Baseball: Bonnies Draw Familiar Foe in A-10 Tournament

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(Aaron Phillips, photo credit Olean Times Herald)

By Josh Svetz @Svetz17

After the St. Bonaventure Bonnies secured the third seed last Friday against Fordham, fans waited anxiously to see who the Bonnies would face in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament.

Before the Saturday games started, it looked certain the Bonnies would take on the surging Saint Joseph’s Hawks for the first time this season.

But a strange wave of events commenced.

The Hawks, who had previously dominated George Washington two games straight, lost it’s regular season finale to the Colonials in a blow out. Then, after being blown out twice by St. Louis, George Mason put together a last-ditch effort and won the final game against the Billikens securing the final spot in the tournament.

St. Louis moved down to the five spot, pushing George Washington up to the fourth and Davidson rested in the sixth spot.

The Hawks were out, and the Bonnies now had a date with one of the toughest teams they’ve faced in conference this season, the Davidson Wildcats.

Back in March, the Bonnies were a sub-par club looking for answers. Out of conference they sat at 5-5, but had a little momentum going with two straight wins over North Dakota State, winning both games despite being shut out in the series opener.

Opening conference play against the Wildcats in North Carolina, the Bonnies stayed neck and neck, tied at one, through four innings.

Then, the inflammation in starting pitcher Brandon Schlimm’s throwing arm acted up. Schlimm gave up three runs and the Bonnies were down 4-1.

Hope shined through when the Bonnies got a man on base, but the sunshine vanished quickly.

A rain delay forced the game to be finished the next day and the Bonnies couldn’t recover, losing 9-2. Just an hour after that loss, the Bonnies had to go out and play again, losing by the same score.

But the next day, in the final game of the series, the Bonnies dominated the Wildcats 17-4, led by a six hit, eight RBI domination by David Hollins. The Bonnies also got a great performance from starting pitcher Aaron Phillips, giving up three-earned runs, five hits and tossing seven strikeouts.

That loss sent the Wildcats into a tailspin, dropping the next five games.

With Phillips likely to start and the Bonnies not dealing with rain delays, pitcher injuries or home field advantage, it’s more likely the team that beat the Wildcats last time will show up, rather than the shell that got beat down twice in a row in a span of three hours.

Still — winning is far from guaranteed.

The Wildcats feature top conference players like Will Robertson and Brian Fortier, two bombers ranking top 30 in the NCAA for home runs.

In fact, the Wildcats rank 20th in the NCAA, averaging 1.26 home runs per game.

But the biggest factor may be ace pitcher Durin O’Linger, who’s compiled a 1.33 ERA through the months of April and May in seven starts.

Despite the offense on both sides, a pitching duel looks evident with two studs like Phillips and O’Linger likely slinging for their teams.

The number one key to victory is Phillips keeping the Wildcat bombers at bay, something he should be able to do giving up just six home runs this season.

As much success as the Bonnies have had recently, there’s two teams that have come to play this season.

This afternoon we find out if the Bonnies are the back-to-back losers Davidson saw in the first two games, or the dominant winners that closed out the Wildcats in the final game of the series.

Men’s basketball: High-scoring duos collide as Bonnies visit Davidson

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

If you like star power, Tuesday night’s St. Bonaventure-Davidson game at Belk Arena figures to be one of your favorite Atlantic 10 games of the year.

The two highest-scoring duos in the conference meet up as Bona’s Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley suit up against Davidson’s Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge.

Gibbs leads Adams in scoring by just .3, 21.5 points per game to 21.2. Aldridge and Mobley are right behind, averaging 21 and 19.5, respectively.

The second-highest-scoring pair of teammates in the country facing the fourth-highest-scoring duo makes this game must-see television. Add in the fact that the Bonnies’ hopes at a double-bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament are still alive (although slim) and that it’s Gibbs’s Senior Night, and you have perhaps the most intriguing league game of Bona’s season.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: High-scoring duos collide as Bonnies visit Davidson”

Women’s basketball: Bonnies visit Wildcats in pivotal road test

(Nyla Rueter Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The mantra is often repeated, in some shape or form, around college basketball: “win your home games and steal some on the road.”

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team has won all ten of its home games, including its last two games over Fordham and UMass, but now it faces a tough road test down south against Davidson on Wednesday night at 7.

The Bonnies (14-2, 3-0 A-10) will look to extend their winning streak to 14 games, while the Wildcats (7-9, 1-2) will look to get back on track after a 79-50 home defeat to Saint Louis on Sunday.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies visit Wildcats in pivotal road test”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies start conference play against Davidson

(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most important part of college basketball’s season- conference play.

For the 8-3 St. Bonaventure Bonnies and 8-3 Davidson Wildcats, who will face off at Bonaventure’s Reilly Center tonight at 8, Atlantic 10 play is the time to rev up the engines. Neither team is in CBSSports.com’s projected NCAA Tournament field after non-conference action (Bonaventure would be on the outside looking in for the NIT as well), so the 18 league games will be crucial to the possibility of postseason play.

“8-3 is good, but right now we’re not concerned about 8-3; it’s 0-0,” said Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt. “We have 18 games and this is the first of 18.”

Davidson, like Bonaventure, lacks a resume-boosting win thus far. The Wildcats played three teams that CBS Sports projects to make the tournament (North Carolina, Pittsburgh, California) but lost those games by an average of 28 points. One of their eight wins was against Division III Denison University, and their most impressive win so far is Mercer.

The Wildcats were hoping for a better start than 8-3, but they are still at or near the top of the Atlantic 10 in many offensive categories. They are first in scoring at 81.7 points per game, tied with Richmond for the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference at 1.5 and second to Duquesne in three-pointers made per game with 9.7.

Individually, 6-foot junior guard Jack Gibbs is first in the A-10 fifth in the nation in scoring, averaging 24.6 points a game with two 41-point games. Three of Gibbs’s teammates are also among the conference’s top 25 individual scorers: 5-foot-11 senior guard Brian Sullivan (14.8 points per game), 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Peyton Aldridge (14.7 ppg) and 6-foot-4 senior guard Jordan Barham (12.5 ppg).

Davidson has traditionally been a small team under coach Bob McKillop, so three-point prowess has long been a part of its repertoire. This season, four players (Gibbs, Sullivan, Aldridge and sophomore forward Oskar Michelsen) are averaging at least four three-point attempts a contest. Sullivan leads in three-point percentage at 41.5 percent, while the team is shooting about 34 percent from outside, as is Bonaventure.

The Bonnies are holding opponents to a 31 percent success rate from long-range, much better than the 38.5 percent mark they were allowing after non-conference play last year. In last year’s buzzer-beating SBU win, the Wildcats made nine three-pointers, including two each from Sullivan and Michelsen.

“We haven’t played anybody as good a shooting team as this, so it’ll be a great challenge for us,” Schmidt said. “We’ve done a decent job getting to three-point shooters so far, but Davidson is a little bit different than what we’ve played. They don’t have one or two three-point shooters, they’ve got four or five.

“They’re a terrific offensive team with great skill players, so somehow you have to defend the three-point line… you’ve got to sustain your effort for the entire possession.”

Defensively, Davidson is near the bottom of the conference. The Wildcats allow 79.6 points a game, last in the A-10, and teams are shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three, 11th and 13th respectively. They are also last in the league in rebounding margin, losing the battle on the boards by an average of eight rebounds a game.

As Schmidt pointed out, however, the defensive numbers are somewhat misleading due to the 76.5 possessions a game the Wildcats average, 29th-most in the NCAA.

“They give up a lot of points, but there’s more possessions because they also score a lot of points, so they’re defense is better than it appears,” Schmidt said.

“You can’t outscore them, you’ve got to out-defend them, but at the same time you’ve got to put points up on the board.”

Gibbs and Sullivan are a formidable duo in Davidson’s backcourt, but Bona gives them a tough matchup with Jaylen Adams and Marcus Posley. Posley is 10th in the conference in scoring with 17 a game, while Adams is two slots behind at 16.2. Adams is also tied for first in assists per game with 5.2 and fourth in three-point percentage at 45.2 percent.

The guard showdown is the one to watch, and Adams is ready for the challenge of conference play.

“I think we played against some pretty tough opponents, good guards and bigs, so everybody’s had a test at a position at least once in the non-conference. I feel good going in.”

Bonaventure has won eight of its last ten games in the Reilly Center going back to last season, while Davidson has won six of its last ten road games. It’ll be strength against strength to start the A-10 slate on Saturday night.

 

 

 

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review- 12/14-12/20

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10’s men’s basketball week started and ended with a thud, but the league was still 11-5 overall. Here are the best and worst performances of the past seven days:

Team records this week: Duquesne 2-0, Dayton 1-0, Fordham 1-0, George Mason 1-0, George Washington 1-0, Rhode Island 1-0, Richmond 1-0, St. Bonaventure 1-0, St. Joe’s 1-0, UMass 1-0, Davidson 0-1, Saint Louis 0-2, VCU 0-2

Three stars of the week:

Derrick Colter, Duquesne. The Dukes had another 2-0 week to extend their win streak to four, and Colter was their top player this time around. The 5-foot-11 senior guard averaged 18.5 points, five assists and 4.5 rebounds while playing 73 of the 80 possible minutes against South Carolina State and Robert Morris. Those scoring numbers included six threes and a perfect 13-of-13 mark from the free throw line. Considering Colter battled cancer a year ago, he and his teammates have to be overjoyed that he’s leading a 10-2 Dukes team in scoring.

Trey Davis, UMass. Davis dropped 40 against New Orleans on Wednesday and made headlines in the postgame interviews as well. When asked how he got out a major slump in which he shot 15-of-57 from the field in the team’s three previous losses, Davis told MassLive.com, “Man, my mom turned my phone off after the game we just lost. She was mad. Talking about my free throws and all this other stuff.

“She said ‘Why are you missing free throws and all these jump shots?’ So she just turned my phone off and she told me ‘Get it together.'”

Needless to say, Davis figured it out, going 10-of-18 from the floor and 18-of-20 from the line to lead the Minutemen to victory. Coach Derek Kellogg may consider asking Davis’s mom to shut off her son’s phone before every game.

T.J. Cline, Richmond. Cline hit a career-high five three-pointers and made six other field goals to give him a team-leading 27 points in the Spiders’ 77-61 victory over Old Dominion. The fact that this performance came against an ODU team that entered the matchup allowing just 57.8 points a contest made it easy to put Cline on this list. It was his second 27-point game of the season, and he’s getting hot at the right time; like many A-10 teams, the Spiders have two more non-conference games before the conference tests begin.

Best win: Rhode Island over Iona. The Rams held an Iona team that came into the game averaging 84 points a game to 74 on Saturday. The Gaels staged a furious comeback from a 12-point deficit to send it to overtime, but Hassan Martin had six points, two boards and a block in the extra session to help Rhody survive and improve to 7-4.

Worst loss: Davidson gets blown out by Pitt, 94-69. This wasn’t a bad loss in terms of competition- the Panthers came in at 8-1 and received votes for the AP Poll and Coaches Poll last week. Still, it was peculiar to see a Davidson team lose by 25 in a game they had a decent chance at winning (Vegas had them as 5.5-point underdogs). The Wildcats were outrebounded 52-31, allowed four Pitt players to score in double figures and, most importantly, shot an anemic 20 percent (6-of-30) from three-point range. Coach Bob McKillop’s team lives and dies by the three, attempting the third-most triples per game in the country. On Sunday, the longball just wasn’t going in, and it cost them at Madison Square Garden.

Best games in the week ahead: UMass-Providence on Monday at 7 on ESPNU and La Salle-Miami (FL) on Tuesday at 5 on CBS Sports Network are the most intriguing matchups. St. Bonaventure-Siena and VCU-Buffalo, both on Tuesday night at 7, are underrated games you should take a look at as well.