A season for the ages, one not to be forgotten, one to raise a glass to in the venerable Burton- all came to an end on Saturday at Indiana’s Assembly Hall. LSU defeated St. Bonaventure 76-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies closed the book on the campaign at 16-5. LSU is 19-9 and will play Michigan in the second round of the tournament. Numbers and thoughts…
Possessions: 67- Right around the Bonnies’ pace and a bit slower than LSU favors. Tempo was not the main factor in this outcome.
Offensive efficiency (points per possession): LSU 113, Bona 97. On both the offensive and defensive ends, the Bonnies were subpar. For the season, in conference play, the Bonnies were at the top with a 108 offensive efficiency and 93 defensive efficiency. “We needed to play our A-game against LSU,” Bona coach Mark Schmidt told the Olean Times Herald. “And we didn’t.”
First four. At the 16 minute media time out the score was knotted at 4. Bona defense was effective. On the offensive end there were good looks but the shots were not dropping.
The opening of the second half proved to be decisive as the Tigers of Will Wade opened up the stanza on a 7-0 run. That increased the LSU lead from 9 at the break to 16 in the early minutes following intermission.
Bona fought back several times the second half threatening to make it a three possession game, but that LSU early second half lead proved too much to overcome.
Stock Market. The coaching cliche says ‘offense is volatile like the stock market’. On this day the market crashed for Bona. They shot 7 of 30 (23%) the first half, including 0 of 10 from long range. For the game the numbers were 21 of 63 (33%) including 3 of 20 (15%) from beyond the arc. LSU was 25 of 62 (40%) overall and 8 of 25 (32%) from three.
“From an offensive standpoint, it wasn’t perfect but I thought we were getting some good looks,” Schmidt said. “Sometimes those (looks) just don’t go down. It was disappointing, but give LSU credit.” Jaren Holmes also told the Olean Times Herald, “Shots didn’t fall for us. That’s life. That’s basketball.”
MVP. Cameron Thimas of LSU earned Kenpom MVP accolades. The freshman guard scored a game-high 27 points. Thomas shot 7 of 18 from the field but was 11 for 13 from the charity stripe. Both teams had four players in double digits. LSU had three with double-doubles- Andre Hyatt 13 points and 10 rebounds, Trendon Watford scoring 11 and pulling down 11 rebounds and Darius Days with 13 points and 11 boards. Holmes paced Bona with 18 points while Osun Osunniyi added 15. Kyle Lofton scored 10 points handing out 5 assists and committing no turnovers in 39 minutes. Lofton struggled from the field shooting 3 of 18.
Boards. LSU won the battle of the boards handily 49-30. Tigers also pulled down 14 offensive rebounds leading to an 18-8 edge in second chance points. Schmidt pointed out an early ankle injury to Dominick Welch was a factor. Welch returned to the game late in the first half, fighting through pain but struggling. Schmidt felt not having Welch at full strength hindered the Bona rebounding effort. Regardless, it was not the entire reason for the disparity off the glass.
“Our rebounding was tremendous,” Wade told the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate. “We knew coming into the game that stat was huge. For us to blast them on the boards, it was tremendous, it was huge.”
Two Ps-pain and perception. In the aftermath there was the pain of losing. Not having their best game and the realization the season is over. Looking at the big picture-fighting through a pandemic, capturing both the A10 regular and postseason titles for the first time in school history and going to the Big Dance. A lot to be proud of- whether you are on the team or a member of ‘Bona Nation’.
“Give all the credit to the players. They fought and are really disappointed,” Schmidt said. “And it’s good they’re disappointed. I’m disappointed. You put so much into it. As I told the team in the locker room we did some amazing things. For us to look back and say the season was disappointing. Absolutely not.”
Schmidt summed it all up adding,” they’ll realize what a year we had when they look back on it the next couple days.”