St.Bonaventure faithful expected a tough battle, destined to go to the wire. Marquette matched the Bonnies with an unblemished ledger entering the Charleston Classic final. This was to be a battle not for the faint of heart. Both teams showed they were capable of coming back from double figure deficits. This had the making of what former Marquette coach the late Al McGuire would classify a ‘white knuckler’.
In the end, the adoring and rapid Bona fans were misguided- same as many of us. St. Bonaventure dominated Marquette 70-54 to capture the classic. The score was not even indicative of the rout.
Possessions:74- a little on the side of Marquette’s tempo but not really a factor in the final analysis.
Offensive efficiency: St. Bona 95, Marquette 73
Bona had an offensive dropoff from the Clemson game where they posted a 110 on offense. The greatest significance lies in the 73 defensive efficiency. Not surprising it was not only their best mark of the tournament but the season to date.
Kenpom MVP: Osun Osunniyi. The Bona big man scored 16 points while pulling down 11 rebounds and rejecting 4 shots.
Bonnies placed four in double figures.Jaren Holmes led the way with 19 points. Osunniyi, as noted, had 16 and Jalen Adaway added 14 and Kyle Lofton 12.
Justin Lewis, a deadly scorer and very effective thus far this season, led the Golden Eagles with 17 points while David Joplin was Marquette’s only other double figure scorer with 10.
How good was the Bona defense? They limited Marquette to 6 of 27 shooting (22%) from downtown. In addition they forced 17 turnovers. The TO rate was 23%. That category calls for 20% or more to be an excessive number offensively. Marquette. In the second half when the Bonnies opened it up, Marquette was held to a 30% field goal percentage.
Bona was only 2 of 17 (12%) from three. Didn’t turn out to be a big problem as Bona enjoyed an outstanding 50-18 edge on points in the paint.
Only other A10 team to win this tournament was UMass in 2013. In the process of capturing the crown , Bonnies defeated teams from the Mountain West (Boise State), ACC (Clemson) and Big East (Marquette).
Kyle Lofton earned tournament MVP honors. Jaren Holmes joined Lofton on the All-Tournament team. Holmes also was chosen Atlantic 10 men’s basketball Player of the Week.
Sweet Sixteen. Bonnies are 5-0 and moved to 16 in Monday’s AP poll. Marquette is now 5-1.
Late in the game Bona coach Mark Schmidt called a time out to get some reserves in the game and give the starters a chance to come off the floor and get some deserved recognition from the fans. Marquette mentor Shaka Smart was a bit perturbed by it all. After the game on the line he and Schmidt seemed cordial as they met. Call it a little overreacting on the part of Smart. He is an intense competitor and had to be frustrated the way his team played. He knows Schmidt from the days of roaming the sidelines at VCU. And he knows Schmidt is far from one who would show up an opponent.
Monday evening at the Legends classic at Newark’s Prudential Center, ran into Jeff Battle, a Providence assistant. Battle and Schmidt were Xavier assistants under the late Skip Prosser. Speaking very highly of Schmidt, Battle is not at all surprised by his success at Bona. “He has an old team,” Battle jokingly said of Schmidt’s current group. “They are veterans,” Battle added,” and the thing that impresses me most is how poised they play. They do not get rattled.”