Bonnies To Face Fordham Saturday In Alesco Advisors Roc City Hoops Classic

Game Preview: Fordham Rams

Game Date: Saturday, Jan. 12
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Rochester, N.Y. – Blue Cross Arena


Records:

St. Bonaventure 5-10 (1-1)   |    Fordham 9-6 (0-2)
Bonnies Stats        |         Rams Stats

Video: ESPN+  ($)
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Twitter: @BonniesMBB

Full Media Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP

St. Bonaventure hopes to keep momentum from Wednesday's win when it hosts Fordham in the Alesco Advisors Roc City Hoops Classic Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Now with their full roster completely healthy, the Bonnies aim to move above .500 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. This is the second time that St. Bonaventure and Fordham have met at Blue Cross Arena.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
• St. Bonaventure has won its last five games at Blue Cross Arena, including a dramatic buzzer-beater against Vermont last season. Overall, this will be the Bonnies' 26th game at BCA.
• Senior forward Courtney Stockard, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team, is averaging 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He missed the first six games of the year due to off-season knee surgery.
• Freshman Kyle Lofton, who has started every game at point guard, is second among all Atlantic 10 freshmen in scoring (13.8 ppg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (63/32). Lofton has been remarkably consistent with 13 games in double figure scoring.
• Like his classmate Lofton, center Osun Osunniyi has been impressive despite his inexperience. Osunniyi leads the Atlantic 10 in blocks and is the Bonnies' leading rebounder. Wednesday against Saint Joseph's, the 6-10 center had 10 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double this season. 

St. Bonaventure vs. Fordham: The Last Meeting
Jan. 10, 2018 at Reilly Center: Bonnies 77, Rams 61
Thanks in large part to LaDarien Griffin, St. Bonaventure used a dominating second half to pull away for a 77-61 win. The junior forward posted career highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds for his third career double-double. At halftime, the Bonnies held just a 34-31 lead. Griffin helped push the Bonnies ahead in the second half, scoring 15 points in the final 20 minutes. The Bonnies seized control with to a 14-2 run that ended with them ahead 55-39 at the 11:02 mark. Highlighting that stretch were two dunks by Griffin off feeds from Jaylen Adams and Courtney Stockard, respectively. St. Bonaventure's lead remained at around 15 points for the next eight minutes, eventually growing to 22 at 75-53 with 1:58 remaining. On a night when Adams was held to 10 points in just 23 minutes and Matt Mobley had only eight points, eight other Bonnies players cracked the scoring column in addition to Griffin. Stockard finished with 13 points. Idris Taqqee and Amadi Ikpeze scored six points apiece, while Nelson Kaputo had five points and six assists.

Fordham Notes
• The Rams dropped their first two Atlantic 10 games, falling at home to VCU (76-51) and at Duquesne (66-61).
• Like St. Bonaventure, Fordham has dealt with injuries, most notably to potential starters Prokop Slalina and Chris Austin, who are both out for the season.
• Nick Honor, a 5-10 guard, has been a surprise as he leads all A-10 freshmen in scoring at 16 points per game. Guards Antwon Portley (12.1) and Jalen Cobb (10.3) also average in double figures. Portley is second in the A-10 in three-point field goals with 2.5 made per game. Led by those three players, Fordham is a dangerous three-point shooting club, averaging 9.1 three-pointers per game at a 35 percent clip.
• Beyond that trio, no Ram averages more than 5.7 points per game.

Series History
This will be the 41st meeting between the Atlantic 10 rivals. St. Bonaventure leads the series 23-17 and has won the last five meetings with the Rams. On Jan. 14, 2017, they met at Blue Cross Arena with the Bonnies winning by 20 points.

The Bonnies At Blue Cross Arena
This year is St. Bonaventure's 26th game at Blue Cross Arena (previously known as the War Memorial). The Bonnies have won five in a row in Rochester, turning around some frustration of prior years. Last year, Matt Mobley drained a three-pointer as time expired to give the Bonnies a thrilling win over Vermont and Rochester native Anthony Lamb. The 2016 game was just as memorable, as Marcus Posley scored 47 points, the most by any Division I player that season, to lead the Bonnies to their 21st win of the season. In all, St. Bonaventure is 13-12 at Blue Cross Arena.

Full Roster Finally Healthy
It's hard to believe, but the Jan. 6 game at George Mason was the first time this season that all 11 of the Bonnies' scholarship players were available to play. A young team with just five scholarship players back from last season, Bonnies players have missed 35 games due to injuries: LaDarien Griffin (10 games), Melkisedek Moreaux (10), Dominick Welch (nine) and Courtney Stockard (six). The injuries have forced coach Mark Schmidt to use eight different starting lineups. Griffin was out from Nov. 8 until Dec. 21 due to a sprained knee; Stockard was out the first six games due to offseason knee surgery; Welch was out from Nov. 19 to Jan. 6 due to a bruised right foot, and Moreaux missed the first 10 games due to a hyperextended knee he sustained in preseason practice. In the second and third games of the Cayman Islands Classic, the Bonnies were only able to dress seven scholarship players. 

Stockard 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. He returned last year and had a breakout season in which he averaged 13.3 points. But, Stockard then had to undergo an 2018 offseason knee procedure which caused him to miss the first six games this season. Stockard returned to action Nov. 28 against Canisius and showed little rust, scoring a game-high 19 points. He has scored in double figures in eight of his nine games, averaging 16 points to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists while making 47 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's403 games in the lineup, the Bonnies are 28-12.

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. As he has become stronger, Griffin has become more productive, now up to 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the season. He had 19 points in the win over Saint Joseph's. 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 13.8 points per game with a team-leading 63 assists. He is second among Atlantic 10 freshmen in both scoring and assist-to-turnover ratio. Overall among all players, the Hillside, N.J., native ranks 14th in the A-10 in scoring, eighth in assists and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He also has been durable, and leads the A-10 in minutes played (37.1/game). Lofton 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. Lofton had a year of seasoning at Putnam Science Academy, where he ran the point for the national prep champions last year.

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. For the year, he is averaging 6.6 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game. Even while averaging just 23 minutes per game, he leads the A-10 and ranks 12th nationally in blocks at 2.3 per game (35 total). The school's freshman record for blocks in a season is 81 by Andrew Nicholson in 2008-09. Osunniyi has two double-doubles, most recently in the Bonnies' win over Saint Joseph's on Jan. 9, when he scored 10 points and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds. Osunniyi's progress is significant, as he only started playing seriously as a sophomore at Mainland Regional High in Pleasantville, N.J., when he grew from 6'1' to 6'8". 

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 8.6 points per game while connecting on 41 percent of his three-point shots. Kaputo ranks fourth in the A-10 in three-point percentage.

Welch Returns From Foot Injury
Yet another player who missed significant time due to an injury was freshman swingman Dominick Welch. The highly-regarded Buffalo native started the first four games of the year before he suffered a bruised foot that forced him to miss nine games from Nov. 20 to Jan. 6. He returned to action at George Mason. Welch made a pair of three-pointers in the win over Saint Joseph's, when he played 18 minutes. Prior to his injury, Welch averaged 7.0 points per game. 

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