Valentine’s Day for St. Bonaventure faithful. Card, check. Dinner (Burton burger counts), check. Bonnie win, check. St. Bonaventure made it two straight , following up Friday’s road win, over Saint Louis with an 83-79 triumph Monday at Reilly Center. Suffice to say a fair amount of those Bona hearts beat a little faster as the visiting Billikens fought back from a 16 point halftime deficit to get within one possession in the waning moments. Bonnies improved to (15-7) 7-4 in the A10 while Saint Louis fell to (17-8) 8-4. The numbers and notes…
Possessions: 68- Ironically the exact same amount of possessions as the meeting on Friday in Saint Louis.
Offensive efficiency: St. Bona 122, Saint Louis 116. An increase on offense for Bona and a drop off on the defensive side. Credit the Billikens for finding the range from beyond the arc. They shot 29% from deep on Friday. In the rematch the mark improved to 47% as Travis Ford’s club hit 9 of 19.
TO rate: An arguably decisive number. Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies committed five turnovers for an outstanding 7% turnover rate. Saint Louis turned it over 17 times for a 25% rate. In conference play Saint Louis’ TO rate is 18%. Bona held a 22-1 edge in points off turnovers. Obviously, turnover problems were a main reason the Billikens dropped their second straight.
The first four minutes saw the Bonnies draw first blood for a 7-4 lead. Bona made a concerted effort to start inside/out getting the ball down low to Osun Osunniyi. Kyle Lofton left the game briefly in the first two minutes. Lofton would soon return but in the interim he was spelled by Quadry Adams who instantly made his presence known with a nice backdoor cut, finishing with a slam dunk.
Another Valentine’s Day reference is appropriate in noting the visiting Billikens showed a great deal of heart. As recent seasons proved in this series, Travis Ford and company don’t go away easily. Down 16 at intermission, the Billikens utilized those important first few minutes after the break to their advantage. They went on a 9-1 run to make it a three possession game. Saint Louis maintained resiliency and fight. Once again after falling behind by 17, battled back to get the deficit to one possession in the stretch. Trailing by three with six seconds remaining Jordan Nesbitt (5 of 7 from three) missed a long straightaway three point attempt. Bona’s Jalen Adaway was fouled on the rebound and hit one of two to seal the verdict.
Both teams shot well. Bona connected on 54% of their field goal attempts while Saint Louis hit for a 56% mark. Bona was dominant with a 58-30 difference in points in the paint.
Kenpom.com game MVP honors went to Osunniyi with a game-high 21 points, hitting 9 of 10 field goal tries. No surprise the Bonnies are playing better of late with ‘Shun’ asserting himself on both ends of the floor. Dominick Welch added 19, Jaren Holmes 18 and Adaway 17. Lofton paced Bona with eight assists.
Nesbitt led Saint Louis with 18. Gibson Jimerson, held to single digits in Friday’s game, had 17. Fred Thatch had a double-double with 17 points and a game and career high 13 boards. Yuri Collins fouled out, with just over four minutes remaining, after scoring four points. Collins had game-highs in assists with ten and six turnovers. Once again the dynamic Saint Louis lead guard was an important part of Bona’s defensive game plan as they did a good job neutralizing the dangerous Collins.
Saint Louis has dropped two straight, both to Bona. The Billikens return home to host La Salle on Wednesday. Bona is on a three game win streak and continues a four game home stand entertaining UMass on Wednesday as well.
“ The first half we Couldn’t have played better, we shared the ball, 12 assists and three turnovers. Up 16 against a team of that talent says a lot of our guys. We knew they would come back, they’re well coached and have players. They made a run and we answered….’shun’ has given us something inside the last three games. We made a few mistakes on defense but I really can’t complain about our performance.” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt