For St.Bonaventure this Atlantic Ten Tournament championship was sweet and historic. Their other title was in 2012, now the first time in their storied basketball history, the Bonnies captured both the A10 regular and postseason championships in the same season. The Bonnies defeated VCU 74-65 Sunday at Dayton Arena, improving to 16-4 while VCU is now 19-7. Both teams had their name called a few hours later on Selection Sunday. The numbers:
Possessions: 68 – Bona enjoys a pace a few possessions slower. VCU likes it a few faster. Call it a standoff)
Offensive Efficiency (points per possession): Bona 109, VCU 96
First Four. Opening four minutes were deadlocked at eight. Bona coach Mark Schmidt always preaches about starting the second half strong. His club did that. Barely two minutes into the final stanza, Kyle Lofton stole the ball and went three quarters of the court for a layup. VCU, which trailed by 7 at the break was down 11. The Rams called time out as the momentum was shifting in Bona’s favor.
Foul trouble. Bones Hyland, the A10 Player of the Year, was hit with foul trouble, picking up three in the first ten minutes. Hyland went to the bench and as VCU coach Mike Rhoades said, “we let it (Hyland’s foul trouble) affect us more than it should.” In the latter part of the second half Bona’s Osun Osunniyi and Dominick Welch also left the game with their fourth personal. VCU made a run trimming a 17 point deficit, midway through the second half, to seven in the stretch. The Bona pair returned to the lineup to help stop the bleeding as the Rams could not draw any closer. For the record, neither Hyland, Osunniyi or Welch fouled out.
Priorities. Going into the game Schmidt emphasized the need to rebound and take care of the ball. “We didn’t change what got us here,” Schmidt said. “We defended, we rebounded and we took care of the basketball VCU, they’re so well coached and if you don’t take care of the ball they’re going to get out on the break and their fast break numbers are lethal.”
For the contest Bona won the battle of the boards 42-32, including an offensive rebounding advantage of 13-5. “They (VCU) outrebounded us both times this season,’ Schmidt said. “Rebounding was something we stressed and worked on all week in practice,” In the turnover category Bona committed 10 for a very low, and excellent, 14% TO rate. The Rams forced turnovers at a conference leading 24% this season.
MVP. The Kenpom MVP was the Bonnies’ Kyle Lofton with a game high 23 points. Lofton hit 4 of 5 from deep and was a perfect 7 of 7 from the charity stripe. Tournament MVP was Osunniyi. The Bona big man scored 14 points, added a game-high 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Bonnies had balance with Welch (13 pts) and Jalen Adaway (10) also in double digits.
Hyland led VCU with 21 points. He shot 4 of 11 from the floor while going 11 of 12 from the line. “Second half we put him Hyland) on the line too much,” Schmidt said. “That was on our defense. We lost track of him at times.” Overall the defensive job was notable as Hyland’s teammate Vince Williams shook his head looking at the stat sheet saying,” I don’t remember Bones ever shooting 4 of 11.”
Next. Bona will face LSU, coached by former VCU mentor, Will Wade, at Indiana’s Assembly Hall on Saturday. VCU, the only other A10 school getting a NCAA bid, faces Oregon, also on Saturday at Farmer’s Arena in Indianapolis.
“This game will go down in history…to see our fans out there today, the ‘Bona Nation, was so important. Their support and the Dayton fans who came out and supported us went a long way.” – Mark Schmidt
“We played hard but at times we were too emotional. It affected our shot selection and missed assignments. We’ll learn from it. Overall we had a season worthy of getting us to Indianapolis (NCAAs).” – Mike Rhoades