VCU gets revenge over St. Bonaventure; takes over A-10 lead at home

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

RICHMOND, VA —After a season-best offensive output against La Salle earlier in the week, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team was challenged in a physical rematch with a fellow NCAA Tournament hopeful on Friday.  

The Bonnies (10-3, 8-3 A-10) fell just a possession short to the VCU Rams (15-4, 8-2 A-10) in a 67-64 defeat at the Siegel Center on Friday.  

From the opening tip, Jalen Adaway was in rhythm offensively for SBU. Adaway scored Bona’s first nine points, as it grabbed a 9-4 lead with 13:31 remaining in the first half. He would go on to lead all scorers with 23 points and added eight rebounds to his stat line.   

The game went back and forth in the opening frame, and at the under-four minute timeout, the Bonnies and Rams were locked at 24. With 3:33 remaining in the first half, Na’Shon “Bones” Hyland hit a three-point jumper that began a 9-2 VCU run to secure a 33-26 halftime lead.  

“They’re a good defensive team,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They deny stuff, they play physical, so we knew it was going to be a challenge.” 

Fouls plagued the Bona attack early, with second-leading scorer Jaren Holmes picking up his second foul less than four minutes into the game. St. Bonaventure committed 24 fouls in total, and all SBU starters finished with at least three fouls. 

The VCU momentum carried into the second half, and less than three minutes after the break, the VCU lead expanded to 43-31.  

“If the game was lost, the game was lost in the first four or five minutes of the second half,” Schmidt said. 

After falling behind, St. Bonaventure found success going inside to Osun Osunniyi. With 9:18 remaining, the Ram lead was cut to 53-51.  

Osunniyi finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, but fouled out with 3:10 remaining in the game. Dominick Welch accounted for 10 points and Kyle Lofton had eight points on only six shots.  

The Rams kept the Bonnies at a distance though, as Bonnies could not pull closer than a two-point deficit the rest of the game. With less than 10 seconds to play, a missed free throw by Vince Williams Jr gave the Bonnies a chance to send the game into overtime, but Welch missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.  

“We had a shot to tie the game,” Schmidt said. “It’s a difficult place to play, but we were right there.” 

Despite the Bonnies shooting 44% from the field compared to 36% from the Rams, the havoc presented by VCU made a difference, as the Bonnies accounted for 15 turnovers compared to 11 from the Rams. The Rams nearly doubled SBU on the offensive glass as well, beating St. Bonaventure 19-10. 

“From an offensive standpoint, we shot a higher percentage,” Schmidt said. “They got more shots because of the offensive rebounding.” 

Second chance points proved critical in this close matchup, with the Rams scoring 16 to just 10 from the Bonnies. 

Hyland finished with a team high 22 points, while Williams Jr added 11 points for the Rams.  

With the loss, SBU fell out of first place and is now half-a-game back from the Rams, who now lead the A-10. Due to the disparity in games played among the top teams, St. Bonaventure sits in fourth place behind Davidson and UMass.  

“We gotta fix some stuff, but we were right there,” Schmidt said. “I was proud of the effort.” 

PREVIEW: Bona seeks season sweep of VCU in battle for first place

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Peter Byrne

RICHMOND, VA — “We need to play better than we did in game one if we want to win again.”

Following an 86-73 victory over La Salle on Tuesday, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team will travel to Richmond, Virginia for a matchup against the VCU Rams.

Friday night will be the second matchup between the Bonnies and Rams this season. They met at the Reilly Center just under a month ago, with the Bonnies earning a 70-54 victory.

However, the 16-point victory did not come as easily as the final score might show. After falling behind 40-25 in the first half, the Bonnies responded with an incredible second half. With tenacious defense and hot shooting, the Bonnies outscored the VCU 45-14 in the second half and ran away with the hard-earned victory.

Head coach Mark Schmidt acknowledged the slow start from their last encounter.

“We cannot get off to a bad start again,” Schmidt said. “They have momentum. They have won their last four games.”

Another bad start could the Bonnies in a serious hole, especially against a hungry VCU team which has not lost since they played SBU. 

The last time the Bonnies played at the Siegel Center, they were embarrassed. They trailed at the half by 28 points and lost by the same margin.

The good news for this year? Only 250 specters will be allowed in the arena. Like the Reilly Center, VCU’s home atmosphere is amongst the top in the conference, and even the country.

“Home court still matters but not nearly as much,” Schmidt said. “It is a disadvantage to not have fans, just like it is at the Reilly Center.”

The lack of a raucous crowd should help the Bonnies try to break VCU’s notorious full-court pressure.

“It’s hard to simulate their pressure in practice,” Schmidt said. “One of the keys to the game will not be giving up live-ball turnovers that lead to points.”

The Bonnies committed 15 turnovers in their win over the Rams, but only four of those came in the second half. Protecting the ball will be paramount on Friday night.

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, VCU’s leading scorer, scoring 16 points against the Bonnies the first time around. Bona countered with three double-digit scorers, as Dominick Welch led the way with 19 points.

Friday’s game may be St. Bonaventure’s biggest of the season thus far. First place in the Atlantic 10 standings is at stake, as the Bonnies (10-2, 8-2 A-10) lead the Rams (14-4, 7-2 A-10) by half a game in the conference.

As for the NCAA Tournament implications, the Bonnies have a tremendous chance to earn another signature road win and sweep the #2 team in the conference. The NCAA’s NET rankings have VCU at #36 and SBU at #38, so a win would give the Bonnies a Quadrant one victory and would move them back into the low 30s.

Many people have been asking for St. Bonaventure to prove it belongs. The Bonnies have a shot to do that in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 Friday night.

Superb second half leads Bona to comeback victory over VCU

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — VCU went into halftime with a 15-point lead. After that, the Rams never looked the same.

After being out-played by the Rams on both ends of the floor in the first half, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team used two big runs in the second half to beat VCU, 70-54, at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night.

Bona opened the second stanza on a 20-3 run that was capped with three-consecutive dunks, two of which were accompanied by a defensive foul. Jalen Adaway drove to the rim and dunked over a VCU defender while drawing a foul before Osun Osunniyi did the same. Osunniyi then got another dunk off of a lob pass, which seemingly gave Bona the entirety of the game’s momentum.

After the Rams battled back midway through the half, SBU ended the game on a 19-3 run that spanned over 11 minutes of game time.

“The game was, ‘Who’s going to own the paint?’ In the first half, they owned the paint,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They kept the ball downhill, they were killing us on the back board, we didn’t do a good job against their press… As a coach, you just challenge the guys, and if you have character guys, guys that are competitors, they’re going to respond.”

Jaren Holmes scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Bona, which improved its play on the glass late in the game after being out-rebounded 28-15 by the Rams in the first half. Bona out-rebounded the Rams 22-14 in the second half, however, and only allowed four offensive rebounds in the second frame after giving up 13 of them in the first.

“The most important minutes (of the second half) were the first five minutes,” Schmidt said. “The first 10 possessions. We couldn’t have played better offensively or defensively in the second half. To hold that team to 14 points and the percentage that they shot, it’s a credit to our guys.”

The Bonnies held the Rams to 14 points on 19% shooting from the field in the second half, while shooting nearly 56% from the field and 50% from three-point range themselves. Bona ended up shooting 42% from the field in the game, while VCU shot just 32%.

“Since I’ve been here as a coach, in my opinion, that’s the best half we’ve played both offensively and defensively,” Schmidt said. “We took care of the ball and ran some stuff that was effective, but in essence it came down to, we started going downhill and we stopped them from going downhill.”

Dominick Welch, who had been held to zero points in SBU’s last game (a win over Duquesne), scored a game-high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range. Kyle Lofton scored 12 points for the Bonnies, while Jalen Adaway scored nine points and Osun Osunniyi scored nine points to go with nine rebounds.

“I felt that we weren’t playing aggressively enough in the first half, but we always emphasize defense in practice, and I think that defense and rebounding played a big role in letting our offense (come back),” Welch said. “We really wanted to stick to getting stops and cutting that lead down before the first media (timeout).”

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, who scored a team-high 16 points for the Rams, was held to 1-of-7 shooting for three points in the second half. Vince Williams Jr. scored 11 points for the Rams, while Levi Stockard III and Hason Ward each added eight points.

This was just VCU’s second lost in Atlantic 10 play, as the Rams fell to 3-2 in the league and 10-4 overall.

“We have competitive guys, and I think they were a little embarrassed by how they played in the first half,” Schmidt said. “And they responded. The first tv timeout was critical for us to get some momentum, and we did that.”

This marked Bona’s fifth-straight A-10 win, as the Bonnies improved to 5-1 in the league and 7-1 overall. SBU’s schedule continues to shuffle, as an upcoming Saturday-night road trip to Saint Louis was canceled and replaced by a trip to La Roche University, where the Bonnies will play Duquesne for the second time in eight days.

SBU won its first matchup over the Dukes, 62-48, last Friday at the RC. Bona’s win over VCU gives it sole possession of first place in the A-10, breaking a tie with UMass, which also went into Wednesday night at 4-1 in conference play.

“This is a very good team that we played tonight, and it just shows the will that we have as a team and the chemistry that we’re building together,” Welch said. “It feels like these wins are really different. A step in the right direction.”

PREVIEW: First-place Bonnies prepare to host “powerhouse” VCU

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – After a week that showcased its poise and experience, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has proven itself as a top-level team in the Atlantic 10.  

The Bonnies took care of business against Fordham last Wednesday and handled Duquesne on Friday. Now, tied atop the A-10 with UMass, there are murmurings of a possible tournament bid or a regular season championship for the Bonnies given their position in the standings.

Bona head coach Mark Schmidt knows the idea of any future achievements starts with his team winning its lone home game this week.  

“Home games are most important,” Schmidt said. “If you want to compete for a title, you gotta protect your home court.” 

The Bonnies will look to do just that against VCU on Wednesday. The Bonnies were originally slated for a rematch against Richmond in the Reilly Center on that day, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 fears within the Spiders’ program, leaving SBU to face the Rams instead.  

VCU, coming in at 10-3, flexes one of the stingier defenses in college basketball. VCU is second in the nation in steals per game, averaging 11.5 on the season. Freshman guard Adrian Baldwin Jr and sophomore guard Na’Shon “Bones” Hyland sit at a tie for second in the conference with 2.2 steals per game, and sophomore guard Jimmy Clark III averages 1.9 steals per game.  

“If they steal the ball, live ball turnovers kill you against VCU,” Schmidt said. “So, we got to protect the ball.”  

The Rams rely on their defense to create offense on the other end of the court by speeding the game up and using live ball turnovers to generate fast break opportunities.  

“They do a good job of running and trapping and trying to speed you up,” Schmidt said. “That’s how they play, that gets them going on offense.” 

Offensively, the scoring load is carried by Hyland, who averages 18.1 points per game. Hyland, who has doubled his scoring average from last season, can finish in the paint and poses a lethal stroke from behind the three-point line. 

“You can see that the team has confidence in him,” Schmidt said. “He’s gonna be a handful for the next three years. He’s an exceptional player that seems like he enjoys playing and is getting better.” 

Other players have found their moments to contribute on offense, but junior forward Vince Williams Jr is the only other double-figure scorer for VCU, averaging 10.8 points per game. 

“Williams, I think, is an X-factor. When he plays well, they usually win,” Schmidt said. “He has it all.” 

In their lone matchup last season, the Rams trounced the Bonnies on their home floor 91-63. St. Bonaventure will look to turn around what has been a dominant stretch for the Rams when they face the Bonnies. VCU has only lost to St. Bonaventure twice since joining the A-10 in 2012.

“They got good players,” Schmidt said. “They are one of the powerhouses in our conference.” 

After their matchup against VCU, the Bonnies were set for another big game against No. 25 Saint Louis on Saturday, but the status of that game is in question, as the Billikens announced another positive COVID-19 was found in the program, and they will now need to pause basketball activities once again.

“No matter who you play in the Atlantic 10, it’s an important game,” Schmidt said.  

Wednesday’s game against the Rams should go as planned, however. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off from the Reilly Center, and will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

Men’s basketball: Anarchical ending results in Bona loss to VCU

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

 

Under normal circumstances, the buzz following Saturday afternoon’s St. Bonaventure-VCU game would be about Bona guard Matt Mobley’s incredible 34-point performance and game-winning three-pointer. Bonaventure would have entered a four-way tie for second in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

However, the circumstances surrounding the game’s conclusion were anything but ordinary, as Bona’s big victory became an 83-77 loss, due to its student section and a little-known NCAA rule.

Everything was working for Mobley, even as his teammates struggled to get going offensively. The junior made nine three-pointers, a school record. He also grabbed seven rebounds and swiped three steals, team-highs.

The would-be game-winner was another incredible shot in a day chock full of them by the Worchester, Mass. native. He caught the Jaylen Adams inbounds pass, juked to his left as an attempt to evade Rams guard Jonathan Williams, stepped back and fired the shot, which caught nothing but net. 67-66 Bonnies.

Pandemonium resulted as the clock, which was at 0.4 seconds, hit zero, the light on the basket came on and the students rushed the court to celebrate with the team.

The officials went to the scorer’s table to review if time expired and, if not, how much time was on the clock. Public address announcer Adam Bennett instructed fans that the game was in an officials’ review and to leave the court. After a couple minutes, the fans were off the court, returning to the stands or their spot behind press row.

As that process concluded, the officials talked to Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt and VCU coach Will Wade by the scorer’s table. The details of that conversation weren’t pleasant for Bona Nation.

After review, the officials determined that the clock should be reset to 0.5 seconds. But the big result of the review was a technical foul being issued to Bonaventure due to the court storm being deemed premature and in violation of rule 10, section 2, article 8 d of the NCAA rule book.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Anarchical ending results in Bona loss to VCU”

Men’s basketball: Bonaventure-VCU? For Bonnies fans, say no more

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure ticket office didn’t exactly have to twist any arms.

All 5,480 seats in the 50-year-old Reilly Center were sold by 2:30 on Friday, as the official Bonnies men’s basketball Twitter account proudly proclaimed. The student section is expected to be filled to the brim as well.

Because when Bonaventure hosts VCU at the Reilly Center on a Saturday afternoon, not much more needs to be said.

The Rams are one of the premier programs in the Atlantic 10 and are a game ahead of the Bonnies in the A-10 standings. When the teams met at the RC two years ago, the game was an instant classic, with Marcus Posley making the buzzer-beating layup to defeat a No. 18-ranked, Shaka Smart-coached team.

The atmosphere will be electric and the on-court action should be very competitive, with two top-five teams going at it.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonaventure-VCU? For Bonnies fans, say no more”