Elmont, NY – The championship matchup of the Gotham Classic saw undefeated Notre Dame face St. Bonaventure at UBS Arena on Friday afternoon. Ultimately the younger Bonnies prevailed in a 63-51 decision. A game the Irish never led. A game delighting the Bona faithful who kept the Thanksgiving celebration going. Notre Dame is now 5-1 while Bona, on a three game winning streak, improved to 4-2. The observations from press row at UBS.
First half: The first four minutes saw the Bonnies out to a 7-2 lead. Bona freshman Barry Evans hit a few in the lane to get the Bonnies going. Both teams started in man to man defense . Notre Dame had a few perimeter looks that did not fall. Bonnies had to be wary of closing out in that man to man. The matchup of Bona’s Chad Venning on Nate Laszewski of ND was one to follow. Both are 6’10” and Laszewski is an outside as well as inside threat.
Notre Dame was ice cold. One field goal with almost eight minutes gone. Mike Brey changed his defense. The Irish went zone. Dane Goodwin buried an open three for ND. Bonnies led 14-7 at the under twelve mark. Mark Schmidt and co. couldn’t expect the Irish to stay cold all afternoon.
On the flip side, Brey did not have a deep rotation which could factor in as the game wears on.
Bonnies rattled off five straight points to push the lead to 13. Time out ND at the 8:45 mark. Shot chart showed Bonnies with as many threes (4) as ND had field goals. At the under four media time out Bonnies led 27-16. Corman Ryan and ND’s Laszewski started to find the range. ND went back to man to man. Bonnies showed good patience in the half court setting. Final possession of the half Dane Goodwin is off the mark from outside
Half: St. Bona 31 Notre Dame 20
Second Half: First four minutes loomed as crucial. At the under 16 media time out Bonnies led by 10. Admire the work of Bona’s Venning. Only criticism is his penchant for falling away on jumpers in the paint. You won’t get a call that way. Other than that, what’s not to like? He’s tough on the blocks and under the glass. Have to wonder if Notre Dame’s style is conducive to p;laying catch up. Another point, ND is undefeated and not conditioned, at least this season, to mounting a significant comeback. For the Bonnies, they were in the driver’s seat- with a lot of basketball remaining.
Ven-Allen Lubin came off the bench to give ND a spark inside. At 6’8” Lubin proved to be a challenge for Bona bigs. Fouls piled up for the Bonnies. ND in the bonus with over 11 minutes remaining. Speaking of ‘interior decorators’ as Peter Vecsey would say and classify Venning, , the Bona sophomore has more than held his own all afternoon down low.
At the 8 minute media time out the Bonnies held an 11 point edge. Defend, make good decisions and take care of the ball were in order for Schmidt’s group. On the opposite bench, Brey was tasked with getting his group to get an offensive spark and make a serious run. The clock was ticking.
ND got to the line, chipping away, thus preventing further Bona separation. A Kyrell Luc three boosted the Bona lead to ten with just over four minutes remaining. Approximately ninety seconds later Luc added another triple. Bona lead was 11 with three minutes remaining. Two ND free throws and an unorthodox field goal off a tipped Bona pass cut the deficit to seven. Daryl Banks canned a three to put the lead back to double digits.
The final minutes the Bonnies took care of the ball. Hit their free throws and to the absolute pleasure of their faithful, cheers drowning out the arena, closed out a 63-51 victory. For Bona, a game they showed excellent poise and defended, especially the perimeter, very well.
Offensive efficiency: St. Bona 103, ND 84
FG pct: St. Bona 41, ND 35
3 PT FG pct: St. Bona 42, ND 12
Rebounds: St. Bona 38, ND 32
TO: St. Bona 11, ND 9
Gotham Classic and KenPom.com MVP: Chad Venning, St. Bona 14 points, 11 rebounds (4 offensive) and 2 blocked shots. An obvious choice!
For Bona, Kyrell Luc finished with 16 points (4 of 6 from deep) while handing out six assists. Yann Farell added and a game high 14 boards .
Notre Dame was paced by Nate Laszewski with 11 points (he was limited to 0 for 3 from downtown). Ven-Allen Lubin was ND’s only other double figure scorer with 10 and a team high 13 rebounds
“They executed very well, they made some big back breaking threes and the big guy (Venning) was too much in the post. We played hard, Bonaventure played a little harder.“ – Notre Dame coach Mike Brey
“ Great game. To Come in here play like we did against Notre Dame, Power 5 , ACC, an experienced team. Start to finish we played really well. Wanted to go inside to Chad (Venning) . I thought our guys were tough. Defended and rebounded that’s how you win at this level. Thought we had to get off to a good start we did… Chad is coming along. He couldn’t have done this 4 weeks ago….defense and rebounding have to be the staple… We still have a lot of growing up to do because we are young but a game like this is big. – St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt