Bonnies fall short in A-10 opener vs. VCU

 

By: Teddy Caputo  

The St. Bonaventure University women’s soccer team (0-6-4) lost on Thursday at the Marra Athletics Fields Complex to the VCU Rams (6-2) 3-0.

The match started with VCU aggressively attacking the net, with their first shot on goal coming in the second minute by sophomore CiCi Fox.  The Bonnies were fierce with on-ball defense from the start, with junior Micah Hoffbauer leading the way.  She made numerous plays during the game to prevent scoring opportunities for VCU.

However, the Rams were able to get the ball through some of the holes in the defense with crisp passes and accurate crosses, giving them numerous shot attempts early on.  All their shots missed, including two header attempts by sophomore midfielder Samantha Jarebek.

The game was still scoreless until the 44th minute when Jarebek fired a shot that went just to the right of Bonnies’ goalie Lauren Malcolm’s hands, and into the net.  The Rams’ next two goals came in the second half, with midfielder Alyssa Tallent scoring a goal in the 60th minute off a rebound. Jarebek scored her second goal of the game in the 79th minute when her shot deflected of the foot of  Bonnies senior Gretta Lacouture. The deflected shot bounced right and rolled past Malcolm into the net.

Although the Bonnies were behind for most of the game, they did not give up.  Both teams were physical throughout the match, slide tackling one another, colliding into each other and getting many fouls called in the process. There were six fouls called on the Bonnies and four called on the Rams.

The Bonnies had chances waved off by the referee, including the offsides call on junior forward Bella May late in the first half that wiped out the goal she had scored. May also appeared to have gotten tripped in the 66th minute but no foul was called.

Coach Abbey Pearson says the officiating was not to blame in this game. “We are able to handle the adversity and react to that.  Sometimes you get calls your way, and sometimes you don’t” said Pearson. “They (the officials) had an even called game, and the game wasn’t about them tonight, which is the way it should be.”

It also looked like there may have been a scuffle between Hoffbauer and Fox. “When she was pressed out, I don’t think she was expecting me to come up as fast I did, and our feet just got tripped up on each other,” said Hoffbauer.

When asked about improvements for next game Pearson said, “we need to work on connecting passes and playing a little quicker under pressure, which will come in practice. Putting more pressure on each other in practice will prepare us come game time.” Senior forward Mariah Marrero agreed with her coach’s statement. “We had a couple really good chances we could’ve put away,” said Marrero. “We just need to work on finishing and making that final pass to get through.  Once we get that down, more goals will start to come.”

The Bonnies have done well offensively this season, scoring five more goals this year already than their entire season total last year of seven. However, on Thursday the Rams outshot the Bonnies 11 to 7 and 8 to 2 in shots on goal.

I asked Hoffbauer what the Bonnies can do better moving forward, and she said although the team has improved tremendously since the start of the summer, they could do better listening to each other on the field.  “Listening is important for us, because we are talking a lot more than we did before,” said Hoffbauer, “Sometimes we need to stay a little more composed and just settle down.  If we do this, I think we’ll really be able to play around, switch up the field and really open things up on the attack.”

The Rams’ victory over the Bonnies makes the teams an even 2-2 in all-time meetings. The women’s soccer team looks for their first win of the season this Sunday when they face the Richmond Spiders (0-9) at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium in Richmond, Virginia.

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Mearns brings experience, optimism to jumpstart Bonnies lax program

By: Jeff Uveino 

“I hadn’t been on this campus in probably 26 years.”

Randy Mearns sat back in his chair, recalling his NCAA playing days with Canisius College.

Mearns, an All-American lacrosse player at Canisius from 1990-92 and the school’s all-time leading scorer, painted the gameday picture of a rainy afternoon at St. Bonaventure.

“When I was playing at Canisius, St. Bonaventure actually had a men’s NCAA lacrosse team,” Mearns remarked. “The last thing I remember was coming here to play, we lost at the back fields, and I ate bologna sandwiches.”

Little did he know that decades later, he would be put in charge of bringing lacrosse back to a school that hasn’t seen a Division I men’s program since 1993.

Mearns, a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, has spent his life around the game of lacrosse. He played in the National Lacrosse League from 1993-2002 for the Rochester Knighthawks and Buffalo Bandits. He was captain of the Knighthawks for six seasons, and captain of team Canada during the 1998 World Championship.

Mearns has served as a coach of team Canada since 2006, leading his home nation to a World Championship in 2014. He also served as head coach of his alma mater for 19 years, leading Canisius to NCAA tournament appearances in 2008 and 2012. However, after the 2017 season, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame member saw a new opportunity arise.

“My family ended up getting a house in Ellicottville,” Mearns said. “But, when they announced that they were starting a D1 program here, I didn’t really think anything of it.”

It wasn’t until Matt Brown, associate head coach at the University of Denver and member of the Team Canada coaching staff, reached out to Mearns about the job that he started thinking about SBU.

“[Brown] told me, just so you know, Bill Tierney [head coach at Denver] put your name on a shortlist at St. Bonaventure,” said Mearns. “You’ve got to explore that.”

Mearns paused and sighed with a smile, recalling the revelation.

“I was in a situation at Canisius where I wasn’t going to be under contract,” he said. “Not that I was leaving, I just thought that I needed to explore what they were doing at SBU. I didn’t hide anything from my former institution, I just told them that I wanted to go explore this, and they said I had the opportunity to do that.”

After visiting SBU, Mearns was convinced that he could sell lacrosse in the hills of Allegany.

“When I met the staff here, it felt like a family,” Mearns said. “Everything is relationship based, and the academics are phenomenal.”

Mearns was named head coach of the St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse team in June. His next task?

Recruit.

“What I knew during recruiting was because of the explosion of lacrosse, even though most Division 1 programs had their 2019 teams figured out, there were still 44,000 kids looking for a home,” said Mearns.

He remained confident throughout the recruiting process, recognizing that there are only 72 NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse teams, and there was a large amount of talent still available. Mearns’ experience in the game had also built connections that helped him find quality players.

“I spent 19 years at Canisius, so I already have great relationships with coaches from colleges, clubs and high schools,” Mearns said. “It’s just a matter of reaching out to these guys. You take advantage of the contacts that you have, and then do your own research on kids to make sure you’re bringing in ones that fit well.”

Mearns’ connections to team Canada were another recruiting help. Lacrosse has greatly expanded in the country in recent years, which is reflected by their recent World Championship victory under Mearns.

Of the 32 incoming freshmen men’s lacrosse players, nine are from Canada.

“I realized that we just needed to get the kids on campus,” said Mearns. “Once we get guys here, they understand the vision. They see the academic profile and the family-oriented culture, and it doesn’t become a hard sell.”

The Bonnies will go into the 2019 season as perhaps the youngest team in the NCAA, with a roster of 32 freshmen, one sophomore transfer and one junior transfer. They will open up competitive play on Saturday, Sept. 22, with a scrimmage against John Carroll University, a contest coach Mearns is excited about.

“We won’t know where we’re at until we play games,” he said. “But we’re going to be competitive. We have some really good lacrosse players.”

Mearns acknowledged that building up a new program is no easy task, but he has high expectations for St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse in the near future. With the right resources, Mearns said, he wants to build the Bonnies program into a national power.

“My goal here is to evolve over the next four years,” Mearns said. “We could win a national championship. Some people might think that’s kind of crazy, but it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes.”

Mearns is bringing his decorated lacrosse background to SBU and is ready to put in the work to build this program up into what he thinks could be a perennial power.

“We haven’t earned anything,” Mearns said. “We have to be humble and work our tails off. Everybody has their own individual goals, and as a coaching staff it’s our job to provide all the resources and mentorship we can to help our guys start to realize those goals.”

Missed chances sink Bonnies against St. Francis (PA)

By: Justin Myers 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies (3-2-1) lose to St. Francis (Pa.) (4-3-0) 3-1 on a Wednesday night at Marra Athletics Field Complex.

Within the first 10 minutes of the first half the Bonnies had three chances to take the lead. Shots by Jon-Michael Perkins and Isaiah Wilson missed wide. Minutes later Kosi Nwafornso’s shot on target was saved. After a scoreless first-half where the Bonnies out shot St. Francis 7-5, it was relatively even between the teams.

In the beginning of the second half Issac Boamah was fouled in the box in the 52nd minute. That lead to Nwafornso scoring his fifth goal of the season from penalty spot giving the Bonnies 1-0 lead.

This lead didn’t last long, 56 seconds later the Red Flash tied it up 1-1 with a goal from center back Eddie Ganime.

A few minutes later the Red Flash took the lead when forward Gabriel Castro put one in the back of the net giving them a 2-1 lead.

The Bonnies had a chance to even things up but missed their opportunities with attacks from Boamah and another shot attempt by Wilson.

The Red Flash put the game away in the last minute with a breakaway goal by forward Ryan Berhorst.

Bonnies coach Kwame Oduro liked the team’s effort, but the team needs to finish their chances

“Both teams had good chances they capitalized on theirs and we didn’t” Oduro said.

To improve for their next game Oduro said they need to finish their chances when they get them.

“We have to learn when you’re up a goal how to play and to mentally stay switched on” Oduro said.

Bonaventure looks to bounce back as they travel to Canisius on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

NFL Returns

By Matthew Shalloe

After a seven month wait from the conclusion of Super Bowl LII back on Feb. 4, the NFL is officially back. Whether it be the struggles of the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1), or the flaming hot start of quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick (eight touchdowns through two games), we have already been surprised on our beloved football Sundays. Although it’s early, the first two weeks of the NFL season has been exactly what we have waited all offseason for, both entertaining and enjoyable for fans across America.

Let’s start by talking about the previously mentioned Pittsburgh Steelers, who are off to a bit of a rough start, winless through the first two weeks of the season.

After a week one tie with the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers dropped their home opener in week two in a 42-37 loss at the hands of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes passed for 326 yards and a whopping six touchdowns, bringing his season total to 10 through his first two games as a starter.

It is still too early for the Steelers to hit the panic button, but it is the perfect time for them to finally give All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell the money he wants, as they need him back desperately. Bell has continued his holdout in dispute of being franchise tagged for the second year in a row. The offense is clearly not the same without him, and if the Steelers want to right the ship, they will need Bell in their backfield going forward.

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Courtesy: The Spun 

As we continue to talk about the electric start to the season of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it’s almost unbelievable to say that another NFL quarterback has gotten off to a better start. What Mahomes is doing is unbelievable and has Chiefs fans everywhere already thinking they’re bound for a playoff berth.

However, Buccaneers quarterback and NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick might be just that much better to start the season. Fitzpatrick is filling in for Jameis Winston, who was suspended three games for breaking NFL personal conduct policy, and making the most of his opportunity. Playing on his seventh team in his 14 NFL season, Fitzpatrick is off to a flaming hot start, passing for 819 yards and recording 9 total touchdowns. Oh, and he is off to a 2-0 start after beating the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It will be interesting to see if Fitzpatrick can keep up his play throughout the season, assuming he won the starting QB job away from Winston, a former first overall pick in the NFL draft.

There are a few other teams that have come out of the gate hot to start the season, as seven teams have posted back to back wins to start the season 2-0. Some more surprising than others, as the Bengals, Dolphins and Broncos are among the teams that are off to a shockingly good start.

Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are clicking better than ever on offense in Cincinnati, and it’s the return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill from injury in Miami that has propelled the Dolphins to an unbeaten start. The signing of quarterback Case Keenum, who played for the Vikings last season, has the Broncos perfect to start the season.

Along with those three teams and the previously mentioned Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas Chiefs, the high-powered Jaguars and Rams round out the seven perfect teams through the first two weeks of the season.

Not all teams have been as fortunate as the ones mentioned above. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, who have just not looked good in any of the three phases to start off the season, have both fallen to an 0-2 start. The Raiders, Texans, Giants and Lions are the others to stand at 0-2, but perhaps none have looked as bad as the Bills and Cardinals.

The Bills were forced to turn to rookie quarterback Josh Allen in week two after an atrocious outing from quarterback Nathan Peterman in week one. The rookie looked decent under center in his first NFL start, but the result was the same in another loss, a game that was so ugly at half that CB Vontae Davis left the stadium and retired.

As for the Cardinals, the signing of quarterback Sam Bradford has been a failed experiment, as he has led the offense to just six points through the first two games of the season. Meanwhile, 10th overall pick rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has to suffer on the sidelines watching Bradford struggle. As the season goes on, you can expect the rookie quarterback to join Allen and Jets quarterback Sam Darnold as the only three starting rookie quarterbacks in the NFL.

Courtesy:Yahoo Sports 

The first two weeks have been fun to watch, and we can expect it to continue as the season goes on. It’ll be interesting to watch if the hot starts of Mahomes and Fitzpatrick can stay alive, or if the Pittsburgh Steelers can get back to what they are accustomed to: winning. Whether your team is in good standing or not, one thing is for certain– NFL football has returned to excite Sundays everywhere.

Pro Bonnies have huge opportunity at NBA Summer League

By. Isaiah Blakely

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball program will be well represented in this year’s NBA Summer League

While, the Bonnies backcourt duo of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley  went undrafted, they were signed by teams. Adams was signed by the Atlanta Hawks on a two-way deal which means he will most likely be playing a lot of his games with the Hawks’ Gatorade-League (G-League) affiliate the Erie Bayhawks. Players who sign two-way contracts can spend no more than 45 days with the NBA team that signed them to a two-way deal.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz signed Mobley to play on their summer league team. The Jazz were one of the teams to bring Mobley in during the pre-draft process for a workout which obviously went well enough to where they wanted to take a closer look at him this summer.

Both Mobley and Adams’ pro careers start this evening in Utah and will have the chance to play each other in the last game of summer league in Utah on July 5 before the Las Vegas Summer League begins on July 6.

The Denver Nuggets signed 2016 graduate, guard Marcus Posley, who was a major contributor for the Bonnies in 2015 and 2016. While Posley also went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, he was selected in the NBA Development League (Now Gatorade League) Draft with the 22nd pick of  the second round by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a Miami Heat affiliate. Posley averaged almost 10 points a game. This past season he played in Greece with Koroivos.

Additionally, former SBU forward Demetrius Conger, who graduated in 2013 was signed to play on the Boston Celtics summer league team. Conger has played in a variety of countries overseas including Italy, Greece and Australia, among others. He recently signed with Joventut Badalona in Spain. Conger and Posley play against each other on July 7 in Las Vegas. On July 8, playoffs begin.

All four Bonnies have an opportunity make an NBA team or at least potentially play with an NBA team’s G-League affiliate.

Adams has the most job security because he signed a two-way contract.

The Hawks summer league roster contains a lot of guards so it will be interesting to see how much time Adams gets this summer. But playing right away in summer league for Adams is not as important as it is for Mobley.

The Jazz have a few roster spots open and potentially have some availability at the guard position if guards Dante Exum and or Raul Neto (both restricted free agents) do not come back to the Jazz. Mobley should get some playing time potentially behind the Jazz’s first round pick Grayson Allen. Half of the Jazz’s roster are players from non-Power 5 conferences so you expect the Jazz to give all those guys including Mobley a fair shot to prove that they can either make their roster or make a good impression for another team and make their roster.

Posley has the potential to get a solid amount of playing time for the Nuggets because he is one of only three point guards on the roster. The Nuggets’ roster looks pretty solid right now but there could be a spot at the end of the bench for another point guard. In all likelihood Posley is looking to impress another team and show that he has improved since his rookie year in the G-League.

Conger presents an interesting case because he may be looking for an NBA roster spot or he’ll play another year overseas. Having signed with Joventut Badalona in March, if he doesn’t get offered an NBA contract Conger is most likely going back to Spain. For Conger, being on the Celtics summer league team means he’s trying out for other teams. There is one roster spot right now so it would take quite the performance from Conger or any of the players in summer league to make the Celtics roster. This summer league team is full of wing players and so there will probably be a lot of small-ball being played which will allow Conger to show off his versatility. Conger’s success oversees should ensure that he gets minutes to show off his skills against NBA players. The 6-foot-6 forward definitely has a shot to stick in the NBA being an athlete wing is a skillset that teams like.

 

With four players competing in summer league for NBA jobs, these are the times that serve as a reminder of how far the Bonnies program has come, and how it continues trending in the right direction.

 

Bonnies Fan Recounts Magical Season in his First Year of College

By: Jeff Uveino

It doesn’t take long to figure out how important basketball is to St. Bonaventure University.

I discovered this on my first visit to the university, when I was just a junior in high school. That visit just happened to be the day after ‘Selection Sunday’ of the 2016 NCAA basketball tournament.

After an unforgettable 2015-16 Bonnies season, where they finished 22-9 and were co-Atlantic 10 regular season champions, they were left out of the tournament following a loss in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Many felt the Bonnies had been snubbed, and they had good reason to believe it. Everyone I met during my visit brought it up. It felt as if the life had been sucked out of the school, and I hadn’t even experienced it on a normal day yet. But what I did feel was the compassion that students and faculty had toward the basketball teams. It meant everything to them.

Fast forward two years.

Now a freshman at St. Bonaventure, preseason hype over the men’s basketball team was through the roof. Seniors Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley were set to take the team to the ‘big dance’ and redeem the snub.

The team opened the season by steamrolling nearby Alfred University, a Division III team, in an exhibition at the RC. The Bonnies gave a convincing first impression of what they could accomplish in the 2017-18 season, but encountered a large problem along the way. The entire Reilly Center held its breath when Adams came up limping after driving to the basket.

Adams wouldn’t return to the game, and ended up not returning to the lineup for a lot longer than Bonnies fans would have liked.

The first month of the season without Adams was interesting to say the least. Now that the season is over and the drama of the postseason has settled, November seems like an eternity ago. But the roller coaster ride that was the non-conference schedule is part of what made this Bonnies season so special.

Start out on November 10, 2017—the Niagara game. My first Bonnies game (yes, ever). St. Bonaventure was heavy favorites over the Niagara Purple Eagles, but were simply outplayed by a team that would finish 161st in RPI. Was this team really that much worse without Jaylen Adams?

Five days later, the Bonnies were set to play the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks in the Reilly Center. Easy work, right? The Hawks would end up finishing 7-25 with an RPI of 346 (out of 351). This also happened to be my first time covering a game on press row.

This time, the problem wasn’t the team, it was the venue. A power outage in the RC caused the game to be postponed five days, and left the Bonnies sitting at 0-1 for even longer than what had already felt like a lifetime.

What a way to start the season. What a way for one’s first two trips to the Reilly Center to turn out. Evidence of how special this season was, however, is that these games are now a mere afterthought.

The rest of non-conference play—where do I start?

Courtney Stockard’s game-winning layup against Maryland. Freshman Izaiah Brockington coming out of nowhere to score 20 points against TCU. A win at the University of Buffalo (who would eventually knock the Arizona Wildcats and NBA lottery prospect DeAndre Ayton out of the NCAA tournament). Matt Mobley’s buzzer-beater three-pointer to beat Vermont. All huge moments, all in less than a month’s time.

The Bonnies were just getting started. With Adams back in the lineup and the Bonnies riding a six-game win streak, they headed to the Carrier Dome to play the Syracuse Orange. St. Bonaventure had never won at Syracuse, and their last win against them had been in 1981.

After a fierce defensive battle, the Bonnies prevailed in overtime, 60-57. Was this the key non-conference victory St. Bonaventure would need to overcome the snub of two seasons ago?

While non-conference play had brought drama, the conference schedule would bring adversity to a team that had previously been hot as could be.

After opening Atlantic 10 play with a home victory over the Massachusetts Minutemen, the Bonnies lost four of their next five games, with all the losses coming on the road. Doubt ensued. Maybe this team wasn’t NCAA tournament-caliber after all? Maybe the win over Syracuse didn’t even mean anything now?

Skip ahead another seven weeks.

That’s how long it took another team to beat St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies won their final 12 Atlantic 10 games, finishing 14-4 in conference play. Talk about turning your season around.

They wouldn’t have gotten there, of course, without several key performances that contribute to the remarkableness of this season.

Who could forget the night Jaylen Adams hit 10 threes and scored 44 points against Saint Louis? Or how about the triple overtime game vs Davidson, with a final score of 117-113? Even these epic games probably take a back seat to the night the Rhode Island Rams came to town.

Rhode Island was ranked No. 16 in the nation, ESPN was in town, and it was Friday night at St. Bonaventure University. People were excited.

In what was the loudest sporting event I have attended in my life, the Bonnies prevailed over the Rams, 77-74. Bedlam commenced when the buzzer sounded, and the whited-out Reilly Center crowd spilled out onto the court. It was the type of sports moment you dream about.

After finishing out their A 10 schedule, the Bonnies would head to Washington, DC for the conference tournament seeded No. 2.

The streets of the nation’s capital were filled with Bonnies fans, even more so than I had expected. Walking around with any St. Bonaventure gear on meant you were subject to a “Go Bonas!” On just about every block.

After defeating the No. 7 seeded Richmond Spiders in the quarterfinals, St. Bonaventure was set for a rematch of their triple-overtime contest (just eleven days before) with the Davidson Wildcats. This time, Davidson’s hot shooting proved to be too much for the Bonnies, and they were eliminated in the semifinals. Now, in order to redeem the snub, they needed some help from the selection committee.

Any die-hard Bonnies basketball fan can tell you where they were when St. Bonaventure’s name was selected for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. At a gas station near Altoona, Pennsylvania, I struggled to find cell phone service to stream the selection show. Meanwhile, nearly the entire student body erupted in the RC when the Bonnies logo showed up on the scoreboard.

The Bonnies were in. No snub.

The pain of 2016 could finally be forgotten, and for the first time since 2012, the Bonnies were dancing.

However, in what some felt was a disservice to the team, St. Bonaventure was sent to Dayton for the ‘First Four’ round. They would play the UCLA Bruins, one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.

On that Tuesday night, just two days after Selection Sunday, the University of Dayton Arena sounded like the Reilly Center. The Bonnies prevailed, 65-58, for their first NCAA tournament win since 1970.

Now they had to travel to Dallas, and in just two days play the No. 6 seeded Florida Gators.

Blame it on the excessive travel, blame it on fatigue, blame it on cold shooting; the Bonnies got run over by the Gators.

After a 77-62 loss in a game that felt even more lopsided than that, one of the most historic runs in program history was over. St. Bonaventure finished 26-8.

26 wins was the most ever in a single season in program history. This included 8 and 13 game win streaks, and a 14-1 record at home. The only loss at the RC was to Niagara (go figure).

When looking back on this season, many people will remember the NCAA tournament games, or even just the fact that the Bonnies made it into the tournament.

But to me, it’s how they got there that makes the run so special. So many moments, big moments, that will be forgotten. After all, I didn’t even mention games such as the homecoming sellout win over Richmond, or Jaylen Adams’ game-winner in a 40-point performance at Duquesne.

However, this team will not be forgotten.

Neither will this senior class. Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley, and Idris Taqqee are the winning-est graduating class in St. Bonaventure history.

The Bonnies will have a brand-new look next year, and we have nearly eight months to debate about where the team will go from here. But for now, let’s appreciate all this year’s team gave to the school and the fans.

They gave me a freshman year I’ll never forget.

Dream season for Bonnies ends against Gators

By Josh Svetz

It’s cliche, but there’s one saying that encapsulates the end of the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament run.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies couldn’t handle the defensive tenacity of the Florida Gators losing 77-62 Thursday night at Dallas, Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Neither team could pull away in the first half each taking turns stalling on offense. St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams had a hard time staying out of foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the first half.

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Both teams struggled shooting in the first half. The Bonnies shot 6-23 from the field and the Gators shot 9-31. The Bonnies went on a 10-0 run until the 4:28 mark, capitalizing on points from the foul line as the shots would not drop. The Bonnies secured a lead late into the first half at the 3:05 mark 22-21.

Unfortunately for them; it would be their last.

The Gators scored a quick bucket and the Bonnies struggled to keep up with the energy of the Gators. Still, the game was close with the Bonnies in striking distance at the half, 22-27.

But fatigue started to set in. Four games in seven days can take the wind out of any team, especially a short rotation like the Bonnies.

Adams admitted in the press conference that the grind of the season wore him down.

“I’m not one to make excuses, but you could tell we were gassed,” Adams said. “We weren’t used to that many games in that many days. But I think you have to credit Florida’s defense more than anything.”

The Gators came out in the 2nd half blazing on a 7-0 run.

The Bonnies couldn’t buy a bucket, but forced themselves to the free throw line.

The dynamic duo of Adams and Matt Mobley struggled to find openings, combining for just 21 points, a total that on an average night either guy usually surpasses.

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Florida guard Chris Chiozza said the game plan was to focus on the Bonnies’ offensive juggernauts,

“Those are two great guards,” Chiozza said. “We just wanted to make it tough for them to score. We played hard the whole way and were able to keep them from doing what they usually do.”

The Bonnies kept the game in reach, struggling for every point scored.

Then, the wheels came off the Bona Bandwagon. The Gators rained three pointers down as the Bonnies continued to struggle. They went 3-19 from behind the arc.

The Bonnies didn’t ever give up, but the energy just wasn’t there. The culmination of short games, quick travel turnarounds and the emotional drain of winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1970 got to them.

Head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the fatigue factor after the game.

“We were on a high,” Schmidt said. “I think you can fight through it for a couple days, just with adrenaline. But, when you get down by 15, that adrenaline rush goes out the window.”

Plus; Florida was just better.

Yet, even as the Bonnies continued to fall behind and the game was out of reach, the fans made sure to show their appreciation. With a minute to go the Bona faithful cheered loud with a final “let’s go Bona’s” and gave the team a standing ovation filled with claps, hollers and stomps.

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The Gators ended the Bonnies dream NCAA Tournament run, 77-62.

One player coach Schmidt made sure to give his due was Idris Taqqee.

Taqqee is not known as the primary scorer. He sometimes misses layups that make you tear your hair out and you always hold your breath when he goes to the line.

But when it came to heart; no one matched Taqqee. Every rebound, every tipped ball, every loose ball, Taqqee went for it. Even as a guard, he grabbed 13 rebounds and coach Schmidt had nothing but praise for the senior.

“That sucker wasn’t going to quit,” Schmidt said. “He’s one of the top five most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t have great skill, but he epitomizes the toughness that we try to play with. Matt and Jay get a lot of the credit, and deservedly so, but without Idris in that — he’s the glue that brings us together.”

As the team exited the locker room to catch the red eye home it was all love.

They thanked the managers, coaches and even the student journalists that had gone on this ride with them.

Their head’s were high, as they should be.

Looking back on a historic season for the Bonnies, the best in the modern era, coach Schmidt closed the night talking about what this means for St. Bonaventure University as a whole.

“We got the respect of the country now,” Schmidt said. “It’s taken a while to get that. It’s hard to put in words, especially coming off a loss, but we did some incredible things. The guys are going to look back years from now and think ‘wow.’ This team is going to be remembered forever.”

 

 

 

 

Preview: Bonnies take on Gators in NCAA Tournament

By Jeff Uveino

It’s one of the most anticipated days of the year for college hoops fans—the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament.

With 16 games scheduled for today, the eyes of the sporting world will once again be on college basketball. However, for fans of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies; only one game really matters.

The No. 11 Bonnies (25-7) will take on the No. 6 Florida Gators (20-12) at 9:55 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament on truTV.

The Bonnies are coming off a 65-58 win over the UCLA Bruins in the ‘First Four’ round in Dayton, Ohio. Now, the Bonnies get to travel to Dallas, Texas to take on a Gators team that went 11-7 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. Despite winning their final three regular season games, the Gators were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament by the Arkansas Razorbacks. Florida owns several wins over other tournament teams this season, including Gonzaga, Auburn, and two wins against Kentucky

The Gators have enjoyed recent tournament success, including trips to at least the Elite Eight in five straight seasons. In the 2017 NCAA tournament, Florida lost a heart breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks, denying them a trip to the Final Four.

The Gators have scorers up and down their roster, averaging 76 points per game. They are led by junior guard Jalen Hudson, who averages 15.3 points per game. Egor Koulechov, a senior guard from Russia, averages 13.6 points per game. Other key contributors are guards KeVaugh Allen and Chris Chiozza, who average 13.6 and 13.5 points, respectively. Chiozza also averages 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, making him a central part of the Gators offense.

While the sunshine of Gainesville, Florida is far from the snow covered tundras of Allegany, New York; the Bonnies and Gators aren’t strangers.

Just last year, the Bonnies and Gators met at Florida in a close and competitive game resulting in a 73-66 loss.

Senior Idris Taqqee remembers the game against the Gators last year. Now, with a better team and a chance to see them on a neutral court, Taqqee said the Bonnies are ready for another shot against them.

“It’s already a rematch so we want to get that revenge,” Taqqee said. ” We want this. We’re hungry.”

Part of the path to getting that revenge is showing up defensively. The Bonnies used a stymieing zone defensive scheme to slow down the Bruins last game as they try for similar results against the Gators.  The Bonnies forced 20 UCLA turnovers, including 10 by their star guard Aaron Holiday.

Another key to the Bonnies’ First Four win was the play of Courtney Stockard, who scored 26 points. Stockard, a junior forward, is the X-factor in a Bonnies attack that features two high-scoring senior guards; Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.

Adams averages 19.4 points and 5.3 assists per game, and Mobley averages 18.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Bonnies shoot nearly 40% from three point range, and their shooting will be a key as to whether they will be able to pull off an upset.
The winner of this game will play either Texas Tech or Stephen F. Austin on Saturday with a trip to the ‘Sweet 16’ at stake.

Junior LaDarien Griffin, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, knows the Gators pretty well. He grew up watching them and even played AAU with Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes.

He couldn’t hold back his excitement when asked about getting a second chance to beat the Gators.

“I used to watch those great teams that they had in awe.” Griffin said. “You grow up and it’s always the goal to beat those type of teams and now we get that chance. I can’t wait man, I can’t wait to play them!”