Road Test Awaits St. Bonaventure In Rhode Island Wednesday

Road Test Awaits St. Bonaventure In Rhode Island Wednesday

Game Preview: Rhode Island Rams

Game Date:
 Wednesday, Jan. 16
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Kingston, R.I. – Ryan Center

Records:

St. Bonaventure 6-10 (2-1)   |    Rhode Island 8-7 (1-2)
Bonnies Stats        |         Rams Stats

TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease
Twitter: @BonniesMBB

Full Media Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP

St. Bonaventure hopes the momentum of last week can carry over when it visits Rhode Island for its only meeting with the Rams this season. The teams both feature new faces alongside some veterans who were part of two head-to-head matchups last year.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
• Since moving into the starting lineup last week, freshman center Osun Osunniyi is playing the best basketball of his young career. He was named the A-10's Rookie of the Week after averaging 13 points and 12 rebounds per game in wins over Saint Joseph's and Fordham. Osunniyi leads the A-10 and ranks 21st nationally in blocked shots (2.4 per game).
• Senior forward LaDarien Griffin averaged 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the Bonnies' two wins last week. He had missed 10 games with a knee sprain between Nov. 8 and Dec. 21, but has worked his way back into preseason form.
• Senior forward Courtney Stockard, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team, is averaging 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He missed the first six games of the year due to off-season knee surgery, but his return has infused his teammates with confidence.
• Freshman Kyle Lofton, who has started every game at point guard, is second among all Atlantic 10 freshmen in scoring (13.7 ppg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (66/33). Lofton has been remarkably consistent with 14 games in double figure scoring. 

St. Bonaventure vs. Rhode Island: The Last Meeting
Feb. 16, 2018 at Reilly Center: Bonnies 77, Rams 74
In a game that exceeded its considerable hype, St. Bonaventure got a signature win and snapped the nation's longest win streak with a 77-74 decision over No. 14/16 Rhode Island. Junior forward LaDarien Griffin was the late-game hero, scoring the go-ahead bucket on a dunk off a Jaylen Adams feed with 21 seconds left that put St. Bonaventure in front 75-74. Rhode Island guard Jeff Dowtin was fouled by Adams but he missed the front end of a one-and-one. Matt Mobley secured the rebound and was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. He made one of two at the free throw line to make it a 76-74 Bonnies lead. Jared Terrell drove the right side of the lane in an attempt to tie the game but Griffin altered his shot and it bounced off the rim. Mobley grabbed yet another crucial rebound and was again sent to the free throw line, where he again made one of two shots, this time with four seconds left. A desperation shot by Terrell missed.
The win carried more than its share of positive implications for St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies' 20th win of the season snapped Rhode Island's 16-game win streak and moved St. Bonaventure's own winning streak to eight games, tying its season best. It also was the Bonnies' fifth consecutive win over a ranked opponent and gave them a needed resume' boost in the final weeks of the regular season.

URI Notes
• The Rams dropped to 1-2 in the A-10 with a 84-67 home loss to George Mason on Sunday. Rhode Island previously topped Richmond on the road (78-67) and lost at Saint Louis (60-53).The Rams are 4-2 at the Ryan Center this season.
• Like St. Bonaventure, the Rams lost a good chunk of their scoring and leadership from last year, and thus have had to rely on new players. They also have a first-year coach in David Cox, who was an assistant under former coach Danny Hurley.
• Junior point guard Jeff Dowtin, a returning starter from last year's NCAA Tournament team, leads the Rams in scoring (16.7 ppg) and assists (63). His backcourt partner Fatts Russell averages 14.4 points per game. Junior center Cyril Langevine is the top rebounder in the A-10 (10.1 per game) and averaged 13.7 points. Rhode Island is last in the A-10 in three-point field goal percentage at .260. The Rams were 3-25 from deep against George Mason. 

Series History
This will be the 70th meeting between the Atlantic 10 rivals. Rhode Island holds a 41-28 series lead. The teams split two games last year, each winning on their home court. The Bonnies are 2-9 all-time at Ryan Center.

Full Roster Finally Healthy
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.

Schmidt No. 2 On Bona Coaching Wins List
Mark Schmidt stands second all-time on the program's all-time coaching wins list, just four wins behind NCAA Final Four coach Larry Weise. Now in his 12th season, he has 198 wins at St. Bonaventure. Schmidt, Weise and Jim Satalin are the only St. Bonaventure coaches with over 150 wins. Schmidt is the third-longest tenured coach in the Atlantic 10 behind Saint Joseph's Phil Martelli (now in his 23rd season) and Richmond's Chris Mooney (13th).

Osunniyi Named A-10 Rookie of Week
After helping St. Bonaventure to a pair of wins, freshman center Osun Osunniyi was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week for the week ending Jan. 13. Osunniyi posted double-doubles in wins over Saint Joseph's and Fordham last week.  He averaged 13.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocked shots and 2.5 assists per game over those games, and made 68 percent of his shots from the field (11-16). In the Bonnies' Jan. 9 home win over Saint Joseph's, Osunniyi scored 10 points and set a season high with 11 rebounds.  Jan. 12, Osunniyi bettered his season high in scoring with 16 points to go with 12 rebounds, three blocks and three assists in St. Bonaventure's win over Fordham at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Osunniyi's performances helped the Bonnies improve to 2-1 in the A-10 and 6-10 overall.  For the season, the Pleasantville, N.J., native is averaging 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. He leads all Atlantic 10 players in blocked shots. 

Griffin Regaining His Form
St. Bonaventure had to play without 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. Understandably, it took him some to regain his form. Over his first three games after returning, Griffin averaged just 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. But in last week's wins over Saint Joseph's and Fordham, Griffin averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds while converting 61 percent from the field. Those two games pushed his season averages up to 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior.

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 nine of his 10 games, averaging 16 points to go along with 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists while making 46 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 41 games in the lineup, the Bonnies are 29-12. 

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 13.7 points per game with a team-leading 66 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 15th in the A-10 in scoring, eighth in assists and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He also has been durable, leading the A-10 in minutes played (37.3/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 7.2 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. Even while averaging just 23.7 minutes per game, he leads the A-10 and ranks 21st nationally in blocks at 2.3 per game (38 total). The school's freshman record for blocks in a season is 81 by Andrew Nicholson in 2008-09. Osunniyi has three double-doubles. 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; Reaches 100 Games Milestone
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 8.3 points per game while connecting on 41 percent of his three-point shots. Kaputo ranks fourth in the A-10 in three-point percentage. The Jan. 12 win over Fordham was the 100th game of Kaputo's career. He is one of only 49 Bonnies players to reach 100 career games played.

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