In a game that likely exceeded its considerable hype, St. Bonaventure got a signature win and snapped the nation's longest win streak with a 77-74 decision over No. 14/16 Rhode Island on Friday night at the Reilly Center.
Junior forward LaDarien Griffin was the late-game hero, scoring the go-ahead bucket on a dunk off a Jaylen Adams feed with 21 seconds left that put St. Bonaventure in front 75-74.
Rhode Island guard Jeff Dowtin was fouled by Adams but he missed the front end of a one-and-one. Matt Mobley secured the rebound and was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. He made one of two at the free throw line to make it a 76-74 Bonnies lead.
Jared Terrell drove the right side of the lane in an attempt to tie the game but Griffin altered his shot and it bounced off the rim. Mobley grabbed yet another crucial rebound and was again sent to the free throw line, where he again made one of two shots, this time with four seconds left. A desperation shot by Terrell missed.
The win carried more than its share of positive implications for St. Bonaventure (20-6, 10-4 Atlantic 10). The Bonnies' 20th win of the season snapped Rhode Island's 16-game win streak and moved St. Bonaventure's own winning streak to eight games, tying its season best. It also was the Bonnies' fifth consecutive win over a ranked opponent and gave them a needed resume' boost in the final weeks of the regular season.
Mobley led the Bonnies with 26 points – the second-most points allowed to an opponent by the Rams this season. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Griffin finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks while going 4-for-4 at the free throw line. Courtney Stockard finished with 13 points while Adams had 10 points and eight assists.
The win seemed in jeopardy with 7:44 left when the Rams (21-4, 13-1) grabbed their largest lead of the game at 67-61 on Cyril Langevine's fastbreak layup.
The score stayed that way until a steal and a dunk on the fast break by Courtney Stockard at the 6:01 mark gave the Bonnies a spark. A pair of free throws by Griffin with 5:24 to play pulled the Bonnies within two points.
The Rams counter-punched with back-to-back layups by Terrell and Fatts Russell to extend the lead back to 71-65 with 4:29 to play.
After two Mobley free throws made it a 71-67 score, the Rams went up 72-67 on a free throw with 3:53 remaining.
From there, though, the Bonnies would finish the game on a 10-2 break, powered by Griffin. Adams' jumper with 3:23 to go started the comeback. Then, four straight points from Griffin put the Bonnies back on top at 73-72, giving them their first lead since the 10:47 mark in the second half.
Two at the line from Langevine put the Rams ahead, 74-73 with 38 ticks left, setting the stage for the final moments, which had every fan in the sold-out Reilly Center standing. It would be a game that shared 13 ties and 21 lead changes and the score was never separated by more than six points.
The first half was as tight as could be, with both teams starting out hot from the field before the defenses adjusted. The game was tied at each of the first three media timeouts.
Mobley's three-pointer gave St. Bonaventure a 29-26 lead, but the Rams answered as Jared Terrell made a jumper and then a three-pointer to put URI in front 31-29 with 3:58 left in the first half.
The Bonnies got the final score of the first half, a dunk by Griffin, and ended up leading 37-36 at the break. There were 13 lead changes and eight ties in the opening 20 minutes. Mobley led St. Bonaventure in the first half with 11 points while Stockard scored nine and Adams added eight.
Beyond The Boxscore
- The victory extended the Bonnies' program record Atlantic 10 winning streak to eight games. St. Bonaventure now holds sole possession of second place in the A-10.
- The Bonnies handed Rhode Island their first Atlantic 10 loss in 366 days and snapped what was a 22-game A-10 winning streak for the Rams.
- The Bonnies now have three straight 20-win seasons for the first time since a four-year streak from 1958-1961.
- Matt Mobley recorded 20+ points for the 13th time this season. He also recorded at least eight rebounds for the sixth time this season.
- Jaylen Adams recorded seven or more assists for the 10th time this season.
- LaDarien Griffin's 14 points marked the 10th time in his career he has reached double figures in scoring.
- The game aired on ESPN2, the first game on ESPN2 from the Reilly Center since February 2003. It was the Bonnies' second A-10 Friday Night Showcase appearance this season.
Stats Of The Game
On a night St. Bonaventure made just 38 percent of its shots, the Bonnies ended the game on a 10-2 run. Also, St. Bonaventure was opportunistic, scoring 18 points off 17 Rhode Island turnovers in the game.
Quotes From Coach Mark Schmidt
"What can I say? It was a tremendous crowd. They were one of the reasons we won. The community came out and supported us and our guys finished the game. It was a high-level game. It was really competitive and back-and-forth."
"We made some plays at the end. LaDarien made the dunk. We did a great job of contesting the last shot. We found a way. Like I said, Rhode Island is a terrific team, a well-coached team. They had won 22 straight Atlantic 10 games coming in on a 16-game winning streak and four our guys to come out and play like they did, I thought it was terrific."
"One of the keys to the game was points off turnovers, because if you turn the ball over they're going to go and get numbers. We outscore them by 11 (on points off turnovers). We hung in on the backboard. We took care of the basketball. We forced 17 turnovers. In the end, we made the plays we needed to make and got the stop we needed at the end to win it."
"I'm really proud. This is great for our program, for the school and for our community."
Up Next: St. Bonaventure will remain at home to host Duquesne on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:00. It will be the second meeting of the year between the teams.
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