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Bonnies Get Third Crack at Duquesne in A10 Semis

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St. Bonaventure defeated Loyola Chicago in a double overtime thriller 75-74 to advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals. The Bonnies will now get the Duquesne Dukes. Bonas has lost four straight head-to-head meetings with Duquesne including a pair this regular season. While it can be common practice to throw out the regular year once the conference tournament starts, it remains very difficult to beat a team three times in one season, especially when the teams are very evenly matched. That is what the Dukes will look to do this afternoon. Here is everything you need to know before this semifinal matchup.

The Bonnies

St. Bonaventure entered the Atlantic 10 Tournament 20-12 overall, 9-9 in conference play and the seventh seed. The Bonnies finished the regular season losing two straight and three of the last five games before taking down La Salle 75-73 and Loyola 75-74. Chad Venning continues to be the leading scorer for this team, even with his early tourney struggles, as he puts up 13.6 points per game. The redshirt junior also averages 4.7 rebounds per game to go with a team leading 90 total made free throws and 53 blocks.

Mika Adams-Woods and Charles Pride are the only other Bonnies averaging double figures. Adams-Woods scores 13.0 points per game to go with 48 threes, an 84.4% free throw percentage and a team-high 113 assists. Pride averages 11.0 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game. The Bryant transfer also shoots 82.7% from the line while leading the team in steals with 34.

Moses Flowers and Daryl Banks III continue to successfully platoon. Flowers averages 9.6 points per game while Banks scores 9.5 points per contest. Flowers adds 27 steals and a team-high 53 made threes to his stat line. Banks chips in 77 assists, 52 triples and a team-high 89/0% free throw percentage. Banks has been the best player on this team so far in the tournament. Assa Essamvous remains an important piece for this team. The sophomore scores 7.3 points per game while also hauling in 5.4 rebounds per contest. Assa adds 31 steals and 42 threes as well.

Noel Brown, Barry Evans and Kyrell Luc round out Schmidt’s bench. Brown averages 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in relief of Venning. Brown has been invaluable with Venning’s struggles in these last two games. The redshirt junior had possibly the best overall game of his career in the A10 Quarterfinals. Evans scores 3.2 points and grabs 4.9 rebounds per contest while also contributing 40 assists, 31 steals, 17 blocks and a ton of energy. Luc averages 2.1 points per game and 23 total assists.

The Bonnies currently sit 82nd in the NET Rankings and 97th in the KenPom Ratings. The Dukes will face a quadrant two opponent this afternoon.

Projected Starting Five: Assa, Adams-Woods, Flowers, Pride, Venning

The Opponent

Keith Dambrot has his team at 22-11 overall and 10-8 in regular Atlantic 10 play entering the semifinals. The Dukes have won six straight and 13 of the last 16 games which makes them the hottest team in the conference. Duquesne is led by dynamic senior-guard duo Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III while a number of other players seem to take turns stepping into main supporting roles.

Grant leads the team in scoring as he averages 16.5 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard also grabs 3.5 rebounds per contest along with 74 assists and a 71/221 clip from beyond the arc. Grant is one of the best free throw shooters in the conference as his 137/144-mark totals to a 95.1% free throw make rate. Clark scores 15.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-3 guard adds a team-best 125 assists and 76 steals while remaining a three-points threat (63/182; 34.6%). Clark struggles a bit from the free throw line shooting 92/131 (70.2%).

Forwards David Dixon and Fousseyni Drame are the first layer of supper for Grant and Clark. Dixon, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, averages 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while adding 56 blocks to his stat line. Drame, a 6-foot-7 graduate transfer, scores 7.0 points and a team-high 4.8 rebounds per contest. Jake DiMichele and Andrei Savrasov provide the second wave. DiMichele, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard, averages 6.3 points per game. Savrasov, a 6-foot-7 forward, adds 6.2 points and 3.6 boards per contest.

Four or five other players will likely see the floor this afternoon. Kareem Rozier and Dusan Mahorcic are the third tier of complimentary support. Rozier scores 5.5 points per game while Mahorcic stands at 6-foot-10 averaging 4.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest. Tre Williams (3.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG), Halil Barre (1.9 PPG) and Jakub Necas (1.9 PPG) will also all likely see the floor at some point in the game.

Duquesne enters this afternoon at 89th in the NET Rankings and 94th in the KenPom Ratings. The Bonnies could pick up a quadrant two victory if they advance to the A10 Finals.

Projected Starting Five: Mahorcic, Clark III, Grant, Williams, DiMichele

Players to Watch

Daryl Banks III – How can you not pick Banks as Bonaventure’s player to watch? Banks has activated his 2022 March Madness St. Peter’s self over the past two games. Mark Schmidt has heavily relied on the fifth-year senior to hit that clutch shot and bail his team out so far in Brooklyn. If the Bonnies are going to win this game, Mr. March is going to have to be at the center of it all.

Jimmy Clark III – It’s hard to pick just one player for this since there are so many complimentary pieces to Clark and Grant. I will go with Clark here as he was the player who always seems to hit the clutch shot near the end of games. The reality of this Duquesne team, though, is that Clark and Grant are both going to get theirs. The real matchup to watch will be how the Bonnie defense limits the secondary scoring from whichever role players step up for Dambrot.

Previous Meetings

The Dukes swept the Bonnies in the regular season. The first win came in an absolute stinker of a game as Duquesne won 54-50 at home. Pride had 14 points and Assa 12 in the loss while Clark led the Dukes with nine points. The Bonnies shot 27.1% from the field, 15.4% (2/13) from three and 66.7% from the line. Duquesne shot 30.6% from the floor, 33.3% from deep and 56.7% from the free throw line. Bonaventure outrebounded Duquesne 44-39 while turning it over 16 times compared to the Dukes’ 15.

Scoring was more abundant in the second meeting between these teams as Duquesne took that game 75-69. Drame Fousseyni led the Dukes with 16 points while Clark had 15 and Frant had 12. Pride led the game in scoring with 22 points while Adams-Woods had 21 and Venning 10 in the loss. The Bonnies shot 40.0% from the floor, 33.3% (5/15) from three and 76.9% from the line. Duquesne hit at 45.8% from the field, 28.6% from deep and 71.4% from the stripe. The Dukes outrebounded the Bonnies 36-35 while both teams turned the ball over nine times.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

Kieth Dambrot, like many other A10 coaches this season, has appeared to have figured out Mark Schmidt’s offensive scheme. Nearly every possession, the Bonnies force the ball into Venning down low. Dambrot then has his guys double or triple team Venning which results in some sort of mistake or turnover most of the time. Schmidt has yet to make any sort of adjustment to this. Mark Schmidt, in his 17th season as the head coach of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, MUST make some sort of adjustment that involves the offense being able to run through someone or something other than feeding Venning in the post. Dambrot’s plan was clear, and it worked to perfection against Dayton: swarm and foul the star center since the Dukes can continue to rotate big forwards into the game.

Outside of the necessary adjustments that must be made, getting the red-hot Daryl Banks III enough good looks is paramount today. The defense is likely going to be there, especially against Duquesne. It is simply a matter of scoring consistently enough to win the basketball game. It might sound obvious, but it has to happen this afternoon. It’s once again now or never for this team. The Bonnies have scraped by the first two rounds not playing their best basketball. Today is going to be a good, old-fashioned, Atlantic 10 rock fight. I have the Bonnies winning a third-straight thriller and advancing to the Atlantic 10 Championship Game.


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