Bonnies fall to Niagara in Heart breaker

By Jeremy Castro

When Nelson Kaputo slipped and fell with around 10 seconds remaining, causing Matt Mobley’s sixth and most crucial turnover, it almost felt like a microcosm for the entire game.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team, a team with NCAA tournament aspirations, lost the first game of their season, at home, to the Niagara Purple Eagles by the final score of 77-75.

The Bonnies were slow from the start, finding themselves only scoring ten total points within the first ten minutes of play.

Senior guard Matt Mobley led the way with 7 points, but was 2-11 from the field and 3 of those points were from the foul line. As a team, the Bonnies shot 25.9% from the field in the first half.

By halftime, the Bonnies found themselves down by nine, and by a score of 34-25.

\Head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the offensive struggles in his post-game press conference.

“We played very poor in the first half offensively,” Schmidt said. “I thought being down by 9 [points] at half time was good as we played so bad offensively.”

Coach Schmidt also described why he felt the team struggled in the first half.

“We played tight,” Schmidt said. “We had just one assist in the first half and I think we were 0-8 from three. We had some good looks; we just didn’t play the first 20 minutes the way we needed to play to beat a team of Niagara’s caliber.”

A lot of the talk before, during, and of course after the game was centered around star point guard Jaylen Adams.

Adams injured his left ankle in the team’s exhibition game last Friday against Alfred. Despite suspicions and murmurs on whether or not he would be ready for the game tonight that seem to go on all week, in the end Adams was kept out.

“He is our best player, but we are not going to make any excuses,” Schmidt said.

In the second half, the Bonnies seemed reinvigorated, scoring six quick points in about the span of a minute. However, they just never seemed able to capitalize.

Niagara’s red-shirt senior guard Kahlil Dukes lit up the Reilly Center, ending with total 23 total points on the night, and hitting 6 out of 8 three pointers.

Dukes is one of seven medal winners to return to the program from last season, and the Purple Eagles returned their entire starting five.

The Bonnies were  much better in the second half, with their field goal percentage jumping up to 50%. Not only did the team seem to have new life, but so did the fans. The Reilly Center was rocking and the crowd was back into the game. With 07:47 left in the game, Courtney Stockard hit a straight away three-point shoot which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

This was it. This is where the Bonnies would push on and finish the game out. However, it seemed every time the Bonnies responded, they’d make a mistake keeping them in the hole.

“Every time we got there (close to the lead), we just had a breakdown,” Schmidt said. – a turnover, we didn’t switch on the ball screen correctly.”

Junior forward LaDarien Griffin, who had a career high in rebounds with 10, compared the first and second half.

“(In the second half) we started playing defense,” Griffin said “We started moving the ball. Once we started getting stops and started scoring, then we started chipping at the lead, but we had too many breakdowns at the end.”

One such breakdown was the one I mentioned at the top of this article. With 12 seconds remaining, the ball is given to Matt Mobley with Bonaventure down by three. He brought the ball up the court and, looking for a give-and-go play to open him up for a three point attempt, passes it to Nelson Kaputo. Unfortunately, Kaputo slipped, fell down, and Mobley’s pass went well out of bounds, ending all hope of a comeback. After the comeback the Bonnies staged to get back into the game, it was a heart breaker. But, seeing how the game went, it was not all that surprising, especially missing their star.

“They beat us with the team we had out there,” Schmidt said. “The credit goes to them.”

The Bonnies take on Maryland East Shore at 7:00 PM on Wed. November 15th at the Reilly Center.

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Five Takeaways From St. Bonaventure Vs. Alfred University

It may not have counted to their record, but the St. Bonaventure Bonnies dazzled, rolling over the Alfred University Saxons, 109-73 in an exhibition game Saturday night, at the Reilly Center.

Here are five things we can take away from the scrimmage.

1. Injuries may, as they usually do, play a factor

Senior star guard Jaylen Adams went down in the first half after appearing to roll his ankle while driving to the rim, wincing and screaming out in pain before limping off the court. He did not play the rest of the game for “precautionary” reasons. Despite how good the Bonnies may look on paper, there is no doubt that they’ll have to deal with injuries as the season unfolds, as will every team in the A-10. Limiting the extent of these injuries and dealing with the adversity they come with will be a big factor for the Bonnies to succeed this season.

2. Courtney Stockard can be a force off the bench 

Junior forward Courtney Stockard came in midway through the first half and looked comfortable despite a 32-month layoff, missing each of the last two seasons due to a foot injury. He had 20 points in 20 minutes, shooting 6-7 from the field including two three-pointers, and 6-7 from the free throw line. If he can log quality minutes off the bench and give the guards time to rest down the stretch, the Bonnies could have one of the deepest teams in the conference.

3. Free throws, free throws, free throws

The Bonnies went 27-35 from the free throw line, which works out to 77.1%. After shooting a solid 76.9% as a team from the line last season, the Bonnies hope to maintain and possibly better that number this season. Making your free throws is essential in close games, especially in the postseason. Perhaps consistency from the line could decide whether this team lives up to the hype.

4. Big man by committee

Unlike the back-court starters, which are set in stone, it is still unclear who will see the most playing time for the Bonnies at the forward position. Junior LaDarien Griffin and sophomore Josh Ayeni started Saturday night, but neither played as much as freshman Ndene Gueye, who logged 20 minutes off the bench, despite recently coming off a shoulder injury. Griffin and Ayeni each saw 17 minutes. Sophomore Amadi Ikpeze should see some playing time due to his 6-10, 250 frame. He saw 12 minutes coming off the bench. It may take a few weeks to find out who will be the starters going forward, but the Bonnies have a few options to consider, a contrast to years past.

5. Athleticism can play a huge factor.

In Alfred University’s defense, they are just a Division 3 school, but St. Bonaventure completely dominated the physical game. The Bonnies Out rebounded the Saxons 44-32, and more than doubled their points in the paint by a whopping 46-18. It will be much more difficult against Division 1 athletes, but showing signs of physicality early is a good sign for the Bonnies.

St. Bonaventure opens up its regular season Friday night at home with a 7:00 p.m. tilt vs. Niagara University.

 

Men’s basketball: Griffin excited to be part of Bona tradition

By Allie Piergustavo

The men’s basketball class of 2019 holds a lot of potential, and freshman LaDarien Griffin is no exception. He had a remarkable high school career and is more than ready to carry that momentum into his career with the Bonnies.

The 6-foot-7 forward finished his senior year at Providence High School in Jacksonville, Fla. with a 31-1 record while averaging 12.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Griffin also won a state title for Providence his senior year, capping off a remarkable season.

“It was great for my city in general,” Griffin stated. “It brought the city together.”

Griffin also spoke highly of his AAU team, Nike Team Florida. FloridaHoops.com rated Griffin 50th in its top 100 players in the state of Florida. Max Preps also rated him sixth in the state in his position as a forward.

“Playing AAU, you had to grow up really quick because you’re not home with your mom all the time,” Griffin said. “It prepared me for college, where you’re on the road constantly.”

Griffin first heard about St. Bonaventure and its basketball program while watching the NBA draft. He then attended a few A-10 games and was impressed by what a great program it is. When asked what he’s most excited for at Bonas, Griffin stated that the energy of the Reilly Center was definitely something to look forward to. When asked what he had heard about the RC, Griffin responded that it was the “toughest place to play in America.”

“It’s really hard to play here, really hard to hear,” he added.

In his freshman year, Griffin is ready to take on the challenge. His main focus in the offseason was improving his shooting, and he hopes to make an impact for the Bonnies this upcoming season. He has a simple gameplan to make this happen.

“Just play defense. Attack the glass and finish at the basket.”