Bonnies, Minutemen Set for Key A-10 Matchup Wednesday
Game Notes: St. Bona | A-10 | UMass
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St. Bonaventure (12-8, 5-3) travels to UMass (17-6, 6-3) on Wednesday in a meeting of teams separated by just a half game in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings.
Leading From the Front
Senior All-America candidate Andrew Nicholson is in his final season with the Bonnies. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward from Mississauga, Ont. has racked up some impressive accolades thus far – A-10 Rookie of the Year, First and Second Team All-Conference selections, Wooden & Naismith Award nominations – and looks to continue that trend for one last run.
Last Time Out
Saint Louis (17-5, 5-3 Atlantic 10) erased a two-point halftime deficit with a 21-2 run over 6:37 in the second half and notched an 86-62 victory to snap St. Bonaventure's (12-8, 5-3) three-game conference win streak at Chaifetz Arena last Wednesday. The Bonnies played all but 10 minutes without leading scorer Andrew Nicholson, who fouled out with 5:34 to play. Leading 42-40 three minutes into the second half, the Billikens took advantage of a four-point play on a barrage of free throws to spark a 10-0 run. Saint Louis earned a shooting foul and also added two more after Da'Quan Cook was charged with another technical. The Billikens rattled off eight of their 10 from the stripe during the first run, before the Bonnies closed the gap with a quick 7-2 surge that trimmed the lead to 54-51. Saint Louis pulled away for good, aided by 10 SBU turnovers in the final 20 minutes en route to a 50-24 differential after halftime.
The Bonnies begin a three-game homestand by hosting Duquesne on Saturday. The game will be syndicated by CBS Sports Network.
Player of the Year?
Don't look now, but Andrew Nicholson is surging in the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year race. After seeing his production dip slightly (14.3ppg/6.9rpg) in the non-conference season, the senior now ranks among the league's best in scoring (15.9, 7th) and rebounding (7.1, 10th) - one of just three players on both lists - while shooting 61 percent from the floor and nearly 80 percent from the line.
UMass: Last Time Out
Terrell Vinson matched his career high with 21 points and UMass won its 11th game in 14 tries by defeating George Washington 86-75 on Saturday night. The Minutemen avoided their first losing streak of the season, bouncing back from an overtime loss at Rhode Island. Chaz Williams scored 15 points and Freddie Riley added 12 for Massachusetts, which is just a half game behind conference leader Temple. The Minutemen shot a season-best 55.4 percent from the field (31 of 56). Tony Taylor (26 points) and Dwayne Smith (16) scored season highs for the Colonials (8-15, 3-6), who lost their fourth consecutive game and second straight home conference game. The Minutemen used six 3-pointers to lead 40-33 lead at halftime. Then they got their transition game working, creating turnovers that led to a handful of rim-rattling dunks to hold off several George Washington spurts.
When Last They Met
Marquise Simmons scored eight of his career-high 14 from the line and grabbed eight rebounds, but Massachusetts' Anthony Gurley finished with 26 to lead the Minutemen (12-7, 4-2 A-10) past St. Bonaventure, 78-69, Jan. 26, 2011 at the Reilly Center. After trailing by as many as 13, the Bonnies (10-9, 2-4) cut the UMass lead down to two on Simmons' layup from freshman Matthew Wright. The basket capped a 12-4 SBU run to start the second frame, but the Minutemen ran off 12 of the game's next 14 points to build the lead back up to 12 and effectively put it out of reach.
Although SBU is just 2-6 versus UMass since Jan. 14, 2004, the Bonnies claimed a 70-69 victory in their last trip to Amherst (Jan. 20, 2010), and have won two of the last three overall. A win on Wednesday would be just the program's sixth at UMass since the 1988-89 season (5-15).
Keys to Victory
Coach Mark Schmidt has stressed three keys to the Bonnies' success on the hardwood throughout the season: Rebound; Defend; Take Care of the Ball. To that end, SBU is 9-2 when outrebounding opponents, 7-1 when holding the opposition under 40 percent from the field and 8-1 when posting fewer turnovers.
Where We Stand
The Bonnies slipped one spot during the bye week, and currently sit in fifth place in the conference standings. SBU is 0-2 against teams sitting ahead of them in the standings (Xavier, Saint Louis) and have three games remaining versus the top teams (Temple, UMass, LaSalle). The Bonnies are a combined 5-1 opposite teams ranked lower (Duquesne, Richmond, Dayton, Fordham, Rhode Island) and have five games to play versus teams below fourth (Saint Joe's, Charlotte, Fordham, Rhode Island, Duquesne).
That's Just Foul
Senior Andrew Nicholson has been hampered with foul trouble in each of the last three games, fouling out after an average of just 20 minutes played. Nicholson played a combined seven minutes in the first halves against Rhode Island (six minutes) and Saint Louis (one) after being whistled for two early infractions.
COOK-ing Up Something Good
Senior Da'Quan Cook has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and ranks second on the team at 11.2 points per game over his last five outings. Cook poured in 18 in back-to-back games against Fordham and at Rhode Island before chipping in 12 on 5-of-6 from the field at Saint Louis last week.
Start Me Up
Andrew Nicholson and Demitrius Conger have been staples of the Bona starting five over the past three seasons. Nicholson has started in 63 straight since missing the Dayton game as a sophomore, while Conger has started 51 straight since the beginning of his second season.
Strength vs. Strength
The Minutemen enter Wednesday's game leading the A-10 and ranking 27th nationally at 77.2 points per game, while the Bonnies have limited opponents to just 63.4 points per outing, the second best mark in the conference.
Fine From the Line
The Bonnies lead the Atlantic 10 and rank 13th nationally in free throw percentage at 75.7 percent (346-457). SBU has shot more free throws that its opponent in 11 of its 12 wins this season.
1,800 and Counting
With his 14 points in the win over Richmond, Andrew Nicholson became just the sixth player in school history to crack the 1,800-point barier (1,811). The senior also secured his 750th rebound (758). He is on pace for 5th place on both historical charts with 1,949 points and 818 caroms by the end of the regular season.
Against the Grain
Three Bona players scored 10 or more points in the loss to Saint Louis, the 12th time this season that three or more players have cracked double digits for SBU. The Bonnies are 11-1 in those games, with the only loss being that Saint Louis game.
Finding Road Wins
The Bonnies have been effective in defending the home court (8-1) but are just 4-6 in away games so far. The Bonnies average 12.6 fewer points on the road (74.9/62.3) and have yet to win consecutive road games. Home and away season stats breakdowns can be found at the back of these notes.
Closing it Out
The Bonnies got off to a tough 3-4 start to the season, and let second-half leads slip away in three of those four losses (Cleveland State, Arkansas State, Illinois). Following the Canisius game, however, St. Bonaventure has closed the door on the opposition - winning its last nine games when holding a lead with 4:00 minutes to play (12-3).
Blowing the Doors Off
The Bonnies' 44-point margin of victory vs. Fordham is the biggest ever in conference play for SBU and just the second time with a 40+ point victory within the A-10. The other two biggest margins of victory have both come against Rhode Island: 1/29/00 (40, 84-44); 1/21/01 (36, 91-55).
He's a Hunter, That Gathers
Freshman guard Jordan Gathers had a breakout performance against Fordham, posting 12 points on 5-of-7 FGs (2-4 from 3) while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists in 20 minutes. The Los Angeles, Calif. native booked career highs in each of those categories and stepped out of a 1-for-14 shooting funk to start his career.
A Dish to Pass
The Bonnies' 22 assists on 31 field goals were both season highs against Fordham, with the team's 1.69:1 A/TO ratio marking a season-best as well. Back court mates Charlon Kloof (47 assists) and Matthew Wright (56) combine for a 1.7 A/TO ratio on the season.
YOU So Good
Freshman C Youssou Ndoye (YOU-sue EN-doy) used two dunks and went 3-of-3 from the line to record a career-high nine points (3-4 FGs) at Xavier. The Dakar, Senegal native was also active in the OT win over URI with a dunk, drawn charge, block, steal and rebound in the final 77 seconds.
Andrew Nicholson's 30-point, 13-rebound, six-block effort against Dayton was just the third 30+/10+/5+ game in the nation over the last two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information Senior Researcher Jason McCallum. He's the first Atlantic 10 player to do it since Ahmad Nivins in 2008. The last "Power 6" conference player with a 30-10-5 game? Kevin Durant. It marked his sixth career 30-point game (first this season), seventh career game with five or more blocks (first since 5 @UMass 1/20/10), and 20th career double-double (third this season).
Canadians Lead the U.S.
St. Bona boasts three Canadian players on its roster in Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ontario), Matthew Wright (Toronto) and Chris Johnson (North Preston, Nova Scotia). The trio have combined for 43.8 percent of SBU's points (569-1300) – the largest percentage of a team's points by Canadian players in the nation.
Back to Back vs. GW
The Bona triumph over GW marked SBU's second straight over the Colonials. The Bonnies had not defeated George Washington in consecutive contests since Jan. 3 and Feb. 11, 1989, at the very end of five game unbeaten streak against their DC foe.
(Almost) Among National Leaders
Chris Johnson is 43-47 from the charity stripe, good for a 91.5 percent clip, which would be second in the nation and second all-time at SBU. The catch? He fails to qualify for the NCAAs free throw (2.5 makes/gm – 47.5) minimum and is just shy of the school's 50-attempt minimum.
Let Me Upgrade Ya
There's no debating that the Bonnies (RPI: 93) have significantly upgraded the schedule - and the program - during Mark Schmidt 's tenure. By comparison, SBU ended the 2006-07 season (prior to the Schmidt era) ranked 278th in the RPI.
House of Toupane
St. Bonaventure announced the signing of Jean Yves Toupane (Jawn two-PAIN) to a National Letter of Intent Nov. 16. The 6-foot-7 small forward from Senegal joins Lee Academy (Maine) teammate, freshman Youssou Ndoye.