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Island-Bound: Bonnies To Open Cayman Classic Against Georgia State

St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Georgia State / Cayman Islands Classic

Game Date: Monday, Nov. 19
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Location: John Gray Gymnasium, Grand Cayman

Records:

St. Bonaventure 1-2   |   Georgia State 2-1

Video (Facebook via Stadium)
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease
Twitter: @BonniesMBB
Cayman Islands Classic web site with bracket

Full Media Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP

Warm weather and competitive basketball await the Bonnies as they travel to Grand Cayman for the Cayman Islands Classic Nov. 19-21.

WHERE TO WATCH
All games in the Cayman Islands Classic will be streamed for free by Stadium on its Facebook page. Click on this video link or check the Bonnies schedule page for game broadcast links.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
• St. Bonaventure enters the tournament expecting to have less than its full complement of players. Senior forward LaDarien Griffin, who suffered a knee injury in the Bucknell game, and senior forward Courtney Stockard are questionable. Stockard is still recovering from an off-season knee procedure. Junior Melkisedek Moreaux, who is recovering from a hyperextension to his knee, is day-to-day. If none of those three are able to play, the Bonnies will have just eight scholarship players available.
• In stark contrast to last year's very experienced team, this year's team has five players who have not played Division I basketball before this season -- four freshmen and Moreaux. The four freshmen are combining to average 32 points per game.
• UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser began his St. Bonaventure career strong, with back-to-back games of 20-plus points entering the Cayman Classic. He leads the Bonnies at 19.0 points per game.

Series History:
This will be the first meeting between the teams. St. Bonaventure does have familiarity with one Georgia State player, senior forward Jordan Tyson. Tyson was at St. Bonaventure for two years (2014-16) before transfering.

Georgia State Notes:
• The Panthers won two of their first three games this season, defeating East Tennessee State and Mercer at home but falling on the road to Montana.
• Georgia State was the unanimous choice to repeat as Sun Belt Conference champion in the preseason SBC poll. Junior guard D'Marcus Simonds, who was named Sun Belt Player of the Year last season, was chosen preseason Player of the Year for 2018-19 as well. Simonds averaged 21 points per game as a sophomore and enters the Cayman Classic at 22.3 points per game. Small forward Jeff Thomas scored 30 points against Mercer and is averaging 19.3 points per game.
• Under coach Ron Hunter, Georgia State has made the NCAA Tournament two of the last four seasons. Well-known for their three-point shooting, this season is no different as the Panthers are averaging 10 three-pointers per game at a 38 percent clip.

Recent In-Season Tournament History
The Bonnies have played in three in-season, warm-weather tournaments in the last six years.
• Last season, St. Bonaventure went 1-1 in the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla., topping Maryland before falling to TCU.
• In 2016, St. Bonaventure played in the Lone Star Showcase in Austin, Texas, and went 2-1. The Bonnies lost to Arkansas-Little Rock in the opener but came back with convincing wins over Central Michigan and Pepperdine.
• In 2013, the Bonnies played in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, where they reached the championship game but fell to Louisiana Tech.

Poyser Starts Bona Career Well
The Bonnies' graduation losses are well-documented, meaning there is a clear opportunity, and likely a need, for new players to contribute right away. Junior guard Jalen Poyser, who sat out last season after transferring from UNLV, is one of the most ready to do just that. A top-100 recruit coming out of high school at Orangeville Prep in Toronto, Poyser averaged 10.4 points per game as a sophomore at UNLV. He began his St. Bonaventure career with 13 points against Bucknell, then scored a career high 23 points in the win over Jackson State Nov. 10 and 21 points at Niagara. The 6-4 shooting guard tops the Bonnies in scoring at 19.0 points per game, which is good for eighth among Atlantic 10 players.

Freshmen Make Early Impact
Of the six new players on the Bonnies' roster this season, four are freshmen: guards Kyle Lofton, Alpha Okoli and Dominick Welch and center Osun Osunniyi. All four have already earned significant playing time. Osunniyi has blocked 12 shots in three games and is averaging 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. Lofton is the Bonnies' second-leading scorer at 13.7 points per game and has 11 assists. Welch, like Lofton, has started every game thus far and is averaging 8.3 points per game. 

Ngalakulondi Makes First Starts
Like many St. Bonaventure players, Tshiefu Ngalakulondi saw limited action last year as a freshman. He played in 18 games and averaged 2.3 points per contest. This season, with a year of experience, Ngalakulondi is taking on a much larger role. At 6-7, 220 lbs. he has the size to play in the paint, while he also has shown a shooting range from deep, connecting on five three-pointers last season. He made the first start of his career Nov. 10 against Jackson State, scoring four points, then recorded the first double-double of his career on Nov. 12 at Niagara with 14 points and 13 rebounds. 

Second Round
The Bonnies will play either Creighton or Boise State Nov. 20 in the second round. The remainder of the very strong Cayman Classic field is Clemson, Georgia, Akron, and Illinois State.

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