Given little chance of winning much without star guard Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure gave an emphatic answer on Friday.
Courtney Stockard's layup with 3.2 seconds left gave the Bonnies a 63-61 win over previously unbeaten Maryland in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic.
St. Bonaventure (3-1) advances to face TCU in the championship game Saturday at 6:00 CT on CBS Sports Network. The Horned Frogs topped New Mexico in Friday's first semifinal.
After Maryland guard Anthony Cowan tied the game on two free throws with 25 seconds left, the Bonnies set a play with Stockard at point guard. The 6-6 Stockard held the ball before going around a Josh Ayeni screen and driving the right side of the lane, scooping a shot over two Terps defenders. Maryland was not able to get off a potential tying shot, setting off a celebration by the Bonnies and their fans at Raider Arena.
Stockard, who had missed the last two games with a groin injury, scored a career-high 14 points. The heroics were a redemption for the junior from St. Louis who missed both of the last two seasons due to foot injuries.
Matt Mobley led the Bonnies with 16 points, going 10-10 at the free throw line. Ayeni scored 11 points.
Freshman guard Izaiah Brockington made his first career start and acquitted himself well in 32 minutes, scoring eight points. LaDarien Griffin also scored eight points with five rebounds. Griffin's night included a highlight-reel dunk off a lob from Nelson Kaputo in the first half.
Despite a glaring size differential, the Bonnies played Maryland evenly the whole night. St. Bonaventure's changing defenses forced 20 turnovers that led to 20 points. The Bonnies came up with 12 steals led by Kaputo with four.
The Bonnies started strong behind Josh Ayeni, who made his first two shots to stake St. Bonaventure to an early 10-4 lead. Maryland gradually pulled ahead, and the game stayed close the rest of the half. Stockard's drive pulled St. Bonaventure within one at halftime, 31-30.
Second half featured lead swings through the first 10 minutes, The Bonnies grabbed a 40-38 lead thanks to an 8-0 run capped by two Stockard free throws with 12:14 left. But the Terps answered with eight straight to grab a 47-40 lead at the 10:17 mark. Cowan's three-pointer gave Maryland its largest lead of the night at 52-44 with 8:19 remaining.
Ayeni, Stockard and the Bonnies battled back, eventually tying the game at 53 on Stockard's free throws at the 4:06 mark. Maryland went ahead 59-55, but Mobley scored on a drive and then added a pair of free throws to knot the contest again.
Following a Maryland missed shot, Ayeni was fouled in the lane and converted two free throws to put the Bonnies up 61-59 with 34 seconds left. Mobley then was whistled for a foul – his fifth of the night – to send Cowan to the line, where he tied the game for the eighth time.
Stats Of The Game
St. Bonaventure won despite not making a single three-pointer, going 0-7. The positive: 20 forced turnovers leading to 20 points.
Beyond The Boxscore
- Maryland received votes in both top 25 polls this week.
- It was St. Bonaventure's fourth win all-time over a Big 10 team, not including 11 wins against Penn State when the Nittany Lions were in the Atlantic 10.
- Friday's game was the first meeting between the schools.
Up Next: St. Bonaventure will face TCU for the Emerald Coast Classic championship Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.