Photo by Dan Nelligan
St. Bonaventure defeated the University of Massachusetts 79-73 in a back-and-forth affair this evening. The Bonnies were led by Charles Pride’s 19 points along with three other scorers in double figures. The Minutemen were led by Matt Cross’ 19 points while also having three other scorers with at least 10 points each. The physical game was nothing short of a thriller with the Bonnies only leading in the opening four and closing six minutes of the game.
The Bonnies came out of the gate converting on each of their first three possessions. Chad Venning grabbed a pair of easy buckets before Mika Adams-Woods cashed in a straight-away three. It was a quick 7-0 run to open the game for St. Bonaventure. Rahsool Diggins found the scoresheet first for UMass with a layup 2:24 into the game before Keon Thompson did the same soon after. Charles Pride and Matt Cross both got involved offensively next as the players traded twos. Cross then added a hook shot as the game hit its first media timeout with the Bonnies leading 9-8.
Assa Essamvous made a pair of free throws following the television break before Diggins did the same on the ensuing possession. The Minutemen took their first lead of the game as Jaylen Curry splashed a midrange jumper. Daniel Hankins-Sanford then made the first UMass three of the evening before Thompson flushed a dunk. UMass had opened both a 9-0 and 17-4 run to take a 17-11 lead as the first half moved under 11 minutes to play. Robert Davis Jr. and the Minutemen continued to pile on as he made a triple to push to run to 12-0 and 20-4.
Mika Adams-Woods finally broke the Bonaventure scoring drought as he worked his way inside with a and-one layup. He completed the three-point play and ended the 4:13 drought and Minutemen run. Venning would score following a defensive stop before Cross made his first three of the game. The pace continued to slow as UMass led 23-16. Ndjigue would work his way to the line and made both foul shots before Venning was fouled but only made one of his two free throws. Ndjigue would then continue to score in close with an easy put-back layup. The Minutemen now led by 10.
UMass was not done there as Hankins-Sanford grabbed a fast-break layup. Venning once again would go one of two from the line while Ndjigue struck yet again with a floater. The whistles continued as Flowers was next to go to the line. He sank both before Pride was fouled. The redshirt senior made one of two free throws before Thompson drained a triple soon after. Flowers then put back a dunk to cut the UMass lead to 11 with just under four minutes to play in the first.
The Bonnies scored out of the final media timeout of the half as Pride went high off the glass for two. Flowers followed that with a pair of quick threes which put Bonas on an 8-0 run. That prompted Frank Martin to use his first timeout of the game with his lead slashed to just three points. Cross responded for the Minutemen out of that timeout as he worked in tight and found a bucket. Next it was Thompson finding the bottom of the cup with a layup. UMass had repadded their lead to seven with just under a minute left in the half. The Bonnies would strike last in the half as Banks beat the buzzer with a step-back three. UMass led 38-34 at the break.
Flowers led all scorers at the half with 10 points while Cross and Thompson totaled nine each. Venning added eight points in the first 20 minutes while both Ndjigue and Adams-Woods tallied six. The Minutemen shot 15/31 (48.4%) from the field, 4/10 (40.0%) from deep and 4/6 from the free throw line in the first half. St. Bonaventure went 11/24 (45.8%) from the floor, 4/9 (44.4%) from three and 8/14 (57.1%) from the charity stripe in the opening frame. Hankins-Sanford was the only player in foul trouble with three at the pause.
The Minutemen struck first in the second half as Thompson cashed in a straight-away three. Pride was the first to score for the Bonnies in the second as he grabbed a layup soon after. Cross quickly countered with a layup of his own before Pride was fouled. He made both free throws. UMass continued to surge offensively as it was Ndjigue converting an old-fashioned three-point play. Assa would with an offensive rebound and layup on the following possession to cut the deficit back to six with just over four minutes gone.
Adams-Woods sank a wing three out of the first media timeout of the half as the Bonnies continued to scratch and claw away at the UMass lead. Curry earned a trip to the charity stripe on the ensuing possession where he made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to five. Next it was Brown’s turn at the line where he hit both. Cross and Pride then quickly trade layups before Pride forced a steal and got the lay to go in transition. He was fouled but missed his free throw to tie the game.
Ndjigue answered the Bonaventure comeback attempt with a corner three to push the UMass lead back to four. The teams then traded buckets again with Brown and Cross before Flowers was fouled in the act of shooting. His two free throws cut the Minutemen lead back to two with just under 12 minutes left. UMass once again quickly responded with a driving layup from Thompson. The back-and-forth second half continued with Brown and Thompson both scoring in tight. Evans was the next player to get to the free throw line but only made one of his two shots. The Bonnies still trailed by three.
The teams then predicably traded buckets again with Diggins and Pride making layups. Diggins followed that with a pair of free throws before Adams-Woods cashed in a three late in the shot clock. Following a defensive stop, Venning grabbed a hook shot to tie the game at 63. The game would not stay tied for long as Josh Cohen found his first points of the night with a pair of layups. Pride then got to the hole before Cross found the bottom of the net on the following possession. Next it was Brown scoring after grabbing an offensive rebound before Adams-Woods got the cup for a and-one layup. He made his free throw and the Bonnies led 70-69 with 5:35 remaining in the game. It was Bonaventure’s first lead since 9-8.
The lead was short lived as Diggins threw down a fast-break dunk. However, Pride gave Bonas the lead right back with a driving layup on the next possession. After an empty possession for each side, Cross was fouled and shot a one-and-one. He made both free throws to put the Minutemen back up one with just over two minutes to play. Flowers then connected with a layup shortly after the free throws to push Bonaventure back in front 74-73.
UMass’ Thompson then missed a layup that was rebounded by Assa. The Bonnies now had the chance to extend their lead. With 22 seconds remaining Adams-Woods missed a layup. However, Venning came down with the rebound and was fouled. He went to the line and sank two massive free throws to push the Bonaventure lead to 76-73. The Minutemen had an opportunity to tie the game with the shot clock turned off, but Cohen missed the potential game-tying three. Evans grabbed the rebound and swiftly tossed the ball ahead to Venning who converted a monster and one dunk. He made his free throw, and the game went final with the Bonnies grabbing a 79-73 victory.
Pride and Cross tied for the game lead in points tonight with 19 apiece. Thompson added 16 for the Minutemen while Ndjigue had 12 and Diggins totaled 10. Adams-Woods and Venning both tallied 15 points while Flowers added 14 for the Bonnies. UMass ended the night shooting 28/58 (48.3%) from the floor, 6/18 (33.3%) from three and 11/16 (68.8%) from the free throw line. St. Bonaventure went 27/53 (50.9%) from the field, 6/17 (35.3%) from deep and 19/28 (67/9%) from the charity stripe. The Minutemen outrebounded the Bonnies 34-23 while both teams registered 12 turnovers.
Mark Schmidt talked about the physicality of the game in his postgame press conference. “UMass was more physical than us in the first half, but we did a much better job in the paint on both ends of the floor in the second half,” he said. The head coach then continued about the difficulty of running an efficient offense against a physical opponent. “It was hard to run offense and there were a lot of ball screens. It’s hard to attack a set defense,” Schmidt said.
Flowers added his thoughts on yet another Bonaventure comeback win. “We knew what it was, and we just had to come together and come back because it’s a place we’ve been before,” he said. He then touched on this team’s ability to adapt to any type of game. “It doesn’t matter the style of the game we just have to show up and play well every night,” Flowers said. Adams-Woods finished the presser saying he has taken a step back and enjoyed the atmosphere as the home schedule dies down. “– I have to cherish and enjoy every day and I love this place and these fans,” he said, “That’s one thing I learned this year being here is that it’s just great to be a Bonnie.”
St. Bonaventure improves to 14-8 overall and 5-5 in Atlantic 10 play with the win. UMass drops to 14-8 and 5-5 in conference play with the loss. The Bonnies are back in action Saturday afternoon against Duquesne in what fans are being told will be another whiteout game.