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Davidson Visits the Reilly Center for Alumni Weekend Clash

Photo by Dan Nelligan

Another day, another Atlantic 10 game between two teams packed in the middle of the standings. The A10 is the tightest it has been in recent memory as eight of the league's 15 teams are separated by three games. Davidson and St. Bonaventure both find themselves in that group. The Bonnies will have an advantage this afternoon, though, as the Reilly Center will be rocking full of students, fans and alumni for another nationally televised game. Here’s what you need to know before tipoff.

The Bonnies

The Bonnies enter this afternoon’s game with a 15-9 overall and 6-6 conference record. Bonaventure currently sits in a tie for sixth place in the Atlantic 10 and would be the sixth seed if the conference tournament started today. The Bonnies are 9-3 at home this season and will look to begin a new winning streak following Wednesday’s victory at Fordham.

Chad Venning has re-taken the teams coring lead as he has moved his average up to 13.9 points per game. The redshirt junior also leads the team in blocks with 46 (26 straight games with a block), free throws made (64) and free throw attempts (90). Venning adds 4.9 rebounds per game to his stat line.

Mika Adams-Woods and Charles Pride continue to be vital pieces for Mark Schmidt. Admas-Woods averages 13.6 points per game to go along with a team-high 82 assists and 41 made threes. The Cincinnati transfer has also grabbed 22 steals this season. Pride averages 11.9 points per game to go with his team leading 6.6 rebounds per game. The Bryant transfer throws in 24 steals, 40 assists and 33 triples, too.

Moses Flowers and Daryl Banks III keep playing a platoon system at guard. Flowers averages 9.4 points per game to go with 40 threes, 25 assists and 16 steals. Banks averages 8.4 points per game, 61 total assists, 35 threes and a team best 85.7% clip from the free throw line. Barry Evans also continues to be a sparkplug off the Bonaventure bench. The sophomore averages 3.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while producing on both ends of the floor. Evans has registered 31 assists, 10 blocks and a team-high 26 steals.

Both Assa Essamvous and Noel Brown registered career bests in points in Wednesday’s game at Fordham. Assa made seven threes and totaled 23 points while Brown grabbed 18 points. Assa raised his scoring average to 7.4 points per game while chipping in 5.5 boards per contest to go along with 24 steals and 21 assists. Brown raised his scoring average to 6.0 points per game.

The Bonnies currently sit 70th in the NET Rankings and 79th in the KenPom Ratings. Bonas presents Davidson with a chance to pick pa  quadrant one victory today.

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

The Opponent

Davidson enters today’s game with a 14-10 overall and 4-7 conference record. The Wildcats sit at the bottom of the jumbled mess that is the middle of the Atlantic 10 and would be the 10 seed if the conference tournament started today. Davidson has been inconsistent overall this season which includes a 4-4 road record.

There is a clear best five for Matt McKillop’s team this season. Those players are led by senior Grant Huffman. The 6-foot-4 guard averages 13.4 points per game to go along with 5.0 rebounds per contest. Huffman also adds a staggering 121 assists and 34 steals to lead his team. David Skogman does not follow far behind Huffman as he scores 13.3 points per game. The 6-foot-10 fifth year forward adds 4.9 rebounds per contest and 32 threes to his stat line as well.

Both Reed Bailey and Connor Kochera average double figures for the Wildcats as well. Bailey also stands at 6-foot-10 while averaging 11.8 points and a team best 5.7 rebounds per game. The sophomore also chips in 92 free throw makes in 116 attempts and 31 assists. Kochera is a 6-foot-5 senior who averages 11.2 points per game along with 33 threes.

Bobby Durkin is the only other player averaging close to double figures at 9.4 points per game. The 6-foot-7 freshman leads Davidson in three-point shooting with 50 makes in 136 attempts. He also throws in 4.8 rebounds per game, 32 assists and 24 steals. Angelo Brizzi will also have his name heard as he averages 5.3 points per game while registering 30 steals and 40 assists.

The Wildcats will feature three other regular players in their rotation but none who average more than 3.0 points per game. Sean Logan does grab 3.4 rebounds per contest but neither Achile Spadone nor Hunter Adam average that many boards.

Davidson currently sits 117th in the NET Rankings and 115th in the KenPom Ratings. The Wildcats give the Bonnies a chance to grab a quadrant three victory this afternoon.

Projected Starting Five: Bailey, Durkin, Huffman, Logan, Kochera

Players to Watch

Barry Evans – Davidson has a ton of length which could cause Bonaventure to have some defensive issues down low. If the Bonnies have trouble stopping the Wildcats in the paint, I would not be surprised if Schmidt decides to run with Venning, Assa and Evans as a counter to the height they will be facing. Even if Schmidt decides to stay with his usual rotations, Evans will be a pivotal player, especially on the defensive side of the basketball. If Bonas wants to win this game, the sophomore is going to have to be active and noticeable on the defensive end of the floor. That should not be an issue given how he has played this season, but this is still something to monitor.

Grant Huffman – Huffman is the definition of a playmaker. Not only is he leading his team in scoring average at 13.4 points per game, but he has registered an absurd 121 assists. That’s nearly 5.1 apples per contest. Huffman also rebounds as he is second on the team with 5.0 boards per game along with leading the team ins teals with 34. The Bonnie guards will have their hands full this afternoon.

Last Season’s Matchup

These teams met twice last season: once in the regular season, then in the tournament. The Wildcats got the best of the Bonnies on both occasions in 2022-23. Davidson won 74-61 last February as Foster Loyer (27 points) and Sam Mennenga (24 points) had a field day. Neither player remains rostered for Davidson. Flowers had 16 points and Banks had 12 points in the loss.

The Wildcats once again pulled out a victory in last season's A10 tourney by a score of 65-54. The Bonnies saw Venning score 16 points while Flowers and Kyrell Luc had 10 apiece. As a team, Bonas shot only 42% from the field and 2/10 from deep. Desmond Watson led Davidson with 17 points in the game while Loyer and Mennenga were also in double figures.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

If the Bonnies want to win this game, they must play well in the paint. Davidson is going to want to pound the rock inside and will thrive on easy layups and second chance points. Venning, Brown, Assa and Evans are going to have to play physically and bring their best rebounding performances this afternoon. Additionally, the guards are going to have to knock down some big-time shots, especially from beyond the arc. Do not be fooled by the 4-7 A10 record, Davidson can still get the job done.

The Bonnies have been inconsistent this season and need to come out ready to play following the big win at Fordham. This is something Bonas has struggled with this season. Regardless of the start, I see this being a tight game throughout. I will side with the home team here by a two-possession win.


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