Saint Louis second half comeback clinches A-10 title

By: Isaiah Blakely 

With 3:04 left in the first half the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (18-16) were up 34-19 and had a 91.8 percent chance to win and book their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

But Saint Louis (23-12) didn’t give up.

The comeback started when the Billikens ended the first half strong by cutting the lead down to nine because of a Jordan Goodwin three pointer.

The second half completely flipped in St. Louis’s favor.The Billikens outscored the Bonnies 30-19 in the second half.

Saint Louis started out on a 7-0 run. The Billikens stymied the Bonnies offense in the second half. The Bonnies shot 26 percent in the second half and had multiple long scoring droughts including a six-minute drought in the middle of the half.

Goodwin was the catalyst for the Billikens scoring 16 points and had 13 rebounds including six offensive rebounds.

Courtney Stockard was keeping the Bonnies in it by scoring 10 of the final 12 points for the Bonnies, but he fouled out with a less than a minute to go in the game.

The Billikens down the stretch went on a 12-2 run to take a six-point lead with 1:30 left. Missed free throws and a turnover gave the Bonnies the ball back down two with 45 seconds left.

The Bonnies had three chances to tie or win the game, but shots from Dom Welch, Kyle Lofton, and Nelson Kaputo all missed, and the Billikens came away with the 55-53 victory in the Atlantic 10 championship and now have an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

“We had three opportunities that we missed, but they were good shots…that’s the way it goes. Some jump shots just don’t go in, Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said.

The Bonnies freshmen struggled to score. Lofton, Welch and Osunniyi combined for 13 points.

Stockard ended his Bonaventure career with 22 points and five rebounds. LaDarien Griffin was the only other player in double figures. Griffin finished with a double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds.

A-10 tournament’s most valuable player Tremaine Isabel had nine points and five assists.

Lofton joined Isabel on the A-10 tournament all conference team alongside Isabel’s teammate Javon Bess, VCU’s Marcos Santos-Silva and Rhode Island’s Cyril Langevine.

 

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Second half run pushes the Bonnies past Rhode Island

By:Isaiah Blakely 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies had a slow start offensively again in the Barclays Center, this time in the semifinals against the Rhode Island Rams.

The Bonnies picked it up on both ends of the floor late in the first half. The momentum and confidence carried through the rest of the game as the Bonnies (18-15) defeated the Rams (18-15) 68-51 to move on to the Atlantic 10 tournament final tomorrow afternoon.

The Rams came out fast early on holding a 22-12 lead with nine minutes left in the first half. Rhode Island guards Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell scored a combined 18 points on 8-29 shooting. Seven of their points were scored early in the first half. Junior Cyril Langevine lead the Rams in scoring with 15 points.

Rhode Island’s defense was also giving the Bonnies fits early. The Bonnies were shooting 3-14 halfway through the first half.

The Rams took a 15-point lead after a Tyrese Martin three pointer with four minutes left in the half.

Then the Bonnies made their run.

The Bonnies went on a 13-0 run led by Bonaventure’s freshmen Dominick Welch and Kyle Lofton.

Welch helped keep the Bonnies afloat in the first half scoring 10 of his 13 points in the first half.

Lofton was good all afternoon scoring 23 points and adding five assists.

“The freshmen don’t play like freshmen. Kyle (Lofton) in my opinion was the best guy on the court,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said.

The Bonnies went into the locker room down 29-27. Second half was more of the same for the Bonnies.

The Bonnies outscored Rhode Island 41-22 in the second half.

The Bonnies offense also got some help from their big men. LaDarien Griffin and Osun Osunniyi combined for 5 points in the first half. Second half the duo combined for 19 points. The senior Griffin had 13 points and six rebounds while the freshman Osunniyi had a double-double 10 points 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Senior Courtney Stockard struggled from field only shooting 1-11 but free throws from him, Griffin and Lofton helped put the game away. The Bonnies as a team shot 16-17 from the line.

Along with the almost perfect free throw shooting from the Bonnies, the Rams went seven and a half minutes without a field goal. During that period the Bonnies went on a 20-3 run that gave them a 21-point lead.

The Bonnies calling card continues to be defense as they move to 15-0 when holding opponents to under 60 points. The Bonnies have also held 10 straight opponents to under 40 percent shooting.

“It’s the best defensive team we’ve had since I’ve been the coach,” Schmidt said. “It’s a mindset. We’re not a great offensive team. We haven’t been a great offensive team all year, but the kids are figuring it out that in order for us to win we’ve got to defend.”

The Bonnies face off against the winner of Saint Louis and Davidson for the Atlantic 10 tournament title and a ticket to the NCAA tournament tomorrow at 1:00.

 

 

PC: GoBonnies.com

Lofton’s game-winning jumper propels Bonnies over La Salle

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

Kyle Lofton did it again. 

The St. Bonaventure guard hit a go-ahead jumper with three seconds remaining and the Bonnies defeated the La Salle Explorers Wednesday night, 62-60. 

Lofton, a freshman, got the ball to start a Bonnies possession with 10.7 seconds left and the score tied. He dribbled to his right, drove to his left and pulled up from the free throw line to send the Reilly Center crowd into a frenzy. 

“It was on me to take the last shot,” said Lofton. “Coach trusts me and gives me room to make errors, so that makes me more comfortable. I was confident and I hit it.” 

Lofton finished the game with 18 points. 

Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said he has been impressed with Lofton’s shot-making ability all season and that the freshman plays beyond his years. 

“I trust him, he plays 40 minutes a game,” said Schmidt. “He hits big shots and he doesn’t play like a freshman. Out of the timeout, I can put the ball in his hands and know that, for the most part, he’s going to make the right play.” 

The game was close the whole way, with SBU leading by four points at halftime. The Explorers came out of the gates strong in the second half, but an and-one dunk from SBU forward Osun Osunniyi followed by a technical on LaSalle gave the Bonnies momentum. They proceeded to go on a 13-3 run. 

The Bonnies led by as many as 11 points in the second half (50-41), but La Salle’s shooting got them back into the game late. 

The Explorers hit ten three-pointers on the night, as opposed to just three from the Bonnies. 

La Salle appeared as if it would get the last possession of the game, but guard Isiah Deas slipped on a drive and turned the ball over, giving Lofton his chance. 

Schmidt talked about SBU’s defensive performance and its struggles that kept La Salle in the game. 

“I always say, if you defend, rebound, take care of the ball and make your foul shots, you’ll do well,” he said. “We only did two of those things tonight. In the last couple games, we took care of the ball and made our free throws, and that’s why we won by a larger margin. We didn’t do those things tonight, which kept it close.” 

Courtney Stockard scored 16 points and dished out seven assists for the Bonnies. Osunniyi had another big night on the glass with 13 rebounds, nine points and five blocks. 

“Defense has always been the main focus of my game,” said Osunniyi. “We feed off the crowd and want to get them in the game early, so if I can block some shots it gets them involved and helps my teammates on the offensive end.”  

La Salle was led by Pookie Powell, who scored 20 points and knocked down four three-pointers. Deas added 16 points. 

Explorers guard Saul Phiri scored 10 points and hit a big three with a minute left to tie the game at 60 before the Lofton magic. 

St. Bonaventure improved to 12-14 overall and 8-5 in the Atlantic 10, and La Salle fell to 8-17 overall and 6-7 in the A10. 

The Bonnies have now won three games in a row and six of their last eight. 

“It wasn’t a masterpiece offensively, but we gutted it out,” said Schmidt. “It was a blue-collar win.”

Hatred of losing drives Ayeni

By Justin Myers

For sophomore Josh Ayeni, being a better player for his team and himself was a major point of emphasis going into the season.

“(I’m focused on) just being the best player that I can be and doing my best for the team, so we can win games,” Ayeni said.

The 6-foot-8 forward is looking to build off his strong freshman campaign where he earned 24 starts and played in all 32 games. He finished sixth on the team in scoring with 6.7 points per game and averaged 2.6 rebounds.

He also scored in double figures 10 times, the most by a Bonaventure freshman in Atlantic-10 play since Andrew Nicholson’s 21 times in 2008-09.

During the off-season Ayeni worked on many things to improve his game.

“I worked on my three-point shot, consistency and just being a better rebounder” he said.

As a freshman, Ayeni worked hard to adjust to the fast pace of Division I basketball.

“I think it’s the pace of going up and down the court,” Ayeni said. “High school ball is slower and college ball is faster and more technical”.

However, one thing Ayeni didn’t have to adjust was his passion.

“I hate to lose,” he said. “I feel like that drives me to play harder every time and try to win”.

Ayeni, a native of Nigeria, grew up in a different environment compared to the United States.

“Obviously the weather is hotter than Olean,” he said. “In Nigeria, when you’re learning to play basketball they only teach big guys how to play basketball. You have to be really tall to play basketball. But in (the United States) you see little kids of all sizes learning to play.”

Ayeni came to the United States in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since.

“There’s some great people here,” Ayeni said. “it’s a great place to be.”

Men’s basketball: The A-10 needs to go get Wichita State

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

If you had a dollar for every time you’ve seen or heard that the Atlantic 10 is having a down year, how many schools’ season tickets would you be able to afford?

Three notable upsets have occurred in the league over the last two nights: UMass defeated Dayton by 12 and Fordham won at Davidson by six on Wednesday before visiting La Salle stunned Rhode Island, which was previously unbeaten at home, by 12 on Thursday.

To some, these results are a sign of parity and intrigue in conference play. To others, the Dayton and Rhode Island losses in particular are a troubling sign of how inconsistent even the top teams in the league are this season.

There’s one way to strengthen the A-10 going forward when 2016-17 concludes: get Wichita State, which has been considering leaving the Missouri Valley Conference, to join this offseason.

The first mutual benefit to the Shockers becoming the conference’s 15th full member is March Madness. It’s still January, but Dayton, VCU and Rhode Island are the three A-10 teams currently in Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Bracketology, according to his latest posting yesterday. Wichita State (15-3, 5-0 in conference) is the only Missouri Valley Conference team that cracked Lunardi’s field of 68.

WSU wouldn’t breeze through the A-10 like it does in the Missouri Valley, but power conference wins over LSU and Oklahoma, as well as close losses to Louisville and Michigan State would likely put it on the bracket in any situation. The A-10 could be on track for four bids right now, and four teams would put it on par with the Pac-12 and SEC. The critics wouldn’t be lamenting the direction the league was going this year, constantly asserting that it could be a “one-bid league,” which is the college basketball equivalent of getting a 200 on the SAT for just signing your name.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: The A-10 needs to go get Wichita State”

Women’s basketball: SBU falls to VCU in A-10 quarterfinals

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Katie Faulkner

In a matchup where the idea of a neutral site did not apply, “Let’s go Rams” chants echoed through the Richmond Coliseum. After receiving a bye and moving straight to the quarterfinals, St. Bonaventure was unable to avenge last month’s loss to VCU, as the Rams stole the win, 59-50.

After a shaky first half plagued with turnovers, the Bonnies found themselves down 29-15. 14 first-half turnovers by SBU allowed the Rams more scoring opportunities, where they dominated under the hoop for 34 points in the paint. Though VCU had its share of turnovers as well, the Bonnies could not take advantage on the offensive end due to poor shooting.

“Their defensive pace was above our offensive pace,” said SBU coach Jim Crowley. “I think we were hurrying the shots we had and not shooting them with the rhythm we’re capable of.”

The Bonnies shot an uncharacteristic 29 percent (18-of-61) from the field, including going 5-for-29 from long range. Sophomore Miranda Drummond registered a game-high 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. Graduate student Emily Michael chipped in with 12 points, while Mariah Ruff added 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Senior Katie Healy notched seven points in just 23 minutes of action due to foul trouble. Matea Britvar provided big minutes off the bench and totaled a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two blocks.

The Bonnies opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but Healy was forced to sit after picking up her third foul. SBU was able to cut the VCU lead to 46-43 in the fourth quarter, but the Bonnies could not capitalize on the offensive end.

“I thought when we had fought and gave ourselves a really good chance, we kept thinking we had to make it all up in one shot,” said Crowley. “I think we got in our own way a little bit with frustration on missing some open shots.”

Nine players put points on the board for VCU, a team that relies heavily on constant substitutions. The Rams credit their quick rotations as the key factor to maintaining a high level of intensity on the defensive end.

“[Defense] is our calling card,” said VCU coach Beth O’Boyle. “We really take pride in it and emphasize it and I’m lucky that our players have bought [into the idea] that defense wins championships.”

The hockey-style subbing not only helped fuel 22 bench points, but also took advantage of the Bonnies’ lack of depth.

“We thought our depth was really going to be a factor and that we were going to try and push the tempo,” said O’Boyle. “We had to get the ball over halfcourt as fast as we could to make them run and chase us on the offensive side, so that when they came back down on offense it was tiring them out.”

Junior Ashley Pegram was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Adaeze Alaeze’s six points put her over the 1,000 career-point mark. The senior also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Juniors Keira Robinson and Isis Thorpe notched nine points apiece for the Rams.

The Bonnies will wait to hear about a potential postseason bid.

Atlantic 10 comments on Bona seating change

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10 has weighed in on the new courtside seats St. Bonaventure is putting in the Reilly Center.

The controversy over putting seats in front of the Bona student section died down after athletic director Tim Kenney explained the move’s safety implications, but there was still some confusion over the conference’s silence in the matter.

When reached for comment this week, A-10 Assistant Commissioner Drew Dickerson said the decision was St. Bonaventure’s and was not forced by the conference.

“The conference discusses student-athlete, staff and fan safety/sportsmanship annually at every business meeting; this includes in-arena and on-campus field facilities,” Dickerson said. “Each member institution decides how best to manage their own facilities with respect to seating, safety and security.

“SBU’s new in-arena seating plan should not be confused with the conference’s commitment to safety (and) sportsmanship as this not a new topic, and it will continue to be an important discussion for the conference.”

Dickerson’s comments make it clear that there was no order that SBU add these seats. Rather, Bona felt this was the best way to manage the Reilly Center with respect to “seating, safety and security.” For Kenney and his staff, it was a peaceful resolution to avoid discipline down the road, as the conference seems to have been patient with the “Reilly Rowdies” for quite some time.

Men’s basketball: Richmond (Away) Preview

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After a tough loss to Dayton on Thursday night, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies hope to regroup against the Richmond Spiders on Sunday at 3 in the Robins Center.

Both teams are 1-1 in Atlantic 10 play. The Spiders, who come into this one at 8-7 overall, lost by 14 at Davidson last Saturday before defeating George Mason 75-65 at home Thursday night.

The Bonnies and Spiders split their home-and-home last year. SBU won by double-digits at home, but lost a two-point heartbreak in Richmond’s house.

Who will win the 19th meeting between these schools? Here’s the breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 115-114 as Bonnies coach, 3-7 against Richmond.

Richmond- Chris Mooney. 174-139 as Spiders coach, 9-5 against Bonaventure.

Key players for Richmond:

Kendall Anthony- 5-8 senior guard. Anthony is one of the smallest point guards in Division I, but he’s also one of the best. At just 5-8, 140 pounds, he’s not an intimidating presence, but his quickness and athleticism make him a special ballplayer. He has scored 15.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the floor, with a 37 percent mark from three. Since Cedrick Lindsay graduated last spring, Anthony shouldered the lead scoring responsibilities and has done a fantastic job. He had 28 in the win over the Bonnies last season, including the game-winning jumper with five seconds on the clock. The Spiders go as Anthony goes.

Terry Allen- 6-8 junior forward. Allen will have to use his all-around repertoire against the Bona big men. He leads Richmond in rebounding at 5.5 boards per game and is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game on 51.2 percent shooting. He gets the job done on both sides of the floor and has been on a hot streak lately, with double-digit points in the last three games.

Alonzo Nelson-Ododa- 6-9 junior forward. Ododa is the defensive-minded big man of this Spider team, with 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game to go with 6.1 points a contest. He struggled mightily against Bona last year, going 3-16 from the floor over those two games. The matchup with Youssou Ndoye is going to be a real challenge for him, and his performance may be the difference between a win and a loss.

Keys to victory for Richmond: The Spiders are not going to win this contest if they lose the rebounding battle the way they have in nearly every game this season. They are the fifth-worst rebounding team in the nation, while Bonaventure is 46th-best behind Youssou Ndoye, a top-five rebounder in the country. Being better on the glass is top priority. If they aren’t, the gameplan is simple: shoot lights-out from behind the arc like every successful team has against the Bonnies. That’s your only hope if you don’t rebound the basketball.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: You don’t need Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas to tell you what the Bonnies need to fix right now; perimeter defense is an obvious Achilles’ heel. Dayton, who came in to Thursday’s game shooting a pedestrian 33 percent from three, went 14-24 from behind the arc against the Bonnies. They looked like the San Antonio Spurs, passing the ball around the perimeter and taking advantage of Bonaventure’s slow defensive rotation to bury open shots. If the Bonnies are going to win on Sunday, they cannot allow the Spiders to have the same three-point shootout. Richmond is shooting at a 32 percent clip from outside, but Anthony, T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones are legitimate threats. Clamping down on them by rotating quickly is vital to victory.

Prediction: Predicting a Bonaventure basketball game has become an unenviable and unpredictable task. On paper, the Bonnies should win this game. The rebounding advantage is squarely in their favor, and Richmond has not had an impressive win yet. Bonaventure also showed they can bounce back from a loss in a road environment when they beat UMass, and I think they bounce back again. It won’t be easy on the road (it almost never is), but SBU will get back on track. 77-72 Bonnies