Bona fans– Don’t think what it could have been. Think what it can be

photos courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

BROOKLYN– It looked like a story book ending.

But it ended in a way that broke the hearts of the thousands of Bonnies fans that traveled to Brooklyn over the weekend.

When the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s 2018-19 season came to an end Sunday afternoon, it left an opportunity on the table that could have only been dreamed about at the beginning of the year.

The Bonnies fell to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 championship game, and the college careers of Courtney Stockard, LaDarien Griffin and Nelson Kaputo came to an end.

St. Bonaventure entered the tournament as the fourth seed, but once Sunday came around, it looked like everything they needed to happen to win the tournament came true.

 

The top three seeds in the tournament (VCU, Davidson, Dayton) had all been knocked out, and the Bonnies awaited a Saint Louis team in the final that they had beaten eight days before.

 

But when the final buzzer sounded, it brought sorrow instead of joy for Bonnies fans.

Bona was so close, so close, to making an an improbable run to the NCAA tournament. It would have been the first time the program had ever went to the tournament in back-to-back years and a remarkable end to the careers of three seniors that have been through a lot over the past four seasons at SBU.

But for many Bonnies fans, it became the game, the championship and the tournament run that could have been.

 

Sure, it’s easy to look back at the past and think what could have resulted if a bounce or two could have gone Bona’s way. It’s also easy to look at the turnaround that this team had, after starting the season 4-10 and then coming within seven minutes of an A10 championship.

But at the culmination of this season, what Bonnies fans should really be excited is the year to come– and probably the next three.

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Bonnies center Osun Osunniyi during their win over Rhode Island

The team started three freshmen (when they were healthy) for the majority of the season. Kyle Lofton, Dom Welch and Osun Osunniyi averaged a combined 30 points and 14.4 rebounds per game during the regular season. The trio also scored 35.3 points per game and pulled down 18 rebounds per game during the A10 tournament.

 

Under a coach that is notorious for giving freshmen time to develop before he gives them significant playing time, it is remarkable what this year’s freshman class did.

Lofton and Osunniyi, prep school teammates, each blossomed into impact players in the Atlantic 10 over the course of the year. Both were named to the conference’s All-Rookie team, and Osunniyi was also named to its All-Defensive team.

For his play over the weekend, Lofton was named to the A10 All-Tournament team.

Welch, who missed nine games in the regular season with an injury, took longer to come around than the other two.

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Bonnies guard Dom Welch after hitting a three against George Mason

But the Buffalo native showed his potential in Brooklyn. Welch shot 6-12 from beyond the arc and scored 20 a career-high points in Bona’s quarterfinal win over George Mason, and followed it up with a 13-point performance the next day against Rhode Island.

 

What impressed me the most from Welch over the weekend was his defensive awareness. He was all over the court, and his defensive play, along with his offense, showed that he was finally ready to play at the level Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt had hoped he could.

“The future is bright,” said Schmidt after the loss to Saint Louis. “We’ve got to bring in some more guys, but they are a talented group that is going to continue to get better.”

Schmidt has already landed several players who could fill the roles the seniors left, including Bobby Planutis, a transfer from Mt. St. Mary’s who had to sit out this season, and Justin Winston, a three-star recruit from the same prep school that Lofton and Osunniyi came from (Putnam Science Academy).

Those players and the other returners will have 25-point-per-game shoes to fill that Stockard and Griffin will take with them when they graduate.

Sounds tough, but Bona was put in the same situation this year after they lost Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley’s combined 37.2 points per game.

Maybe I’m just trying to be positive.

But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Bonnies have a special trio of freshmen on their hands who have big-game experience after playing into Sunday of the A10 tournament. That experience will go a long way in future years if they can find themselves in the same spot.

The 2019 Bonnies came close. But this tournament run, which was almost one for the ages, could be just the beginning of what this young group can accomplish.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. In the final press conference of his career, Griffin showed his enthusiasm for the future of the Bona program.

“Those guys are gonna use this season as motivation and as long as they stay together they’re going to be really special,” said Griffin.

“They’re going to be really, really good.”

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Bonnies defense leads the way to fifth straight win

photo courtesy of gobonnies@sbu.edu

By Isaiah Blakely

The all-time season series between the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the Duquesne Dukes was 60-60 coming into Wednesday night in the Reilly Center. The Bonnies had won five of the last six meetings with the Dukes by six points or less.

But this night was a different story for St. Bonaventure (14-14, 10-5 A-10) which clinched its 10 win in Atlantic 10 play for a program record fifth season in a row beating the Dukes (18-10, 9-5 A-10) 68-47.

The Bonnies defense led the way once again only allowing one Dukes player to score in double figures. Two of Bonaventure’s seniors led the way. Courtney Stockard led all scorers with 21 points and LaDarien Griffin had his second double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Stockard got Bonaventure rolling, scoring six early points to help the Bonnies jump out to a 19-7 lead. That early run was capped off by freshman Osun Osunniyi’s two-handed slam. The Bonnies had four scorers in double figures including Osunniyi who had 10 points and added nine rebounds and three blocks. Freshman guard Kyle Lofton also scored 10 points and had six assists.

St. Bonaventure’s biggest lead in the first half was 17, but Duquesne it strong including a layup right before half by freshman Lamar Norman Jr., to cut the Bonnies halftime lead to 33-22. Norman Jr. was the Dukes only scorer in double figures, he had 20 points.

The Bonnies started the second half fast with an 8-0 run to go up 19.

Stockard sealed the win in the final minutes with a three pointer from the wing and a reverse jam on the fast break to put the Bonnies up 20.

Duquesne only shot 28 percent from the field and head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the defensive performance.

“It was as good of a defensive performance as we’ve had all year,” Schmidt said. “If someone would’ve told me that we would’ve held them to 47 points, I would have told them they were crazy.”

The Bonnies have held six of their last seven opponents to 60 points or less are 12-0 this season in those games.

The Bonnies now have a .500 record for the first time since they were 1-1 after their win over Jackson State in November.

The Bonnies are looking to get over .500 for the first time all year on Saturday at George Washington

Schmidt becomes all-time leader with Bona win over George Mason

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team defeated George Mason, 79-56, on Sunday afternoon at the Reilly Center– and after the final buzzer sounded, you couldn’t find a face in the RC without a smile.

The win was the 203rd of head coach Mark Schmidt’s career at Bonaventure. That number breaks Larry Weise’s career record for coaching wins at the school, which had stood for 46 years.

The afternoon was capped off by a tear-jerking postgame video tribute.

Congratulatory messages from former Bonnies star Andrew Nicholson, Bona alumnus and top ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, Larry Weise himself and more were followed by a nostalgic trip through some of Schmidt’s most notable wins.

The milestone victory comes 12 years after Schmidt took over the Bonaventure program.

“When you make family decisions like we did, you just never know if you’re making the right decision or not,” said Schmidt. “But I feel comfortable here. The people here have taken us in and made us feel welcomed, and it feels like home.”

Lost in the Schmidt hype was one of the best performances the Bonnies have turned in this season, and another stellar game by a freshman guard.

Kyle Lofton scored a career-high 32 points and shot 7-8 from behind the three-point line. He also dished out seven assists.

Lofton banked home his first three-pointer of the game, and after that, he caught on fire.

“When you see the ball go in, the hoop gets bigger,” said Lofton. “I’ve stayed confident and put bad games behind me. I’ve been in the gym mornings and nights getting reps up which makes me confident.”

Lofton scored 18 of his points in a first half that saw the Bonnies play inspired and jump out to a 17-point lead at the break (42-25).

SBU led 16-0 after the first media timeout, and Lofton had 11 points. He played the entire game until Schmidt emptied out his bench with a minute to go.

“Kyle couldn’t have played better,” said Schmidt. “Hitting those early shots relaxes you, allows you to play more free and gives you energy on the defensive end.”

The Patriots knocked down some shots midway through the second half to get back into the game, pulling the deficit to as little as 10 points. They were unable, however, to shoot consistently enough to overcome the first-half hole.

GMU was without senior guard Otis Livingston II for a good portion of the game, as he would only play 20 minutes while dealing with an injury.

Justin Kier stepped up for the Patriots, leading them with 21 points. Livingston II would finish with 10 points, and Javone Greene also scored 10. 

For St. Bonaventure, Courtney Stockard added 17 points and Osun Osunniyi turned in another superb defensive effort with 11 rebounds and five blocks. Dom Welch chipped in with 10 points.

The Bonnies improved to 11-14 overall and 7-5 in the Atlantic 10. George Mason fell to 15-11 and 9-4 in the A10.

SBU has now won five of its last seven games, and will next face La Salle at home on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The Bonnies continue to climb in the A10 standings, and now sit just one game out of fourth place.

“We want to get into the top four and get the bye until the quarterfinals,” said Schmidt. “Can you win the tournament playing four games? Yeah, but it’s easier to do it in three.”

In a season that has featured less success than Bonnies fans have recently been accustomed to, Sunday’s game and what the win meant to Schmidt and the program gave them a lot to be thankful for.

“I love it here,” said Schmidt. “And hopefully I’m here for a lot more years.”

Stockard returns in Bonnies win over Canisius

By: Jeff Uveino 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeated the Canisius Griffins, 70-55, Wednesday night at the Reilly Center.

After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Bonnies used a 16-1 run late in the first half to pull away from the Griffins.

SBU had four players reach double-digit scoring, but the most significant contribution came with the return of senior forward Courtney Stockard.

Stockard, a preseason all-conference selection, made his season debut after missing six games due to offseason surgery.

After checking in during the under-12-minute media timeout in the first half, Stockard missed a three-point jumper and committed an offensive foul before finding his groove.

Then, with 7:47 remaining in the first half, he briefly took over the game.

Stockard completed a three-point play on the offensive end, then banged home a three-point jumper on the next Bonnies possession.

He then stole a Takal Molson pass and took the ball down the floor for a fast break layup—and the foul. He completed another three-point play on the ensuing possession, giving him 9 points in a mere 51 seconds of clock time.

“I wanted to take my time and let the game come to me,” Stockard said. “It’s been about six months since I’ve been in a real game, so I expected to be a little rusty coming back. But getting back in a game like this and helping the team to a win is big for us.”

Stockard finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Freshman forward Osun Osunniyi also had a big night for the Bonnies, scoring 12 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He also had four blocks on the night.

“We knew we had to come together and play harder than Canisius,” said Osunniyi. “It wasn’t a perfect game, but we did what we had to do to get the win.”

Osunniyi played 28 minutes off the bench for the Bonnies, including 17 in the second half. Coach Mark Schmidt talked about how Osunniyi’s play around the basket can be a game changer for St. Bonaventure.

“Good offenses always go from inside out,” said Schmidt, “and when (Osunniyi) can get baskets in the paint it really helps the offense. If we can have Osun do what he did today on a consistent basis, it helps some of our other guys feed the post and shrink the defense.”

For Canisius, senior guard Jonathan Sanks led the way with 12 points and sophomore guard Takal Molson scored 10 points.

Junior guard Malik Johnson had nine points and eight rebounds, and led the Griffins with nearly 36 minutes on the court.

Other Bonnies scoring in double figures were freshman guard Kyle Lofton with 13 points and senior guard Nelson Kaputo with 12 points.

Coach Schmidt said he was impressed by his team’s effort.

“We did a good job defending the three, we out-rebounded them by 10 and we handled the ball well for the most part,” Schmidt said. “Hopefully it’s something we can build off of.”

The Bonnies continue a four-game homestand with a Saturday afternoon game against the Delaware St. Hornets on Dec. 1.

 

 

 

 

Picture Courtesy: Craig Melvin/SBU Sports Information

Stockard is ready for final season

By: Teddy Caputo 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies had one of their best seasons in program history, having a 26-8 regular season record, a 14-game win streak during the regular season and an NCAA Tournament win against UCLA. Courtney Stockard is the leading returning scorer from last season and is looking to carry his momentum from last year into his senior season.

Last season, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley made up an elite backcourt for the Bonnies. The duo was a huge part of the Bonaventure’s success last year, but they weren’t the only ones putting up stellar performances.  When Adams and Mobley struggled in some games during the season, Courtney Stockard, a 6’5 junior forward, stepped up when the Bonnies needed him.  He averaged 13.3 points and six rebounds per game in his first season playing for St. Bonaventure.  Stockard had some impressive performances, including 26 points in the tournament win against UCLA. Stockard also had a career-high 31 points in the triple-OT win against Davidson. Stockard talked about his success last season.

“When we needed somebody to step up, I thought why not anybody but me?” said Stockard. “I wanted to try to be that X-factor and next leader that would make the team more dynamic.”

This year he is in the position to step up and do it again, and he says he is ready for that challenge.

“I want to pick up where I left off last year and stay aggressive throughout the season,” said Stockard.

Stockard is one of three seniors this season alongside fellow teammates Nelson Kaputo and LaDarien Griffin. Stockard talked about their leadership obligations as seniors.

“Since we’re the veteran guys, we want to show the new guys on the team how it’s done and what we did to get to the point we were at last year,” said Stockard.

The Bonnies have five new players who are trying to acclimated to St. Bonaventure.

“With this offseason, there’s been a lot of individual work,” said Stockard.  “With us having a lot of new guys, we have to get them up to par, get them used to Schmidt’s system and used to the college game.”

One of the new Bonnies this season is transfer Jalen Poyser. Poyser is a transfer from UNLV. The junior transfer from Malton, Ontario scored 10.4 points and two assists per game in his sophomore season for the Rebels. Poyser is a guy who Stockard thinks can be productive on the perimeter.

“He’s a pretty explosive player, and I think that’s what people are going to find out really soon,” said Stockard.  “With him on the other wing, he’ll be able to take some pressure off me and I’ll be able to take some pressure off him.” Stockard added, “With that, we’ll be able to make a pretty big impact on this team and on the conference.”

Even though the team is young and inexperienced compared to last year’s team, Stockard believes this team has more talent from than last year’s squad and has high hopes for this season.

“We may struggle to start the season, but I think once these guys get going and get used to the way things are in college basketball, we have enough talent to be dangerous come March,” said Stockard. “If everybody hits their stride and I pick up where I left off last year, then I think we should be pretty good this season.”

Stockard talked about games he’s looking forward to on the schedule.

“I think the Syracuse game would probably be the one,” said Stockard.  “They think the game last year was a fluke, so if we could get it done again this year, we can prove that it wasn’t a fluke, that we can play with you guys and that we’re here to stay.”

Stockard gets a chance to lead the Bonnies and pick up where he left off last season in their exhibition game against Alfred University on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:15 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

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!”

Bonnies stun Bruins in first NCAA Tournament win since 1970

By Josh Svetz and Sean Lynch

The last time the St. Bonaventure Bonnies won a game in the NCAA Tournament, there were no cell phones, laptops and the fad known as disco was not even invented yet.

The alumni that lived around the time of Bonaventure’s 1970 Final Four run swear the Bonnies would have won the championship if Bob Lanier was healthy. The Bonnies would have got a shot against the UCLA Bruins, a powerhouse of the decade.

Over forty years later, those alumni can finally take solace in the game that wasn’t.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies, a school of fewer than 1,800 students, beat the UCLA Bruins, a school that has that many kids in its intro classes, 65-58, in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at University of Dayton Arena.

The Bruins came out on fire, going 5-5 from the field in the first four minutes and looked unbeatable defensively.

The Bonnies started flat, posting 2-7 from the field.

Jaylen Adams talked about handling the Bruins early hot streak.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Adams said. “We didn’t hang our head when they started making shots. We knew we would have our turn and we punched back.”

And punch back they did.

Bonnies’ head coach Mark Schmidt switched to a zone and the Bonnies forced consecutive turnovers to push their way back. The switch frustrated the Bruins, making them close out the half shooting 8-23 and a six-minute scoring drought. Even with star guard Jaylen Adams shooting 0-7, the Bonnies brought the score within one late in the first.

After some time to sit and get recomposed, Adams returned, finding Courtney Stockard for a drive and foul. Stockard sank two free throws.  After looking dead early, the Bonnies had their first lead of the day, 23-22.

The chants came rolling from the rafters of the UD Arena in Dayton, but they weren’t the usual chants of “Go Flyers.” Instead, a constant barrage of “Let’s go Bonas” rang out, turning Dayton, Ohio into Olean, New York for the night.

The Bruins continued to struggle with the crowd and the Bonnies’ pressure, as they held the highest scoring Pac-12 team to just six points in the last 14 minutes of the half. A last-second mid-range by Idris Taqqee gave the Bonnies a 28-23 lead at the half.

After halftime adjustments, both teams traded baskets quickly, neither team quite pulling away. The Bruins damn near tried, starting 6-7 from the field in the first 10 minutes of the second half and taking back the lead with a 5-5 field goal run. Adams continued to struggle from the field, bricking three after three.

Someone else had to step up. Someone had to be the hero.

It happened to be the player that some didn’t even think would play.

Courtney Stockard stepped up in his NCAA Tournament debut, scoring 26 points and grabbing four rebounds.

Stockard drove through the lane all night, taking on virtually the whole Bruins’ squad and made layups down the stretch.

Stockard talked about the process of going through the season and playing a high caliber UCLA Bruins team.

“Back in the offseason, we set some goals for ourselves,” Stockard said. “This is a special group of guys and when we set those goals, we knew what we had to do. We had our work cut out for us and we went out there and accomplished something big.”

Then, Matt Mobley woke up. A key three to extend the Bona lead electrified the crowd and as the song “Can’t Hold Us,” by Macklemore played throughout the arena, the decibel level suggested that literally, the ceiling couldn’t hold the bona fans. Just maybe, UD Arena might need a new roof.

But the Bruins didn’t quit. They found themselves in a hot streak of their own, capitalizing on open looks and mismatches within the zone defense of the Bonnies.

But after 39 minutes of misses, bad threes, even air balls, Adams made up for everything. With the game tied at 58, Adams came down the court and knocked down a jumper giving Bona’s the lead. Then, he stole the ball from Holiday, got fouled and made both free throws, sealing the game.

Adams said winning despite his struggles says a lot about the group of guys around him.

“It just shows what type of team we can beat,” Adams said. “ I couldn’t get into a rhythm, but my teammates picked me up.”

Head coach Mark Schmidt was sentimental about the whole tournament experience and his Bonaventure career up to that point in the press conference.

“It’s a special moment,” Schmidt said. “Some people said I shouldn’t take the (head coaching) job. For us to go from having three players to beating UCLA in eleven years, it’s something I’m really proud of.”

Schmidt continued to talk about the spirit of the team.

“We always talk about how we’re a bunch of misfits,” he said. “No one wanted us. We come to Bonaventure and work our tails off.”

With the win, the Bonnies advanced to the second round, where they will face 6th seed Florida on Thursday in Dallas, Texas at 9:57 p.m.

While Coach Schmidt and the Bonnies are buzzing from this victory, they’re already looking ahead to Thursday night, even the upcoming red eye.

“I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments, but we’re not done,” he said. “We can look at those records once this is finished. We want to continue and that 2 a.m. flight is going to be the best flight I’ve ever taken.”