November 28, 2009

Matthews, Nicholson lead Bonnies to 98-71 win over Norfolk State

BOX SCORE (PDF) | SEASON STATS | SEASON STATS (PDF)

NORMAL, Ill. — Behind a career-high 29 points from sophomore Andrew Nicholson and 21 points from senior Chris Matthews, St. Bonaventure pulled away for a 98-71 win over Norfolk State in a fast-paced contest on the second day of the Basketball Travelers Classic Saturday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.

Nicholson did a majority of his damage in the first half, scoring 23 points. The Mississauga, Ontario product also grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and finished 11-of-13 from the field for his second consecutive double-double. Matthews did his damage from the outside, connecting on six three-pointers for his fourth career 20-point game.

“Andrew has played terrific through the first five games and tonight in the first half I really liked his aggressiveness,” said head coach Mark Schmidt. “When teams start to double him (Andrew) inside that leaves a lot of open shots for Chris. We need to go inside-out to be successful and tonight we accomplished that.”

St. Bonaventure’s 4-1 start is its best since 2000, while its current three-game win streak is its third streak of three or more wins in the last 35 games. Prior to last season, the Bonnies had just one three-game win streak over the previous five seasons.

For the fourth time this season, the Bonnies shot over 50 percent and out-rebounded their opponent. The Brown and White finished at an impressive 67 percent clip (37-55) from the field, while posting a 38-30 edge on the glass. Aiding the field goal percentage were a season-high eight dunks and 52 points in the paint.

As a team, St. Bonaventure set a season-high with 26 assists on its 37 field goals. Sophomore Michael Davenport set a career-high with eight assists to go along with 15 points off the bench. Senior Jonathan Hall equaled a career-high with seven assists, while scoring 13 points in a foul-plagued 25 minutes. Sophomore Malcolm Eleby turned in his second straight six-assist performance of the tournament and had his fourth straight multi-steal game with three thefts.

Thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Matthews, St. Bonaventure used a quick 10-2 run to climb out of an 8-6 deficit and its slow start to take its first lead of the game at 16-10 with 12:48 left to play. Nicholson scored the Brown and White’s opening eight points of the game.

After Norfolk State climbed to within 18-14, the Bonnies rattled off a 14-3 run that gave them a commanding 15-point advantage, 32-17, with 8:49 left. In all, the Bona run totaled 26-9 and lasted six minutes and 27 seconds. Nicholson took over for a majority of the run, scoring nine straight points for the Bonnies.

The two teams traded buckets over the final eight minutes, as St. Bonaventure took a double figure lead into the locker room for the fourth time this season in the form of a 44-31 advantage. Nicholson finished the opening 20 minutes just one rebound shy of recording a double-double in the first half for the second straight game.

The St. Bonaventure held onto its double-digit lead the entire second half and took its largest lead of the game (30), 98-68, with 1:01 remaining. The Brown and White have held a 30-point lead in three of five games this year and have trailed for just seven minutes and 28 seconds over the last three contests.

The Bonnies will conclude the tournament by taking on host Illinois State on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET. The Redbirds ran their record to 5-0 with a convincing 93-53 win over Southeast Missouri State in the opening game of the evening. The game can be heard live on GoBonnies.com, while a video feed of the contest can be found on www.GoRedBirds.com.