When the NIT pairings were released Sunday evening, one could understand St. Bonaventure faithful thinking about the Seventies John Denver song ‘Rocky Mountain High’. Following the Bonnies’ first round victory at Colorado you couldn’t blame a few of those Bona followers if they belted out part of that tune. Even with the game ending past 1 am EDT.
The Bonnies staged a second half rally to defeat the host Buffaloes 76-68 at the CU Events Center. Tuesday’s victory improved the Bonnies to 21-9 while Colorado finished at 21-12. The second round sees Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies travel to Oklahoma on Saturday.
Possessions: 66- Right in the range of both teams. Colorado was a 69 possession team in Pac-12 play. The Bonnies averaged 66 in A10 games.
Offensive efficiency: St. Bonaventure 115, Colorado 103, Bonnies found the shooting touch and posted an excellent 14% turnover rate (9 TOs on the night) for an outstanding efficiency, coming at the most opportune time.
Resilience. Bona jumped out to a 10-2 lead early. The latter part of the first half they went four minutes without a field goal, It was a great chance for Tad Boyle’s club to gain separation. The Bonnies prevented them from gaining more than a two possession lead and at intermission the hosts led 39-36.
Colorado opened strong in the second half taking an early 10-point lead. The Bonnies responded with a 10-0 run of their own. In a game featuring 7 ties and 8 lead changes, Colorado tied the score at 68 with just over two minutes to play. On the next possession Osun Osunniyi finished a lob from Kyle Lofton to give the Bonnies a lead they would not relinquish.
“Give our guys credit,” Schmidt told gobonnies.com.”In the second half we played much better defense and we made shots. It was a hostile environment but the guys overcame everything. “
Focused. Granted, the scenario was rough. Going on the road, traveling two time zones and having to travel one day after the field and pairings were announced. The Bonnies were not dealt a favorable hand by the committee. They knew it but maintained their focus on the job at hand and an opportunity to play in the NIT.
Post game Schmidt noted, “I thought we had a lot going against us with flying four hours, the altitude and coming off a tough loss…I was proud of how we did dealing with adversity in the last week or so and getting this draw coming out here. Everything was against us, but I thought our players did a great job bouncing back.”
Bonnies had five double digit scorers. Jalen Adaway had a game-high 17 points. Lofton added 15 with 8 assists. Osunniyi scored 13 while pulling down a game-high 10 boards and blocking four shots. Jaren Holmes scored 13 with 6 assists and Dominick Welch had 12 and 8 rebounds.
Keeshawn Barthelemy scored 15 points for Colorado. Evan Battey and Tristan da Silva had 14 and 13 respectively.
Bonnies shot 53% including 50% (10 of 20) from three. Colorado shot 43%. A normally strong outside shooting team, the Buffs were held to 25% (7 of 28) from beyond the arc.
Kyle Lofton showed how valuable and the type of competitor he is. Following Friday’s heartbreaker against Saint Louis, Lofton couldn’t wait for another game. Another chance. He turned in an excellent performance capped by a jumper with 72 seconds left that basically sealed the verdict.
Bonnies travel to Oklahoma on Saturday for round two of the NIT. There was speculation the site could change as Oklahoma is hosting the first round of NCAA Women’s Tournament on that date.