Bonnies Hope To Keep Momentum When La Salle Visits Wednesday

Game Preview: La Salle

Game Date: Wednesday, Feb. 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Reilly Center

Records:

St. Bonaventure 11-14 (7-5)   |     La Salle 8-16 (6-6)
Bonnies Stats       |       La Salle Stats

TV: Stadium Network
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Twitter: @BonniesMBB

Full Media Game Notes (PDF) 

Bonnies GameDay Central

OPENING TIP
Winner of three of its last four games and five out of seven, St. Bonaventure hopes to extend its upward trajectory when it hosts La Salle Wednesday in the teams' only meeting this season. Now two-thirds of the way through the A-10 schedule, the Bonnies are in seventh place at 7-5, one game ahead of La Salle.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
• Mark Schmidt is now St. Bonaventure's all-time coaching wins leader with 203. He broke Larry Weise's record of 202, which had stood since 1973, with Sunday's win over George Mason.
• The Bonnies have held three of their last four opponents under 57 points and 38 percent from the field. St. Bonaventure is allowing 64 points per game in A-10 play, third best in the conference.
• An A-10 Rookie of the Year candidate, Kyle Lofton is second among all Atlantic 10 freshmen in scoring (14.9 ppg) and leads all A-10 players in minutes. He was named A-10 Rookie of the Week after averaging 20 points per game over two wins last week, capped by a career high 32 point outing against George Mason in which he went 7-8 from three-point range. 
• Another All-Rookie team candidate, freshman center Osun Osunniyi, leads the A-10 in blocks (2.5 per game) and is averaging 8.1 rebounds per game in conference action.
• Multi-talented senior guard/forward Courtney Stockard ranks seventh in the A-10 in scoring, 11th in rebounding and 15th in assists. He has played three different positions (2-3-4) this year.
• Fellow senior forward LaDarien Griffin has also helped spark the Bonnies, averaging 11 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle: The Last Meeting
Feb. 13, 2018 at Tom Gola Arena: Bonnies 79, Explorers 68
Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley combined for 56 points to lead St. Bonaventure to its seventh straight win. The win improved the Bonnies to 19-6 overall and 9-4 in the Atlantic 10. Mobley scored 30 points and Adams totaled 26 as the pair was lethal, going 9-for-17 from three-point range together. Bona's offense again clicked into high gear as the team shot over 53 percent (30-for-56) from the floor including 10-for-20 from distance with Adams and Mobley combining for nine of those treys and freshman Izaiah Brockington adding a 10th. The Bonnies outrebounded the Explorers by a 34-26 margin and also dominated the paint, outscoring the hosts inside by a 36-18 margin. 

La Salle Notes
• After a struggling to a 2-10 record in non-conference games, the Explorers have been a surprise in A-10 play, earning a 6-6 record thus far. That included a four-game win streak with wins over Fordham, UMass, Richmond and Saint Joseph's. La Salle's last game was a 62-49 loss at Saint Louis on Feb. 16. New coach Ashley Howard previously was an assistant on the staff at Villanova, where he helped them to two national championships.
• Senior point guard Pookie Powell leads his team in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Guards Isiah Deas and Saul Phiri both average 11.6 points per outing. In A-10 play, Phiri has made 46 percent of his three-point shots.  Forward Ed Croswell is the Explorers' leading rebounder at 6.6 per game.

Series History
This will be the 33rd meeting in a series that La Salle leads 17-15. The Bonnies have won the last two meetings, including a 79-68 decision in Philadelphia last year. 

Improving Defense
Coach Mark Schmidt often talks about hoping to see his team improve through conference play, at that has been the case this season, perhaps most notably on the defensive end. The Bonnies have now held six of their 12 Atlantic 10 opponents under 60 points. A look at some of the Bonnies' defensive ranks in A-10 games:
Category                   Avg./#        A-10 Rank
Scoring defense        63.9 ppg      3rd
Opp. FG Pct.              .417            5th
Rebound Margin        +2.4            4th
Blocked Shots           4.3              4th
Defensive Reb. %      .753            2nd

Rookie of Year Contender Lofton Is Impactful Point Guard
Freshman Kyle Lofton continues to build a case for A-10 Rookie of the Year. One of the most consistent, impactful freshmen in the conference, he is now a two-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week. Lofton earned his second such accolades for the week ending Feb. 17 after he scored a career high 32 points with seven assists in a win over third place George Mason. Lofton has taken on the Bonnies' 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 14.9 points per game with a team-leading 94 assists. He is second among Atlantic 10 freshmen in scoring (behind only Nick Honor) and is third in assists as well as assist-to-turnover ratio. Overall among all players, the Hillside, N.J., native ranks 12th in the A-10 in scoring, 10th in assists, eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio, 10th in free throw percentage (.813) and 14th in steals (1.3). He also has been an ironman, leading the A-10 in minutes played. In fact, Lofton has played every minute in six of the past 10 games. Remarkably consistent, Lofton has scored in double figures in 21 of 25 games with six games of 20-plus points. He has also been a key to the Bonnies' defense which is allowing 64 points per game to Atlantic 10 teams.

Stockard Shows Versatility And Value
Senior Courtney Stockard underwent a knee procedure which caused him to miss the first six games this season. The Bonnies went 1-5 over those six games. But he has returned and is again showing why he is one of the most versatile, talented players in the A-10. Capable of playing -- and guarding -- at least three positions, Stockard is now seventh in the A-10 in scoring (16.4), 11th in rebounding (6.6) and 15th in assists (3.2). He has 17 games in double figure scoring topped by a career high 36 points against Dayton. Last year, Stockard averaged 13.3 points. Over Stockard's 50 career games in the lineup, the Bonnies are 33-17.

Griffin Playing Like A Senior
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 since Atlantic 10 play started, he has averaged 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds while converting 51 percent of his shots from the field. That stretch elevated his season averages up to 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior.

Double-O Catches 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 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game with four double-doubles. He is making 55 percent of his shots. Even while averaging just 25 minutes per game, he leads the A-10 and ranks 13th nationally in blocks at 2.5 per game (62 total). Three of Osunniyi's double-doubles have been in A-10 play, including when he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week for the week ending Jan. 13. 

Welch Returns, Gives Scoring Boost
Yet another player who missed significant time due to an injury was freshman swingman Dominick Welch. Now fully healthy, he has started to produce consistently. 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. Welch now has five A-10 games in double figure scoring including three of the last four.

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