St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Siena
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 at the Reilly Center, the Franciscan Cup will be on the line as St. Bonaventure hosts its sister Franciscan school Siena. Both clubs won their previous games and have 3-5 records. The Bonnies, winners of two straight, and are now closer to full strength with Courtney Stockard's return from injury last week.
• Senior forward Courtney Stockard made his season debut last week after missing the first six games due to offseason knee surgery. Stockard, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team, quickly shook off any rust, scoring a game-high 19 points against Canisius and then 16 against Delaware State. He is averaging 17.5 points and 4.5 assists per game.
• Stockard's return undoubtedly helped his teammates, most notably freshmen Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi. Lofton leads the Bonnies in assists and steals and is third in scoring, while Osunniyi leads the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots and is second on the team in rebounding.
• Over the last three games, senior guard Nelson Kaputo averaged 14 points per game and went 9-13 (.696) from trhee-point range. He is averaging 9.4 points per game coming off the bench.
• Even with Stockard back, the Bonnies still only have eight healthy scholarship players. Senior LaDarien Griffin (knee), freshman Dominick Welch (foot) and junior Melkisedek Moreaux (knee) are all out indefinitely. Griffin and Welch are both starters when healthy.
Series History/Franciscan Cup History
This will be the 41st meeting all-time between the Bonnies and Saints, with St. Bonaventure holding a 30-10 series lead. Since the Franciscan Cup competition began in 2010, the Bonnies have won five of the eight meetings including the past two.
St. Bonaventure vs. Siena: The Last Meeting
Nov. 29, 2017 at Times Union Center: Bonnies 75, Siena 55
Behind a stellar defensive effort and 40 points combined from Matt Mobley and LaDarien Griffin, St. Bonaventure rolled to a 75-55 win at Siena in the annual Franciscan Cup game. The Bonnies earned their fourth win of the season by limiting Siena to 34 percent shooting from the field, including a first half in which the Saints made only six of 25 shots (24 percent). The Brown and White seized control late in the first half thanks mainly to the defense. St. Bonaventure led 22-20 when Mobley drained a three-pointer and then Josh Ayeni worked inside for a score to give the Bonnies a seven-point cushion. Siena managed only three points over the final 5:09 before halftime, and the Bonnies extended their lead to 35-21. The second half began much in the way the first ended, as the Bonnies pushed their lead to 20 points less than four minutes in. From there, the Saints never came closer than 13 points. Mobley led all scorers with 22 points, going 4-8 from behind the arc and 6-7 at the free throw line. He added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Griffin posted his second career double-double with a career high 18 points and 10 rebounds, adding four assists.
• Under new coach Jamion Christian, the Saints have been competitive. They snapped a four-game losing skid last Saturday with a 67-64 home win over Harvard, which was picked to win the Ivy League. Even their losses have been fairly close, and they also have a road win at George Washington.
• Freshman guard Jalen Pickett, who is from Rochester's Aquinas Institute and played prep basketball with Bona's Dominick Welch, leads the Saints in scoring, assists, steals and is making 42 percent of his three-pointers. Siena may be without second-leading scorer Evan Fisher, who suffered an ankle injury against Harvard.
Stockard Returns And Picks Up Where He Left Off
Senior Courtney Stockard has endured much more than his fair share of setbacks since he got to St. Bonaventure. The St. Louis, Mo., native missed back-to-back seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17 with a broken foot. After a breakout season last year in which he averaged 13.3 points, Stockard then had to undergo an offseason knee procedure which caused him to miss the first six games this season. Stockard finally returned to action Nov. 28 against Canisius and showed little rust, scoring a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds and three assists. He added 16 points and six assists vs. Delaware State. That performance was similar to the way he ended last year. Stockard's last six games of the 2017-18 campaign were unforgettable. He set career highs in scoring twice and was instrumental in four wins, most notably with his 26 points against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
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 14.0 points per game so far with a team-leading 33 assists and 11 steals. He ranks 16th in the A-10 in scoring and eighth in assists. In a win over Canisius Nov. 28, Lofton scored 13 points and handed out nine assists without any turnovers. Lofton also 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.
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 five 20-plus point games in the first eight contests and leads the Bonnies in scoring at 16.5 points per game on 41 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.
Double-O Starting To Catch On
Freshman center Osun Osunniyi, who coach Mark Schmidt describes as "oozing with potential", is continuing to develop every practice and every game. He flashed some of that potential on Nov. 28 in a win over Canisius with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. For the year, he is averaging 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game (22 blocks total). He leads the A-10 in blocks. Osunniyi's progress is significant, as he only started playing the game seriously as a sophomore at Mainland Regional High in Pleasantville, N.J., when he grew from 6'1' to 6'8".
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. The 6-7 forward has started seven times and leads the team in rebounding (6.1 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 game, 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 three times and Osunniyi once. Lofton and Osunniyi were teammates on Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy's 2017-18 national prep champion team.
Kaputo Increases Scoring
Call him a patient man. After three years in the shadows of All-Conference point guard Jaylen Adams, senior Nelson Kaputo has earned a more significant role in his final season. Kaputo played in 84 games over his first three seasons but averaged just 12 minutes per game. Last season, Kaputo averaged 3.3 points and 1.1 assists per game in a reserve role. This season, he is averaging 9.4 points per game. Over the last three games, Kaputo averaged 14 points per game while going 9-13 (69 percent) from three-point range.
Schmidt Seven Behind Weise In Coaching Wins
Mark Schmidt stands second all-time on the program's all-time coaching wins list, just seven wins behind NCAA Final Four coach Larry Weise. Now in his 12th season, Schmidt has 195 wins at St. Bonaventure while Weise coached Bona to 202 wins.
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