ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The St. Bonaventure men's basketball team (7-8, 0-2 Atlantic 10) battled No. RV/24 VCU (14-3, 2-0 A-10) tough the entire afternoon, but the Rams proved too much in their inaugural conference road game against the defending league champions as they pulled out a 72-65 victory Saturday at the Reilly Center.
In the loss – the fifth straight for the Bonnies – senior Demitrius Conger became the 39th member of the program's 1,000 Point Club as the Brooklyn native hit a late 3-pointer to give him 1,002 career points. Conger finished with a game-high 19 points, and also issued three assists as he joined just two other Bona players in school history with 1,000 career points, 500 career rebounds and 200 career assists.
Junior Matthew Wright, who came off the bench for the first time this year, reached double-figure scoring for the sixth time this season as he had 10 for the Bonnies, a total equaled by senior Chris Johnson, who passed out four assists against turnovers. Wright dished out three assists of his own against no turnovers and knocked down two 3-pointers.
VCU, which led nearly the entire game, shot 59 percent in the second half (13-22) to turn a three-point halftime lead (32-29) into its 11th straight victory, despite tallying its third-lowest 3-point total (5-11) of the year.
Trailing by seven, 50-43, midway through the second half, the Bonnies put together consecutive buckets by Wright and junior Charlon Kloof to get back within three with 11:38 left. However, VCU answered with a Darius Theus layup just 10 seconds later, and a Jarred Guest jumper extended the cushion right back to seven on the Rams' next trip.
The three-point margin was as close as SBU would get the remainder of the contest, as the Brown and White trailed by single digits for all but a couple minutes of the second half.
Bonaventure handled VCU's notorious Havoc defense reasonably well as the Rams – who came in leading the nation in steals (13.6 per game) and turnover margin (+9.1) – had seven thefts off the Bonnies and finished with a +1 turnover margin (16-15). The seven steals breaks a streak of seven straight games in which VCU has recorded double-digit steals.
Conger added a team-best seven rebounds, and also knocked down a career-high-tying four 3-pointers as Bonaventure hit a season-best 11 3's (11-25) as a team. Defensively, however, the Bonnies allowed their fifth straight opponent to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor as VCU connected at a 52-percent clip (26-50).
Treveon Graham scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high-tying nine rebounds to lead VCU, and Troy Daniels was the lone other Ram in double-figure scoring as he tallied 10. Theus issued seven of VCU's 15 assists as the senior committed just one turnover.
St. Bonaventure returns to action in a nationally-televised tilt against Xavier on Wednesday in the RC. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, and the game will be a rematch of last year's A-10 Championship game, won by the Bonnies.
GAME NOTES: Conger added a block and a steal … Kloof had four assists in 26 minutes … making his first start of the season, Eric Mosley knocked down three 3-pointers for his nine points … Marquise Simmons had a balanced game with eight points and six rebounds … VCU outscored SBU in the paint, 32-18, and off turnovers, 14-4 … Bonaventure shot 80 percent from the foul line (12-15), compared with just 56 percent for VCU (15-27) … the loss is the 21st in a row to a ranked team, dating back to a 57-56 win over Temple in February 2000.