Nov. 12, 2007
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - What a way to break in Bob Lanier Court.
In a performance that even the "Big Cat" would have been out of his seat at, seniors Zarryon Fereti and Michael Lee combined for 58 points as the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team stormed to a 97-80 win over Binghamton in its home opener in front of a raucous 4,196 fans on Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center.
Fereti and Lee each established career-highs in points with 32 and 26, respectively. Fereti hit on 9-of-12 from the field, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and was perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. Lee finished 9-of-12 from the field and added a team-high 11 rebounds for his eighth career double-double.
"Mike is playing with confidence, he's active and he's being everything we need him to be," said head coach Mark Schmidt, who made is regular season debut in front of the Bona faithful. "I liked how our group bounced back, especially Zarryon."
Home court advantage was in full-effect as the St. Bonaventure student section, renamed the "WolfPack", came out by the hundreds dressed in brown and created a deafening atmosphere. Fueled by the energy from the crowd, the Bonnies upped their all-time home opener record to 79-8, including 40-2 in the Reilly Center.
"The fans were tremendous. This is the rebirth of the RC," Schmidt recited after being mauled by the student section following the win. "This will bring life back to this campus. It was a great night for St. Bonaventure basketball."
The first half featured 12 lead changes and five ties as the teams traded baskets for most of the half. St. Bonaventure used a 10-1 run over the final 3:14 of the half to create the first real separation of the game at 41-33 the half.
The story of the first half was the play of Lee and Fereti, and the Bonnies ability to finish at the free throw line. The duo combined 27 points and 10 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. The Brown and White made their living at the free throw line, going 16-for-18 at the charity stripe.
Momentum stayed with the Bonnies in the second half. Just over a minute into the period, the Bonnies went on a 12-2 spurt that brought the fans out of their seats. Lee accumulated five points during the run, followed by four from freshman Hillary Haley and a trifecta by Fereti for a 19-point lead, at 55-36.
The Bearcats never found their way back into the game as the Bonnies lead never dipped lower than double-digits.
"I'm really proud of our effort," said Schmidt. "This isn't my first win. I haven't won a game since 1985. All of the credit goes to the players."
The Bonnies torched the Bob Lanier Court rims, hitting on 58 percent (28-48) from the field, 57 percent (8-14) from long range and 87 percent (33-38) from the line. The Brown and White also controlled the boards owning a 40-27 edge on the glass.
In all, four players reached double figures for St. Bonaventure. Haley chipped in with 12 points and four rebounds, while senior Tyler Relph had 11 points and a team-best six assists. Junior Tyler Benson continued to play big minutes off the bench, racking up nine points and nine boards.
St. Bonaventure (1-1) will now head to Albuquerque, New Mexico the Basketball Travelers Invitational hosted by New Mexico University. The tournament will begin on Friday, November 16 with the Bonnies squaring-off against West Coast Conference member Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m. Eastern time.