throws and tied the score at 34-34 before the fourth quarter. 

“That was huge. I thought that was a big-time play by a senior,” Fleming said. “If she can do it, then everyone else on the team is gonna go and sacrifice their body.”

Siena guard Rayshel Brown had 14 points for the night. She and A. Johnson traded baskets throughout, reminding Johnson of their previous matchup in the PSAL in New York. 

“It felt like high school, honestly,” Johnson said. “It was a little scuffle during but it was all love at the end of the day.”

Neither team hit shots from the outside, but St. Bonaventure capitalized in key areas. The Bonnies outscored the Saints in the paint 28-14. They also made 14 free throws to only 11 from Siena. 

“Getting to the free-throw line was very much crucial to us,” A. Johnson said. “We didn’t hit a three but we made that up with getting to the line.”

The 2-0 start to the season marks the best for the Bonnies since 2012. They look to build on their hot start when they face the Cleveland State Vikings in their first road matchup of the year.

Bonnies host Saints in season opener

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By: Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — “The Reilly Center, there’s nothing like it,” St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt said. 

He and his nationally ranked Bonnies welcome back fans to the Reilly Center in Tuesday’s season opener against Siena after a successful season playing in front of empty seats. 

But besides the return of fans and the unveiling of an A-10 championship banner and rings provides one more chance for the Bonnies to reminisce on one of the best seasons in program history. 

“Those kids deserve to have the banner raised and given out their rings,” Schmidt said.

After the celebration though, Bona’s turns their full attention to reigning MAAC champion Siena Saints. The teams renew their rivalry in a battle traditionally known as the Franciscan Cup. 

Though the Bonnies’ expectations are lustrous, they have lost their last three home-openers with fans present.

They also lost their previous matchup with Siena 78-65 in 2019.

“There’s only a rivalry because both teams have won and both teams have lost,” Schmidt said. “There’s no rivalry if one team has dominated the other.”

In the Bonnies’ exhibition against Alfred on Thursday, redshirt sophomore Linton Brown and redshirt freshman Quadry Adams led the way with 19 and 13 points, respectively. While senior guards Kyle Lofton and Jalen Adaway remain game-time decisions, Bona’s will look to their newcomers to provide a spark.

“They just need to come in and play their role,” Schmidt said. “If they play to their strengths, I think they’re good enough players to help us this year.”

Siena will rely on newcomers of their own. Anthony Gaines, a former four-star recruit, boasts top-line athleticism and transfers Jayce Johnson and Colby Rodgers both look for bigger roles on head coach Carmen Maciariello’s squad.

But the Saints’ most dangerous weapon roams the paint, and his name is Jackson Stormo. He returns for his senior year after a breakout season, averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds. 

The Bonnies must attempt to slow Stromo while simultaneously accounting for the new talent without a lot of film to prepare them. 

“They’re really good players. We know what those guys can do. The question is can we stop them?” Schmidt said. 

Schmidt has tried to prepare them as best as possible, despite the lack of film on Siena’s newer players.

“Every season opener is the same way. You don’t know what they’re gonna run, you don’t have tape,” Schmidt said. “You really try to take care of yourself and prepare the best you can.”

Schmidt expects his team’s national ranking to become an afterthought come tip off. 

“When the game starts, Siena doesn’t care if we’re ranked twenty-third,” Schmidt said. “We’re gonna go out and play like we play all the time with a chip on our shoulder. We’re gonna play hard.”