Bona women fall to VCU in overtime

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Mistakes can be crucial late in any college basketball game, and that proved true for the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team on Sunday.

Asianae Johnson was issued a technical foul in the overtime period of a 59-57 loss to VCU at the Reilly Center, and the Bonnies had a shot to win the game on its last shot, but a Tori Harris three-point attempt rimmed out as the overtime clock expired.

Despite the mistakes throughout the game, the Bonnies had four players reach double-figure scoring on Sunday. Harris, a junior guard, led the way for SBU with 18 points and six rebounds. Johnson, a junior, followed closely behind with 15 points. Sophomore Olivia Brown and junior Deja Francis joined with 12 and 13 points, respectively. 

Brown hit three clutch three-point shots, shooting 4-for-8 from beyond the arc on the day, which kept the Bonnies in the game after trailing early in the second half.

Despite the efforts from his team, head coach Jesse Fleming had a strong message during his press conference following the loss. 

“Close doesn’t matter,” Fleming said. We need to find a way to start winning games. There are tears in that locker room and it’s tough for them, but life’s not fair. Win, lose, whatever, we go back to work. That’s all you can do.” 

Although Fleming acknowledged there was some slopy play throughout the game, he also acknowledged the ability of his team to acknowledge the mistakes and improve on them as the contest progress.

“We need to do a little better job on reads late,” Fleming said. “We need to be a little more locked in to defend some assignments. We got screwed up in (the defense) that we were in, and that’s a coaching mistake.”

The Rams were led by Sydnei Archie and Tera Reed with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Maddison Hattix-Covington added 10 points for the Rams.

The Bonnies, who fell to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the A-10, will welcome La Salle to the RC on Friday at noon. The game’s broadcast of the contest can be seen on ESPN+. 

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part two

photo: G. Fiume/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season began on Wednesday, and several Atlantic 10 teams are scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the second of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Massachussetts Minutemen
2019-20 Record: 14-17 
Best Player: Tre Mitchell 

Last season, the Minutemen finished in the middle of the pack in the A-10 despite a losing record overall. While their record was not good, they showed massive improvements throughout the season, led by freshman center Tre Mitchell, who put up just under 18 points and eight rebounds per game.

The team had a strong supporting cast surrounding Mitchell, as well, as TJ Weeks Jr. and now-senior Carl Pierre also put up double digit points. While the Minutemen lost six players between graduation and the transfer portal, the trio of Mitchell, Pierre and Weeks can make some noise in the A-10 if all stay healthy. 

Richmond Spiders
2019-20 Record: 24-7 
Best Player: Jacob Gilyard 

Dayton’s undefeated A-10 campaign last season left many other storylines in the league unnoticed. One of these was the impressive season put together by Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders, who went 24-7 and 14-4 in conference play to put themselves in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid.

This season, Richmond will run it back with the same squad except for the loss of Nick Sherod, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in October. Sherod’s injury aside, this is a talented team picked by many to win the A-10. Jacob Gilyard, a gifted passer who has excellent vision and sets his teammates up well, runs the show for the Spiders. Gilyard can also score the ball, but most of the scoring duties go to his partner in the backcourt, Blake Francis, a crafty lefty who led the Spiders in scoring last season.

Center Grant Golden is a versatile big who fits perfectly in the Richmond offensive system, which the Spiders rarely deviate from despite the abundance of scoring talent they have. Richmond’s senior-laden squad should win a lot of games this season and contend for an A-10 title, as well as an NCAA Tournament bid.  

Rhode Island Rams 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Players:Fatts Russell 

The Rams may have had the craziest offseason in the A-10 going into this season, due to players entering the transfer portal and graduating.

The biggest pieces to leave were Cyril Langevine and Jeff Dowtin. The two of them alone combined for roughly 25 points and 15 rebounds per night. While half of URI’s offense and rebounding left, Fatts Russell is staying for his senior year and will be the catalyst for them, averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 assist last season.

David Cox is going to have his hands full with having to essentially rebuild his entire team after a third-place finish in the prior season. For most teams, this task would be too daunting, but they were able to land twins  Mehki and Makhel Mitchell, who both were four star prospects. The Mitchells spent their freshman seasons playing at Maryland. Additionally, wings Malik Martin and Jalen Carey are expected to play significant minutes.

Saint Louis Bilikens 
2019-20 Record: 23-8 
Best Player: Jordan Goodwin 

With a top-four finish in the conference last season and almost all of the roster returning, Saint Louis fans have a lot to look forward to in the 2020-21 season. The Bilikens return their top two players in Jordan Goodwin and Hassan French, who both averaged a double-double this past season.

Goodwin was voted as a preseason first team all-Atlantic 10 selection, and French was voted on to the second team. The Bilikens will also have senior Javonte Perkins returning. The 6-6 wing averaged 15 points per game off of the bench last season, which makes him one of the conference’s best sixth men. 

As a whole, expect Saint Louis to play a similar style to last season. The Bilikens were one of the conference’s worst three-point shooting teams at 34%, so expect guards in Yuri Collins and Jordan Goodwin to attack the paint consistently. The Bilikens will also look to give paint touches to Hassan French on a consistent basis.

As a team that always plays hard and plays tremendous defense, the Billikens are more than capable of competing for an A-10 championship. If they click offensively and play well on the defensive end, this team could make some noise come March. 

St. Joseph’s Hawks
2019-20 Record: 6-26 
Best Player: Ryan Daly 

In Billy Lange’s first season as head coach, he was stuck with the task of taking over for longtime coach Phill Martelli, who led the team to seven NCAA Tournaments and six NITs during his 24-year tenure. However, it did not go according to plan after only winning a total of six games.

Ryan Daly has been a bright spot for the team, averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebound and 4.3 assists per game last year. His partner in the backcourt, sophomore Cameron Brown, will also be returning in hopes of building upon last season. The Hawks have two transfers in Greg Foster from Gonzaga and Dhamir Bishop from Xavier coming in, which will help provide some depth: an issue last season.

Fans can be hopeful that Billy Lange’s time on the Philadelphia 76ers can help rebuild their culture since, as the Hawks haven’t had a winning season since the 2015-2016 season. But, for now, there is much more work that needs to be done to get back to that point. 

VCU Rams 
2019-20 Record: 18-13 
Best Player: Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland 

VCU collapsed down the stretch last season, going 1-7 in its final eight games. This offseason, the Rams lost most of their scoring and production from a year ago. This will be one of the younger teams in the conference, but has plenty of potential, led by sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland. Primarily a scorer off the bench, a plethora of injuries led head coach Mike Rhoades to insert Hyland into the starting lineup as a freshman, and he handled his new role well.

Despite Hyland’s skillset offensively, scoring may come at a premium, as no returning scorer other than Hyland averaged more than five points per game. Rhoades’ defensive scheme extends out to disrupt the offensive flow of opposing teams, while preventing easy shots off of cuts or open attempts from three. With guys like Vince Williams and Corey Douglass leading the charge, VCU should remain one of the better defensive teams in the conference. This may not be a year in which the Rams contend for the conference title, but they will be competitive in the top tier of the A-10.  

Ask an opposing beat writer: St. Bonaventure at VCU

photo courtesy of Alessandro Latour/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

After four-straight wins to begin Atlantic 10 play, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team travels to VCU on Saturday to play a Rams team that is 2-2 in the A-10 following losses at Rhode Island and Dayton.

Ahead of Bona’s biggest test in league play so far, Noah Fleischman took the time to answer some questions that will allow Bonnies fans to become more familiar with VCU.

Fleischman, a sophomore at VCU, is the sports editor of The Commonwealth Times, for whom he covers the Rams.

The Bonnies and Rams will tip off at the Seigel Center at 2 p.m.

1) VCU scheduled plenty of quality opponents in non-conference play, including then-ranked LSU and Tennessee, Purdue and more. Would you say that the consensus at VCU is that the 10-3 non-conference finish was a success or a failure?

The non-conference finish was pretty successful, despite dropping those three games. The Rams lost both of their games at the Emerald Coast Classic by a total of six points against Tennessee and Purdue.

LSU was the Rams’ “resume” building win early in the season when the Tigers visited the Siegel Center. The atmosphere alone in the arena was similar to that of an NCAA tournament game and VCU played like it.

The only disappointment of the non-conference slate was the Wichita State 73-63 loss. VCU trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half on the road. Last season, the Rams handled Wichita State at the Siegel Center 70-54.

Other than the loss to Wichita State, the non-conference slate wasn’t a failure because of the ranked win against LSU.

2) Last year at the Atlantic 10 tournament, it was obvious that Marcus Santos-Silva was a rising star. This year, despite his statistics only slightly improving from last season, he leads VCU in scoring and rebounding. How much has he improved this year?

Marcus Santos-Silva has been more consistent this season for VCU than he was last season. He’s posted six double-double performances so far this season, something he did twice through the team’s first 16 games. Everytime the ball hits off the rim, Santos-Silva is the first to put a hand on the ball for VCU.

Not only does he rebound the ball at a high level, but he’s the centerpiece of the VCU offense. The Rams run an inside/outside approach, working the ball into the paint before looking for the open three-pointer. VCU is 4-2 this season when he records a double-double, the losses being Tennessee and Rhode Island. Santos-Silva is also shooting 60% from the field, second-best in the A-10 behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin.

Santos-Silva worked on his ball handling and footwork over the summer, allowing him to be more mobile than in past years. One thing I like about Santos-Silva is that he’s unselfish. Even though he’s leading the team in points and rebounds, he doesn’t care about the numbers unless it’s a win.

I wrote this story earlier this season on Santos-Silva and having fun while playing.

3) Other than Santos-Silva and Marcus Evans, which VCU players should St. Bonaventure fans expect to make an impact on Saturday against the Bonnies?

De’Riante Jenkins. He’s averaging 11.1 points a game for VCU and is shooting 40% from the field. The senior hasn’t been shooting the ball too well from three this season, but has been slashing in the paint. Coach Mike Rhoades wants his guards to slash towards the basket and Jenkins is effective at it. He also logged his 1,000th career point at Wichita State this season.

A younger player that St. Bonaventure fans should keep their eye on is Nah’Shon ‘Bones’ Hyland. Hyland, a four-star recruit, replaced P.J. Byrd as the backup point guard behind Marcus Evans this season. He is a confident shooter and isn’t afraid to shoot threes. Rhoades has also used Hyland and Evans on the floor together at times this season, moving Evans to the two guard and Hyland at point. With that lineup on the floor, VCU has two high level ball handlers on the floor, taking the pressure off Evans.

4) Before the season, VCU was regarded by many as a top-two team in the Atlantic 10. Do you think that’s still true? What surprises (on the Rams or other teams) have happened this season that impact your answer?

I think VCU is still a top-two team in the A-10. Yes, they lost to Rhode Island, but that’s nothing new for the Rams. They are 1-7 against Rhode Island in their last eight meetings. If you look at the loss at Dayton, one run defined the game. The Flyers used a 22-0 second-half run to build a 22 point lead. The Rams were able to pull within nine at one point, but couldn’t pull ahead.

The surprise of the season is how poorly the Rams have shot three-pointers. In the loss to Dayton, the Rams shot 3-for-20 from beyond the arc. On the season, VCU is shooting 33% from three, which is seventh in the A-10. If the Rams can shoot more consistently from deep, they’ll be one of the more dangerous teams in the A-10. They have the pieces to do it, it’s just a matter of time before the shots start to fall.

In the A-10, I’m surprised that VCU is the only team that has beat a ranked team. That might change if someone other than VCU can beat Dayton this season. Even Dayton hasn’t beaten a ranked team this season. That shouldn’t hurt the A-10’s chances for a multi-bid league if Dayton wins the A-10 tournament unless VCU doesn’t play well in A-10 play.

Fourth quarter surge pushes Rams past Bonnies

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Isaiah Blakely

A 20-6 fourth quarter advantage propelled the VCU Rams (17-6, 9-1 A-10) to a comeback victory over the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (7-15, 4-5 A-10) 59-50 Wednesday night in the Reilly Center. 

The Bonnies started out with a 9-2 lead including freshman Asianae Johnson’s eight points.  

The Bonnies stifling defense continued as they took an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. They held VCU to only 19% shooting.  

In the second quarter, the leaders in the A-10 woke up. The Rams went on a 19-6 run to take the lead after sophomore Sofya Pashigoreva’s layup. Pashigoreva was part of a dominant night on the glass for the Rams. The Bonnies were outrebounded 36-28. 

Despite the rebounding differential, Bonnies freshman Deja Francis helped stopped the run by the Rams by scoring two of her seven points to tie the game at 27 with three seconds left in the half. 

It was a back fourth affair throughout the third quarter. Sophomore Emily Calabrese was the first player in double figures by scoring eight of her 10 points in the third quarter. Calabrese capped off a strong quarter for the Bonnies with a buzzer beater to put the Bonnies up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter.  

The fourth quarter was a similar story to the second quarter. The Bonnies went almost seven minutes without scoring, leading to a 14-0 run for the Rams to start the quarter. Johnson scored a layup to end the run but VCU was up 54-47. Coming out of the timeout freshman Kseniya Malashka hit a rare three-pointer to put VCU up ten and down the Bonnies.  

Johnson led the game in scoring with 15 points, while the Rams were paced by sophomore Taya Robinson who had 13 points and junior Danielle Hammond 12 points.  

“The way we’ve played for two weeks now and the way we’ve shared the ball; we’ve got athleticism and a good rotation,” said coach Jesse Fleming.  “We were so locked in to start the game that I thought we were going to be able to finish.” 

Fleming is opportunistic about this team’s development. 

“We’re getting closer,” “We’re showing some really good flashes. But, there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to keep working on.” 

The Bonnies look to continue their improved play on the road Saturday against Davidson. 

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.

Women’s basketball: Bonnies open up A-10 Tournament play in quarterfinals against VCU

(Mariah Ruff Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

After tallying the second-most wins in a regular season in program history with 23, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is set to take on VCU in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals at the Richmond Coliseum at 2 p.m. on Friday.

The Bonnies (23-6, 12-4 in A-10) earned the fourth seed after recording 12 A-10 victories. The Rams (22-8, 11-6 A-10) are the fifth seed and secured a quarterfinal spot with a 62-42 win over Richmond on Thursday afternoon.

While SBU is the only team to beat all top three seeds in the tournament, VCU is one team in the A-10 it has yet to defeat. The Bonnies will look to avenge last month’s 52-47 road loss to the Rams, which came without second-leading scorer Miranda Drummond, who missed the game due to injury.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies open up A-10 Tournament play in quarterfinals against VCU”

Women’s basketball: Bonnies head to VCU for potential rankings booster

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team travels to the Siegel Center for a Wednesday night matchup with VCU at 7 p.m. The Bonnies will look to stay in a top position in the Atlantic 10 standings, where they currently sit at second place (8-1) behind George Washington (9-0).

Though VCU is tied for seventh place in the A-10 with Dayton, George Mason and St. Joseph’s at 4-5 in A-10 play, their defense is ranked second to only the Bonnies. SBU leads the league, allowing just 53.3 points per game, while the Rams surrender 55.6.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies head to VCU for potential rankings booster”

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After three weeks of Atlantic 10 play, we have a scenario that many envisioned at the season’s commencement: an absolute logjam in the middle of the standings. Seven teams have an in-conference winning percentage over .500, while VCU is the only perfect team left.

Here are the current standings:

Team Conference Overall
VCU 7-0 15-5
Dayton 6-1 16-3
St. Joe’s 5-1 16-3
George Washington 4-2 15-4
St. Bonaventure 4-3 12-6
Davidson 3-3 11-6
Rhode Island 3-3 11-8
Duquesne 3-4 13-7
Saint Louis 3-4 8-11
Richmond 2-3 10-7
Fordham 2-5 11-7
UMass 1-5 8-10
La Salle 1-5 5-12
George Mason 1-6 7-13

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24”