St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Syracuse
Game Date: Saturday, Dec. 29
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Syracuse, N.Y. – Carrier Dome
St. Bonaventure 4-8 | Syracuse 8-4
Bonnies Stats | SU Stats
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease & Don Scholla
Full Media Game Notes (PDF)
St. Bonaventure completes its non-conference schedule with a marquee opponent, going on the road to the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse for the second straight year. Coming off the Christmas break, the Bonnies hope to snap a three-game losing skid. Only five scholarship players remain on the roster who were part of St. Bonaventure's overtime win in the Dome last December.
• Senior forward Courtney Stockard, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team, returned after missing the first six games of the year and is averaging 19 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Stockard has made 56 percent of his shots from the field.
• Already a young team, the Bonnies have also been injury-riddled. All told, players have missed 34 games: LaDarien Griffin (10 games), Melkisedek Moreaux (10), Stockard (six) and Dominick Welch (eight). The injuries have forced coach Mark Schmidt to use five different starting lineups.
• Freshmen Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi are key players in their first seasons. Lofton, who scored a season-high 23 points at Vermont, leads the Bonnies in assists and steals and is third in scoring, while Osunniyi leads the Atlantic 10 in blocks and is third on the team in rebounding.
• Over his last six games, senior guard Nelson Kaputo went 17-26 (.653) from three-point range. He ranks third in the A-10 in three-point field goal percentage (.465).
• The Bonnies stand fourth in the A-10 in field goal percentage defense (.410).
• The Orange dropped back-to-back home games to Old Dominion and Buffalo before topping Arkansas State on Dec. 22, moving their record to 8-4. The game with the Bonnies will be Syracuse's seventh straight home contest and 10th of the year. The Orange are 7-2 at the Carrier Dome.
• Syracuse features three double-digit scorers, Tyus Battle (17.8 points per game), Elijah Hughes (14.7) and Oshae Brissett (14.5). The Orange have not shot the ball well from behind the three-point line, now at 29 percent overall. Hughes has made 27 three-pointers and shoots 34 percent.
St. Bonaventure vs. Syracuse: The Last Meeting
Dec. 22, 2017 at Carrier Dome: Bonnies 60, Orange 57 (OT)
The Bonnies earned their first win ever in the Carrier Dome and first win over Syracuse since 1981. It was the Bonnies' seventh consecutive win and gave them a 10-2 record. On a night decided by defense, a charge drawn by Courtney Stockard and a blocked three-pointer by LaDarien Griffin were decisive. With the Bonnies clinging to a 58-57 lead, Stockard stepped in front of a driving Oshae Brissett and got the call with 12 seconds left. After the Orange fouled Jaylen Adams, he made two free throws to push the lead to 60-57. Griffin then blocked a potential game-tying shot by Howard Washington with six seconds remaining in the overtime. The Bonnies led by seven at halftime and pushed their advantage to as many as 13 points in the second half, going up 49-36 on the strength of a 9-0 run. It was a 51-38 game with 11:45 left when Syracuse rallied. St. Bonaventure got a dunk by Amadi Ikpeze with 7:17 left in regulation that made it a 53-44 score, but, incredibly, that was the last field goal scored by the visitors the whole night. It took until the 1:18 mark but the Orange eventually tied the game at 53 on a three-point play by center Paschal Chukwu. The Bonnies had two three-pointers miss the mark, then got a defensive stand in the final 10 seconds to send the game into overtime. In overtime, the Orange struck first, but Stockard made one free throw with 3:16 left, then added a pair at the line to put St. Bonaventure up 56-55 at the 2:48 mark. Two more Stockard free throws with 2:24 left pushed the Bonnies ahead 58-55. Brissett scored in the lane to again make it a one-point game with 1:08 remaining to make it 58-57, setting the stage for the closing minute.
Adams was spectacular in the first half, scoring 21 of his game-high 23 points. He was 4-5 from three-point range in the first 20 minutes. Adams also grabbed nine rebounds and had two assists. He was the only Bonnies player to reach double figures. Griffin ended with nine points while Idris Taqqee and Mobley each scored eight.
This will be the 29th meeting between the schools. Syracuse leads the series 24-4, but St. Bonaventure won last season in the Carrier Dome to snap a 14-game skid to the Orange. Fifteen times that the teams have played, Syracuse has been nationally ranked.
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. He has scored in double figures in all six of his games since returning, averaging 19.0 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists while making nearly 51 percent of his shots overall. Stockard really has picked up where he left off last year, as his last six games of 2017-18 were unforgettable. He averaged 22 points and 7.5 rebounds over those six games, setting career highs in scoring twice. Stockard was instrumental in four wins, most notably with his 26 points against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. Over Stockard's 37 games in the lineup, the Bonnies are 27-10.
Griffin Returns After 10 Games
St. Bonaventure also had to play without another one of its senior leaders for a long stretch this season as senior forward LaDarien Griffin was sidelined 10 games by a sprained knee. He suffered the injury in the Nov. 7 season opener against Bucknell. Griffin, who was named the Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player in 2017-18, returned to action Dec. 21 at Northeastern, logging 30 minutes and recording three points, one rebound and two steals in 26 minutes. Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior.
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 13.9 points per game with a team-leading 48 assists. He ranks 18th in the A-10 in scoring and seventh in assists. He scored a season best 23 points in a double-OT loss at Vermont, including a clutch drive that forced the second overtime period. 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 seasoning at Putnam Science Academy, where he ran the point for the national prep champions last year.
Kaputo Off To Solid Start To Senior Season
Call him a patient man. After three years in the shadows of All-Conference point guard Jaylen Adams, senior Nelson Kaputo has now 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 per game in a reserve role. This season, he is up to 9.3 points per game while connecting on 46 percent of his three-point shots. Over the last seven games, Kaputo was 17-26 (63 percent) from three-point range. He scored in double figures four of those games topped by a career high 21 points against Siena. Kaputo ranks third in the A-10 in three-point percentage.
Poyser Starts Bona Career Strong
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 12 contests. He is second on the team and 14th in the A-10 in scoring at 14.4 points per game. 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 6.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game (31 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".
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