Matthews, Nicholson lead Bonnies past Duquesne in A-10 First Round
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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Senior Chris Matthews equaled a career-high with 28 points and sophomore Andrew Nicholson turned in his third straight 20-point outing to lead St. Bonaventure to a 83-71 win over Duquesne Tuesday night in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship at the Reilly Center.
The win is the fifth in six games for the Bonnies, who improve to 15-15 on the season. The Brown and White’s A-10 postseason win is their first since 2002, when they also defeated Duquesne in the first round.
St. Bonaventure advances to Friday’s quarterfinal round of the A-10 Championship in Atlantic City and will take on top-seeded and two-time defending tournament champion Temple. Gametime at Boardwalk Hall is set for noon.
“I’m really proud of our team especially Chris and
Jonathan (Hall), because we wanted to get to Atlantic City for them
and our guys did it for them,” said head coach Mark Schmidt.
“We didn’t play that great on the defensive end but
Andrew was terrific inside and Chris is playing really well right
now from the perimeter.”
Just six days ago against Duquesne, the combo of Matthews and Nicholson combined for 42 points as they each scored 21 points. Tonight, the duo hit the 20-point plateau together for the third time in six games, going a combined 16-of-24 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw line for 53 points.
Matthews’ 28 points also equaled the program record for most points by a player in an A-10 Tournament game and in the process he also tied the single-season record with 98 three-pointers. Matthews drilled 6-of-8 from long range and went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Nicholson has tormented Duquesne over his career, scoring 20 or more points in four of five games. The A-10 All-Conference second team choice went 8-of-13 from the field and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe en route to his team-leading ninth 20-point game this season. Nicholson also tied for the team lead with seven rebounds and had three blocks.
For the third time in four games and the 11th time this season, St. Bonaventure shot above 50 percent (25-49) from the field, while sinking 9-of-12 from long range and 24-of-31 from the line. The Bonnies dished out 18 assists on their 25 made field goals and had just 11 turnovers.
Duquesne, who was led by junior Damian Saunders’ 20th double-double of the season, shot a shade under 50 percent (29-59), but was plagued by a 5-for-21 performance from long range.
The opening 5:16 featured five lead changes until a 6-0 run by Bill Clark gave Duquesne a 13-9 lead.
Matthews brought the Bonnies right back with a 6-0 run of his own that featured three free throws after getting fouled from beyond the arc and his 94th trifecta of the season. Matthews’ run sparked the Bonnies, as his opening six points were a part of an 11-2 spurt that gave the home team a 20-15 lead 9:59 left.
The Bona lead quickly evaporated thanks to a four-minute scoring drought that left St. Bonaventure trailing 24-22 with 5:50 on the clock. The drought saw the Bonnies go six possessions without a point.
After being held in check over the first 16 and half minutes, Nicholson found a rhythm inside, scoring seven of the team’s final 10 points to help St. Bonaventure take a 34-30 lead at the break.
Nicholson’s 11 points combined with the 11 from Matthews by the 11-minute mark helped the Brown and White claim their 10th halftime lead out of 15 games at the RC this season. Duquesne was doomed by a 1-for-12 shooting performance from long range over the opening 20 minutes.
Nicholson’s late run in the first carried over to the second half, as the 6-foot-9 forward helped the Bonnies survive Duquesne cutting the Bona lead to one, 45-44, at the 14:14 mark. Nicholson scored nine points in the first seven minutes of the final frame, including the first four of a game-changing 14-1 run that ballooned the Bona lead to 14, at 59-45 with less than 10 minutes to go.
The Dukes cut it to a two-possession game, 69-63, with 4:29 remaining, but a 9-0 run by Matthews clinched the team’s first A-10 quarterfinal appearance since 2002.
Fellow senior Jonathan Hall battled through an off-shooting night to score 11 points, grab a team-high seven boards and dish out five assists over 37 minutes.
Fans can watch St. Bonaventure’s quarterfinal game against Temple live on CBS College Sports or on Time Warner SportsNet in Buffalo, Rochester and Olean. CBS’s Eric Frede (Play-by-Play) and John Griffin (Analyst) will have the call.