Heart stopping. Gut check. Character revealing…Add your own description but the fact is St. Bonaventure’s 68-65 victory over Clemson in the Charleston Classic semifinals was one not soon forgotten. The Bonnies improved to 4-0 while Clemson of the ACC suffered its first loss in five outings.
Possessions: 62- more of a grind it out tempo.
St. Bona 110
Both offenses running at a highly efficient level. Shooting beyond the arc had a lot to do with those numbers. Bonnies were 14 of 24 for 58% while Clemson shot a not too shabby 9 of 23 for 39 %.
Kenpom MVP: Jaren Holmes of the Bonnies. Holmes scored 19 points (5 of 8 long distance) with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Kyle Lofton deserves mention for his team leading 22 points (4 for 5 from deep) and four assists in 40 minutes of outstanding floor leadership and clutch plays.
Clemson’s PJ Hall , a 6-10 sophomore, tied Lofton for game scoring honors with 22. “We had a terrible time guarding Hall,” Bona coach Mark Schmidt admitted. “He is very difficult to guard.”
Bonnies trailed by 16 late in the first half. The deficit was trimmed to a manageable 10 at intermission. Schmidt noted how there was no panic. “Even in the huddle guys stayed focused and confident just concerned with what needed to be done,” Schmidt said.
There were not many looks offensively in the low post for Bona but Osun Osunniyi (4 points) was a huge factor with 11 boards and two blocks in 37 minutes,
Resilience. Bonnies trailed at the half for their last three contests. Second half comebacks show outstanding poise and the trait you expect from a seasoned, veteran team. As Schmidt said, “we are blessed to have five seniors who know what it takes to win.”
TD Arena in Charleston has become ‘Reilly Center 2.0’. In both the win over Boise State on Thursday and the Clemson game, Bona fans came out in significant numbers, making their presence known. Schmidt has noted on many occasions how the Bona fan base may not be the largest but they are the most passionate. Fans do not get stops or bury threes. They can energize a team at crunch time as the Bona group has done in Charleston.
Next up for Bona is Marquette in the championship on Sunday. Kenpom predicts a 72-67 Bona victory. Marquette is coached by a familiar name, Shaka Smart. He roamed the sidelines at VCU before heading to Texas. Smart took over at Marquette this season. His Golden Eagles came from behind to defeat West Virginia in the other semi. Smart has already put his stamp on 5-0 Marquette. Not so much with the signature Havoc defense of VCU days but with the ability to play hard and come from behind in the face double digit deficits. Their last three outings saw wins over Illinois, Ole Miss and West Virginia. Shapes up to be an intense final as Schmidt and Smart match wits once again.