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Auburn Routes St. Bonaventure in Championship Game

Auburn beat St. Bonaventure 77-60 tonight. In a whistle-filled game, the Bonnies were unable to find their footing until it was too late. Both Chad Venning and Noel Brown fouled out of the game, causing head coach Mark Schmidt to go small for the final four minutes. Three-points shooting played a major factor in tonight’s game. Johni Broom led all scorers with 18 points while Venning’s 14 points in only 18 minutes led St. Bonaventure.

The Bonnies opened the scoring tonight as Venning went to work in the post, earning a left-handed layup. Auburn center Johni Broome would counter only 15 seconds later with a lay-in of his own. Venning added a hook at 19:02 and the scoring was off and running just a minute in. The Bonnie center picked up two fouls in the first 2:48 into the game, prompting the Tigers to rip off a 9-0 run, taking a 15-6 lead.

The teams began trading buckets following the Auburn run with St. Bonaventure chipping away at the Tiger lead. With Auburn leading 22-17, the scoring went quiet until the Tigers went on another 8-0 run to extend their lead to 12. Barry Evans ended the run with a layup before Banks knocked down a pair of free throws to pull St. Bonaventure back to within nine. Just as fast as the Bonnies caught their breath, Auburn scored six more in less than a minute. The lead had now ballooned to 14.

Bonaventure once again tried to pick themselves up off the mat as Venning and Assa scored but were immediately answered by an Aden Holloway deep three and a Broome layup. It was more of the same to end the half as Flowers knocked one in from beyond the arc and was answered by a Chad Baker-Mazara three and Jaylin Williams emphatic dunk before Denver Jones potted a wide-open triple to end the half. Auburn led the Bonnies by 20 after 20 minutes.

Johni Broome’s 13 points led all scorers at the half while Denver Jones’ nine points and Aden Holloway’s eight points were the next two highest on both Auburn and in the game. The Bonnies were led in scoring by Venning and Noel Brown who had potted six points each. Assa had five points, and the only Bonnie three pointer, at the half. Auburn shot 54.8% from the field in the first half including 7/14 from beyond the arc. St. Bonaventure shot 41.4% from the field while only making one three on 10 attempts. The Bonnies also turned the ball over 11 times in the first 20 minutes.

Venning made his impact felt early in the second half on both sides of the floor. He found four more points and played solid defense in the opening minutes of the half. However, the second half kept the same trends as the first. Every time St. Bonaventure appeared to get some momentum, Auburn snuffed it out and then punched back harder. This time, the Bonnies cut the lead down from 21 to 17. The Tigers immediately responded with a Jones three to push the advantage back to 20.

The Bonnies began chipping away at the under-16 media timeout. Moses Flowers knocked down a mid-range and a three pointer to cut the Tiger lead back to 15. Once again Auburn responded with a Johnson jumper and Willaims and-one layup to push the lead back to 18. Charles Pride finally got himself onto the score sheet halfway through the second half as he laid one in and knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the lead down to 16. Unsurprisingly, Auburn responded with a Broome slam and free throw.

Barry Evans showed more flashes of becoming a more complete player as he grabbed a defensive board on one end, an offensive board on the other and then earned a trip to the free throw line. He made one of two. Venning then fouled out for the second straight night with 6:07 left in the second half. The center’s departure came during St. Bonaventure putting together its largest comeback attempt of the night. The Bonnies went on a 7-2 run to cut the lead down to 13 with just under five minutes remaining.

Adams-Woods knocked down a pair of free throws and the Bonnies brought out a press following the under-four media timeout. Bonaventure cut the lead to 11 before the Tigers broke the press and Johnson laid one in. Noel Brown would foul out on the next trip down the floor leaving the Bonnies without either of their top two centers. The final 2:30 saw Auburn making nearly every free throw attempted, keeping the lead above 11. The Tigers cruised to the Legends Classic Championship with a 17-point victory.

Auburn was better than St. Bonaventure in nearly every metric tonight. The Tigers had a 48.1% field goal percentage compared to Bonaventure’s 39.7%. Auburn was 8/24 from beyond the arc while the Bonnies shot 3/24 for a 12.5% clip from three. The Tigers made eight more free throws (19-11) and grabbed two more rebounds (34-32) than the Bonnies while assisting on eight more baskets (20-12). The only stats Bonaventure led were turnovers (16-13) and fouls given (20-17).

Venning was noticeable when on the floor as he scored his team-leading 14 points in only 18 minutes. However, the red-shirt junior turned the ball over five times and fouled out for the second straight night. The three-point shooting has become a serious issue for the Bonnies as well. Bonaventure is a combined 13/63 or 20.6% from deep over their last three games (1-2 record). The guard-heavy team Schmidt has put together needs to shoot better from beyond the arc while its bigs stay out of foul trouble.

The Bonnies will be back in action at home Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. as Bucknell visits the Reilly Center.


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