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Bonnies Host Saint Louis to Finish Regular Season

Photo by Dan Nelligan

It’s Senior Day in the Reilly Center as the Bonnies welcome the St. Louis Billikens to town. The Bonnies had a golden opportunity to grab a double bye slip out of their hands Wednesday at George Washington on the Revolutionary’s Senior Day. Bonaventure will try to send their seniors out in style as they prepare for one final run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament less than a week from today. Here’s what you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s matchup.

The Bonnies

St. Bonaventure enters today at 18-11 overall and 9-8 in Atlantic 10 play. A win and Bonas will be at worst the seven seed but could drop to the eight seed with a loss and a win by George Mason. The highest seed the Bonnies can be in the A10 Tourney is the six seed with a win and a loss by Duquesne. Mark Schmidt’s team is 11-3 at home this season.

Chad Venning continues to lead the Bonnies in scoring with a 14.2 point per game average. The redshirt junior adds 5.0 rebounds per contest, a 72.6% free throw percentage and a team-high 51 blocks. Transfer guard duo Mika Adams-Woods and Charles Pride have stayed put in the second and third leading scorer roles. Admas-Woods scores 12.8 points per game to go along with 46 threes, an 82.9% free throw percentage, 27 steals and a team-best 104 assists. Pride scores 11.1 points per contest to add to his 29 steals, 37 triples, 85.7% free throw percentage and team leading 5.8 boards per game.

Moses Flowers and Daryl Banks III have held steady in their roles as well. Flowers scored 9.8 points per game while nabbing 24 steals, assisting on 33 buckets and leading the team in made threes with 50. Banks averages 9.4 points per contest, has hit 48 triples, grabbed 24 steals and assisted on 73 baskets this season. Assa Essamvous also continues to contribute. The sophomore averages 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game to go along with 27 steals and 38 threes on the year.

Noel Brown continues his good work as Venning’s relief. The 6-foot-11 center averages 6.1 points per game and has been solid down low all season. Barry Evan has also been great on both ends of the floor in 2023-24. Evans may only average 3.1 points per game but he adds 4.9 rebounds per contest along with 36 assists, 29 steals and 15 blocks. Kyrell Luc also chips in 2.3 points per game and 22 assists as he has come off the bench most of the season.

The Bonnies enter this afternoon’s game at 74th in the NET Rankings and 90th in the KenPom Ratings. St. Louis has a chance to grab a quadrant one victory today.

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

The Opponent

To say Travis Ford’s Billikens have had a down year in 2023-24 is an understatement. St. Louis enters today’s game 11-19 over and 4-13 in conference play. The Billikens are tied for last place in the Atlantic 10 and bring a 2-9 road record into the Reilly Center. Ford lost a ton of talent last offseason including Yuri Collins, Javonte Perkins, Javon Pickett, Francis Okoro, Jake Forrester and Fred Thatch. This season was always going to be a rebuilding year for SLU as they retool for the future.

The Billikens have four scorers averaging double figures this season including two scoring more than 15 points per game. Sincere Parker and Gibson Jimerson are the players leading this team offensively. Parkers sits atop the scoring charts averaging 15.9 points per contest. The 6-foot-3 guard adds a 42.6% three-point percentage, an 81.8% free throw percentage and 4.3 rebounds per game to his stat line. Jimerson seems like he had been at SLU forever yet is only a redshirt junior. The 6-foot-5 guard scores 15.3 points per game while leading the team in free throws made (105), free throws attempted (122), three pointers made (72) and three pointers attempted (191).

Terrence Hargrove Jr. and Bradley Ezewiro are the other players scoring double figures in each game. Hargrove, a 6-foot-5 senior, averages 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. He also adds 41 made threes in 105 tries to go along with 89 made free throws in 113 attempts. Ezewiro, a 6-foot-9 junior, scores 12.5 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game. The forward also chips in a 72.5% free throw percentage to his stat line.

Larry Hughes II, Kellen Thames and Michael Meadows Jr. are the main complementary players to the big-four scorers. The 6-foot-4 Hughes scores 7.2 points per game while also chipping in 44 made threes in 122 attempts and a 76.3% free throw conversion rate. Thames scores 5.9 points while Meadows averages 5.7 points per contest. Both players are guards. Four other players could make an appearance for the Billikens with Cian Medley and Bruce Zhang likely being the most impactful. Medley averages 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while Zhang scores 2.5 points per contest.

Projected Starting Five: Thames, Huges II, Ezewiro, Hargrove Jr., Jimerson

Players to Watch

Daryl Banks III – Banks has arguably been St. Bonaventure’s best player since he moved to coming off the bench about a month ago. The fifth-year senior has gone back to his high-scoring ways of last season. Banks has not just been solid in the points category as of late, but he has also continued to share the basketball and play suffocating defense. I expect Daryl Banks to show out on Senior Day.

Gibson Jimerson – The Billikens have thrown defense completely out the window this season and have focused on trying to score as many points as possible. Jimerson has always been and always will be the center of attention on offense at SLU. The redshirt junior leads the team in minutes along with a handful of scoring categories. Limiting one of Jimerson and Parker will be key for Bonaventure success this afternoon. Do not let this guy get hot from the floor.

Last Season’s Meeting

The Billikens crushed the Bonnies last season in their only meeting. St. Louis brought a very balanced scoring attack to the floor in that 78-55 victory last January. Chad Venning led all scorers in that game with 23 points while Moses Flowers dropped 15. Gibson Jimerson had 13 points while Yuri Collins and Jake Forrester had 11 points in the win. Three other Billikens had at least eight points as well. SLU shot 49.0% from the field and 41.7% from deep in the victory while the Bonnies were 426% from the floor and 23.1% from deep. The Billikens also outrebounded Bonas 35-25.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

This should once again be another straightforward victory, but we all saw what happened Wednesday. This game being at home makes me feel better but Senior Day and the festivities that go along with it make me scared for a potential slow start. This team has been prone to slow starts and long lulls which could get you in trouble against a purely offensive-minded St. Louis team. The Bonnies are once again the better side but will need to keep their foot on the gas offensively while getting back to playing their normal suffocating defense. Bonnies enter the conference tournament on a high note with a double-digit win.


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