Men’s basketball: Bonnies’ second-half surge falls short in NIT loss

(Marcus Posley Photo Credit:

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Senior guard Marcus Posley was the last player in a white and brown jersey off the court, taking a moment to acknowledge the Reilly Center crowd that had idolized him for the past two seasons.

If the Bonaventure men’s basketball season had been a perfect storybook, the final moment of Posley’s home collegiate career would have been the victory over UMass on his Senior Day. His last collegiate game would not have been in Olean, N.Y., but on a court with “March Madness” emblazoned on it.

Unfortunately for Posley, fellow senior Dion Wright and the rest of the team, there would be no storybook ending this year. Instead, the Bonnies would fall to Wagner in the first round of the NIT, 79-75.

As much as they attempted to block it out of their minds, as much as they tried to flip the switch and gear up for a deep tournament run, Bona was unable to shake the Selection Sunday snub that left the school out of the NCAA Tournament.

“Seeing some of the guys’ faces, you can tell (getting left out of the tourney) affected them a lot,” Posley said.

Wagner came out firing, outscored a lackadaisical SBU squad 40-26 in the first half of the game and was able to weather a Bonaventure comeback to pull off the win in the final minutes. The Seahawks shot 48.4 percent (30-of-62) from the field and used the 1-3-1 zone that led them to the Northeast Conference regular season title to hold the Bonnies to a 41.9 percent (26-of-62) clip.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Adams led the team in scoring with 24 points on 8-of-20 shooting, including six threes. Posley was not far behind with 18, while Dion Wright scored 12 and Idris Taqqee and Denzel Gregg each scored 10.

Romone Saunders led Wagner’s attack with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and four triples. Three other Seahawks also scored in double figures, with forward Mike Aaman finishing a rebound short of a double double.

The 16 offensive rebounds Wagner collected didn’t seem like a major factor on the stat sheet since Bonaventure grabbed 15. However, the four extra second chance points the Seahawks registered looked big in a four-point win.

The contest could have reverted the 4,793 Bona faithful in attendance back to the Jan. 19 home game against Dayton. While the Flyers are obviously a much higher caliber team than the Seahawks, the rough, uninspired starts and furious comebacks that fell just short were very similar.

“We didn’t come out well at all… we didn’t have any energy, they knocked us back,” said Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. “And then in the second half, we got ourselves back into the ballgame. But every time we got close, give Wagner credit, they made a play to stretch the lead out a little bit.

“I thought our effort was good in the second half, much better than it was in the first half, but we got down big in the first half and it was hard to overcome.”

As hard as it may be for Bona fans to believe right now, Schmidt said the past four days did not define the season.

“Winning 22 games, 14 in the conference and an Atlantic 10 (regular season) championship, those are the things that we’ll remember,” he said. “It’s disappointing how it ended, but that’s sport, that’s basketball; not everybody finishes the season with a win.

“It’s a season that we’ll all remember.”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies shift focus to NIT, host Wagner

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt said his team was treating Sunday night’s Selection Show like it treats other losses.

The team had its normal period of being upset and thinking about the omission, but was back at it in practice at 4:15 the next afternoon.

Tonight’s first round NIT Tournament game against Wagner at 7 p.m. at the Reilly Center is the commencement of an opportunity to show people what kind of team the Bonnies have and how resilient they can be. There will have no shortage of crowd support, as the arena is expected to sell out for the second time this season.

“Obviously there was a lot of negative emotions about Sunday or whatever,” sophomore point guard Jaylen Adams said. “But I think it’s in the past. Nothing we say or do can change anything at all. I think we’re excited.”

Bona is the top overall seed for the tournament and a favorite to win its first NIT title since 1977. A championship run would mean three more games at home in the Reilly Center and two games (a semifinal and final) in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, which is known as “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

The Garden is the goal, but as Schmidt said, “We can’t get to MSG without winning the first.” Wagner will be the underdog, but the 22-game winner was the Northeast Conference (NEC) regular season champion. Notable non-conference results were a nine-point loss to St. John’s and a ten-point loss at Seton Hall.

The guard-heavy Seahawks boast a big backcourt. Sophomore Corey Henson stands at 6-foot-3 and leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points a game. 6-foot-5 junior Michael Carey is the other player in double figures with 12.6 points per contest, while 6-foot-4 redshirt senior Dwaun Anderson and 6-foot-3 sophomore Romone Saunders average 9.8 and 9.5, respectively.

Wagner uses its size to its advantage, and SBU has taken note of that while gameplanning.

“They’re extremely aggressive and they play very in-your-face defense, so I think in practice we’re beating up on each other a little,” Adams said. “It’s been a fun couple of days preparing for them.”

Four Seahawks transferred in from other D-I college programs. Anderson came in from Michigan State, redshirt senior Mike Aaman came from Rhode Island, graduate student forward Henry Brooks came from Penn and redshirt sophomore forward A.J. Sumbry transferred in from Quinnipiac.

“I lived in that league for six years, and I know how good it is,” said Schmidt, who coached at NEC member Robert Morris before he was hired at Bonaventure. “You live in that league with transfers. They’ve got two to three high-major transfers.”

The last time the Bonnies were in the NIT was 2002, and tonight will be their first NIT home game since 1995.

In a high-energy atmosphere with a trip to NYC in the possible near-future, the RC will be rocking, and Bona’s All-A10 first team selection is looking forward to it.

“It’s a great opportunity in the NIT and I think it’s definitely gonna be a lot of good vibes, good emotions going into the game,” Adams said. “And I think we’re excited.”