St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Canisius
Video: ESPN+ ($) with Ben Wagner and Joe Ceraulo
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Full Media Game Notes (PDF)
Wednesday night, St. Bonaventure returns home for the first time since Nov. 10 to face its oldest rival, Canisius. The Bonnies and Griffs played in tournaments last week and both went 0-3 in their respective events.
• Injuries have played havoc with the Bonnies' rotation and lineups this season. St. Bonaventure hopes to soon have senior Courtney Stockard back in the lineup. Stockard, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team, had offseason knee surgery and has not played yet. Senior LaDarien Griffin and freshman Dominick Welch, also starters, are both out indefinitely. Junior Melkisedek Moreaux has yet to play this season due to a hyperextended knee. The four injuries left the Bonnies with only seven scholarship players in final two games of the Cayman Classic.
• In stark contrast to last year's very experienced team, this year's team has five players who had not played Division I basketball before this season -- four true freshmen and Moreaux.
• Junior guard Jalen Poyser was named to the Cayman Islands Classic All-Tournament team after averaging 16.3 points per game in the event. Poyser went 9-19 from three-point range over the three games. He leads the Bonnies in scoring this season at 17.7 points per game.
• Freshman point guard Kyle Lofton also was a bright spot in the Cayman Islands, averaging 15.3 points per game while playing 112 of a possible 120 minutes over three games.
St. Bonaventure holds a 100-66 advantage in the series and has won four of the last five meetings, includng last year's contest in Buffalo. The Bonnies have played Canisius more than any other opponent, and schools have played at least once per season every year since 1947.
St. Bonaventure vs. Canisius: The Last Meeting
Dec. 6, 2017 at Koessler Center: Bonnies 73, Canisius 65
St. Bonaventure prevailed in a game that was hotly contested until the final minute. Playing in his second game of the season, senior point guard Jaylen Adams led the Bonnies to their third straight road win with 20 points and nine assists. LaDarien Griffin helped stake the Bonnies to an 11-point lead in the first half, but Canisius made it a two-point game at halftime thanks mainly to the shooting of Isaiah Reese, who scored 18 points in the first half alone. It was a three-point game early in the second half when St. Bonaventure threatened to pull away, using a 9-0 run to open at 55-43 lead with 13:26 remaining. Adams capped the run with his second three-pointer of the game. Canisius responded with a 10-2 surge to pull back to within 57-53 with 9:37 left. Adams ended the Griffs' run with another three to make it 60-53.
• The Griffs fell to 1-5 with a 68-58 loss to UAB on Sunday in the Advocare Invitational in Florida. Canisius spent all of last week in Florida, losing to #13/14 Florida State 91-63 in Tallahassee on Nov. 19, then dropping contests to defending national champion Villanova (83-56) and Memphis (71-63) as part of the Advocare Invitational. Canisius beat Bucknell on the road 82-73 and lost at home to Albany 75-66.
• Guard Takal Molson, a preseason All-MAAC selection, leads the Griffs in scoring at 17.8 points per game followed by junior guard Isaiah Reese at 12.5 ppg. Reese was named the MAAC's preseason Player of the Year. Malik Johnson is averaging 9.3 ppg.
Poyser Starts Bona Career Well; Named To All-Tournament Team
Junior guard Jalen Poyser, who sat out last season after transferring from UNLV, has already proven to be ready to take on a leadership role. 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 has begun his St. Bonaventure career with four 20-plus point games in the first six contests and leads the Bonnies in scoring at 17.7 points per game on 42 percent shooting overall. Poyser was named to the Cayman Islands Classic All-Tournament team after he averaged 16.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game over three games. He tied his career high with 23 points against Georgia State.
Freshman Lofton Impresses
Freshman Kyle Lofton has taken on the point guard role from day one this season, filling the large shoes of Jaylen Adams. Lofton has shown he is up to the task, averaging 14.5 points per game so far with a team-leading 21 assists and nine steals. He ranks 14th in the A-10 in scoring. Lofton was impressive in the Cayman Islands Classic, averaging 15.3 points per game while playing 112 of a possible 120 minutes over three games. The Hillside, N.J., native had a year of prep school seasoning at Putnam Science Academy, where he ran the point for the national prep champions last year.
Ngalakulondi Moves Into Starting Lineup
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. He has started five of the Bonnies' six games and leads the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg). He also has recorded the first two double-doubles of his career, most recently 11 points and 12 rebounds against Akron. Ngalakulondi had a career high 14 rebounds at Niagara.
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. Lofton has started every games, Welch has started four times (he is now out indefinitely with a foot injury) and is averaging 7.0 points per game, Okoli has started twice and Osunniyi once. Osunniyi is averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game with 15 blocked shots. He ranks second in the A-10 in blocks. Lofton and Osunniyi were teammates on Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy's 2017-18 national prep champion team.
Kaputo Ready When Called
Call him a patient man. After three years in the shadows of All-Conference point guard Jaylen Adams, senior Nelson Kaputo has the opportunity to play a much more significant role in his final season with the Brown and White. Kaputo played in 84 games over his first three seasons but averaged just 12 minutes per game. He's shown a deft shooting touch with a 36 percent career shooting percentage from three-point range. Last season, Kaputo averaged 3.3 points and 1.1 assists per game in a reserve role. This season, he is averaging 7.8 points per game through six contests.
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