February 25, 2012

Bonnies, 49ers Meet Saturday in A-10 Clash

Game Notes: St. Bona | A-10 | Charlotte
Charlotte: Roster | Schedule & Results | Statistics
Twitter updates: @Go_Bonnies | #Bonnies

In Brief
St. Bonaventure (15-10, 8-5) heads to Charlotte (13-13, 5-8) in search of its first road win against the 49ers as the A-10 race continues.

A-10 Player of the Year?
Senior All-America candidate Andrew Nicholson is in his final season with the Bonnies. After  posting 14.9pts and 6.9rebs in the non-conference season Nicholson looks to be peaking down the stretch, averaging 25.2 and 11.8 in his last five games. The 6-9 forward is shooting 44 percent (8-18) from 3-point range and 63.6 percent from the field overall in 13 Atlantic 10 games.

Last Time Out
Andrew Nicholson totaled game-highs of 30 points and nine rebounds to lead four Bona players in double figures as St. Bonaventure (15-10, 8-5 Atlantic 10) dominated Fordham (9-17, 2-11) at Rose Hill, 89-63, on Wednesday. The senior went 10-of-14 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, pacing the Bonnies to their third win in four games.

Where We Stand
In the ultra-competitive A-10, the Bonnies are deadlocked in a three-way tie for third (Xavier, UMass - both own tiebreakers over SBU).

Next Up
Bona hosts Saint Joseph's in its final home game of the regular season - a contest that matches teams currently separated by a half game near the top of the A-10 leaderboard.

With a Win …
A win over Charlotte would guarantee SBU just its fifth winning record in the A-10 (member since 1979-80) and first since 2000-01. The Bonnies would also match their win total from all of last season (16) and become the only school in the league to increase its league win total in each of the last five seasons.

Charlotte: Last Time Out
Chris Braswell scored 19 points and Javarris Barnett added 18 as Charlotte beat George Washington 72-62 on Wednesday night.The 49ers went on an 18-3 spurt early in the second half after trailing 42-41, and the Colonials never mounted a serious comeback the rest of the way. The victory moved Charlotte closer to securing a spot in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament after the teams came into the game tied for 11th place in the conference standings. DeMario Mayfield added 15 points and nine rebounds for Charlotte.

When Last They Met
Andrew Nicholson scored 34 points and St. Bonaventure outlasted Charlotte 92-88 in three overtimes in the Bonnies' conference opener Jan. 8, 2011 at the Reilly Center. The 49ers, who overcame 10- and 11-point deficits in the second half, trimmed the Bonnies' 53-42 lead with a 15-3 run midway through the second frame and the teams kept it close after some wild swings to start.

Co-Player of the Week ... Again
Nicholson earned A-10 weekly honors for the second straight week and the third time this season on Monday. The Mississauga, Ontario native averaged 25.5 points and 9.0 rebounds, while shooting 4-of-4 from 3-point range and 60 percent from the floor overall (20-30) in a split week for the Bonnies.

Nicholson Passes Lanier
With his 10-of-14 outing at Fordham Wednesday, Nicholson (57.7 percent) moved past Bob Lanier (57.6) for first place on the Bona all-time field goal percentage chart. The senior is shooting an absurd 66.2 percent from the field, including 6-of-7 from the field in his last five games.

The Answer is Simple
If asked to name all of the Atlantic 10 players who rank in the top five in conference scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocks, the answer is simple: Andrew Nicholson. He leads the A-10 at 19.5ppg, sits third in both rebounding (8.9) and FG% (63.6), while ranking fifth in blocks (26).    

Nearing 2,000
Andrew Nicholson sits just 63 points shy of 2,000 for his career and can reach the milestone if he averages 21 points per game over his final three regular-season games. If he is able to break 2,000, the Bonnies would become the 17th school nationally and third in the Atlantic 10 (La Salle 6, Xavier 5) with at least five 2,000-point scorers.

Cook, He's a Monster
Senior Da'Quan Cook finished with 16 poinits and six boards to help the Bonnies dismantle Fordham for the second time this season. It was his first double-figure scoring game in four outings and just two off his season-high 18. He also scored 18 in the previous meeting with the Rams.

More on 2,000
Duke boasts 11 2,000-point scorers, the most in the country. Boston College (7) is second, with Georgia Tech, La Salle, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Tennessee and Villanova claiming six apiece. Indiana, Michigan, Murray State, Oklahoma, Virgina, Wake Forest and Xavier have five each.

Rarified Air
With his 32-point, 13-rebound double-double versus Rhode Island, Nicholson passed Essie Hollis (1,905 points) and moved into fifth on the Bona career scoring list (1,907).

Cleaning the Glass
Bona owns a +4.8 edge on the glass this season, best in the A-10 and 43rd nationally (as of Feb. 20). The Bonnies have outrebounded eight of their last nine opponents and are 12-4 when grabbing more rebounds than the opposition.

Block Party
The Bonnies have blocked at least three shots in eight of the last nine games, and in 20 of 25 contests overall. SBU rejected a season-high nine shots against Fordham (Jan. 21) and blocked seven in the Cleveland State, George Washington and Dayton games.

Finding Road Wins
Roads wins have been tough to find for the Bonnies, who are 2-8 in their last ten conference away games. SBU has not won back-to-back to away games in A-10 play since Jan. 22 (Fordham) and 29 (GW) last season.

Changing of the Guards
Head coach Mark Schmidt swapped Jordan Gathers in for Matthew Wright versus Rhode Island, adjusting the starting lineup for the first time in 12 games. It marked Gathers' first career start and was the fifth different cast deployed by the Bonnies this season.

Better Off the Bench
Matthew Wright earned the 2-guard spot in place of Michael Davenport earlier this season, but has come off the bench in in two straight, a decision that appears to have paid off for head coach Mark Schmidt. In 18 games as a starter, Wright averages 6.9 points and shoots 28.4 percent from 3 with a 1.4 A:TO ratio. Coming off the bench, Wright posts 7.9 points, shoots 38.7 percent from 3, and has a 4.5:1 A:TO ratio. Wright came off the bench for the first time in 18 games vs. URI and responded by knocking down his first two 3s and passing out eight assists with no turnovers.

Home Sweet Home
SBU had its eight-game home winstreak snapped with the loss to Temple, just its third loss in the last 17 home, regular-season A-10 games (14-3) since Feb. 27, 2010 vs. Rhode Island. In their 10 home victories overall (10-2), the Bonnies have posted a double-digit win in all but one (Dayton, +8), including a 44-point victory over Fordham Jan. 21.

Johnson Ranks 2nd in FT%
Chris Johnson is 52-58 from the charity stripe, good for an 89.7 percent clip, which currently ranks second all-time at SBU. He fails to qualify for the NCAAs free throw (2.5 makes/gm – 60) minimum but met for the school's single-season standard (50 attempts) in the loss at UMass.

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 12-4 when outrebounding opponents, 9-1 when holding the opposition under 40 percent from the field and 9-1 when posting fewer turnovers.

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 68 straight since missing the Dayton game as a sophomore, while Conger has started 56 straight since the beginning of his second season.

Fine From the Line
The Bonnies rank 6th nationally in free throw percentage at 76.7 percent (384-505, as of Feb. 20), and are one of three A-10 teams inside the nation's top 20. SBU has shot more free throws that its opponent in 12 of its 14 wins this season.

Against the Grain
Four Bona players scored 10 or more points in the win over Fordham, the 14th time this season that three or more players have cracked double digits for SBU. The Bonnies are 13-1 in those games, with the only loss being the Saint Louis game.

Closing it Out
The Bonnies got off to a tough 3-4 start to the season, and let late 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 11 games when holding a lead with 4:00 minutes to play (15-3).

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, before breaking into the starting lineup vs. Rhode Island.

Andrew's Explosion
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 43.7 percent of SBU's points (655-1,498) – the largest percentage of a team's points by Canadian players in the nation.

Let Me Upgrade Ya
There's no debating that the Bonnies (RPI: 109) 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.