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Foot on the Line! Bonnies Win Thriller Over Davidson

Photo by Dan Nelligan

St. Bonaventure defeated Davidson 81-80 in overtime this afternoon. Connor Kochera led all scorers with 29 points while two other Wildcats and five Bonnies scored in double figures. Today’s game will go down as one of the wildest games in recent memory for Bonas. The first half was one full of runs and streak before the second half went back-and-forth throughout to force an overtime period that concluded with a potential game-tying shot being changed from a three to a two. Here’s how it all went down this afternoon.

The Bonnies struck first this afternoon as Assa Essamvous picked up right where he left off Wednesday. The sophomore opened the scoring with a two just inside the arc. The next made basket would not come until nearly two minutes later as Connor Kochera got Davidson on the board with a three. Charles Pride then answered that triple with one of his own on the following possession before Kochera knocked down a midrange jumper.

Pride worked his way to the free throw line shortly after and would make both before Grant Huffman found his first three points of the game on the other end. Assa made another deep two before Reed Bailey was fouled at the rim by Venning. The sophomore sank a pair of free throws as the Wildcats led 10-9.

Davidson’s lead would not last long as Venning grabbed back-to-back layups to push Bonaventure ahead. Kochera struck again from deep in response before Noel Brown threw down an alley-oop from Pride. The Bonnies would continue to play solid defense as Daryl Banks III got on the scoresheet with a fade-away midrange. Brown was next to score in close before Pride cashed in a reverse lay. Next it was Brown getting fouled and making a pair of free throws to push the Bonaventure run to 10-0.

Kochera ended the Bonnie run as he splashed a corner three before converting on an old fashioned three-point play on the following possession. He had 14 of Davidson’s 19 points with just under eight minutes to play in the half. Next it was Riccardo Ghedini splashing in a triple as Davidson was suddenly on a 9-0 run. That run would end on the ensuing possession as Kyrell Luc cashed in a pullup jumper before Assa did the same shortly after. The game of runs continued as Assa went to the line and split a pair of free throws. Adams-Woods would be the next player to shoot free throws as he also split his pair. The Bonnies were on a 7-0 run.

Huffman would be the run-stopper this time for the Wildcats as he got to the rim for two. However, he would be immediately answered by Venning on the other end of the floor. Venning then stuffed Bailey on the following possession which extended his consecutive games with a block streak to 27 straight games. After an empty offensive trip for the Bonnies, Achile Spadone was fouled by Assa. Davidson would shoot the one-and-one where Spadone made both free throws. The whistles continued as Venning was hacked next. The redshirt junior split from the line before Huffman slipped free for an easy layup.

The Wildcats would head back to the line as Flowers committed the off the ball foul. Bailey would shoot a one-and-one this time and he knocked down both to trim the Bonnie lead to two. Kochera would then get to the rim for two and tie the game as the first half ticked under a minute to play. Schmidt took his use it or lose it timeout which resulted in a Venning hook shot. Huffman answered with a layup of his own as the game went to the half tied at 34 apiece.

Kochera led all scorers with 16 points at the half while Huffman added nine. Venning led the Bonnies in scoring at the break with nine points while Assa and Pride had scored seven points each. Davidson shot 11/23 (47.8%) from the floor, 5/12 (41.7%) from three and a perfect 7/7 from the free throw line. St. Bonaventure went 13/19 (68.4%) from the field, 1/4 (25.0%) from deep and 7/11 (63.6%) from the charity stripe. The Wildcats outrebounded Bonas in the first 20 minutes 12-7 while registering eight total turnovers compared to Bonaventure’s five.

The Bonnies struck first in the second half as Pride was fouled in transition. While he was unable to get the initial shot to fall, the Bryant transfer hit both free throws to put Bonaventure back in front. The lead would not last long as Bobby Durkin splashed in a straightaway triple to give Davidson the lead. The Wildcats then brought some backcourt pressure which resulted in a steal and a shooting foul. Kochera went to the line and sank his free throws to push the Davidson lead to 39-36 early in the second half.

Bailey was next to score as he banked in an odd angle shot off the glass. It was now a 7-0 run for the visitors who had come out strong to start the half. Pride was whistled for a foul following the under-16 media timeout which the crowd took exception to. Hunter Adam scored in close following the call which set the Bonaventure faithful off even more. The injection of life into the crowd appeared to give the Bonnies life as Assa and Banks sunk back-to-back threes on the next two possessions. Adam would score again, but Brown responded by cashing in a pair of free throws. The Bonnies had cut the lead to one with around 13 minutes remaining.

The teams would then both go empty for multiple possessions before Spadone was fouled in the act of shooting. He split his free throws before Adams-Woods made a driving layup to tie the game at 46. Venning would give the Bonnies the lead with a layup as the shot clock was about to expire but would be answered immediately by a Ghedini triple. The game continued to seesaw back and forth as Barry Evans and Sean Logan traded buckets before Pride laid one home. Spadone was the next player to grab a layup before Pride was fouled. The game went to the under-eight media timeout with the Wildcats leading 53-52.

Pride hit both his free throws to push Bonaventure back in front by one. Banks then came down with the defensive rebound off a three-point miss which led to Davidson being called for a goaltending violation. Pride was credited with the bucket. The Wildcats expectedly punched back yet again as Kochera was fouled and got the bucket to fall. However, he would miss his free throw to keep Bonas up by one. Next it would be Assa draining the triple as the shot clock expired before Huffman immediately answered with a jumper.

As the shot clock bled below five seconds on the next possession, Banks attempted a deep three which found the bottom of the net. Assa would then pick Bailey’s pocket which led to an Adams-Woods layup. Davidson head coach Matt McKillop had seen enough and took the timeout to stop the bleeding. The Bonnies led 64-57 with 4:04 left to play.

McKillop’s timeout worked for the Wildcats as Bailey got to the rim for two. The Bonnies would continue to score, though, as Adams-Woods went to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. He knocked down both free throws to push the lead back to seven. Next it was Huffman getting to the line for Davidson. He made both free throws as the game went under three minutes to play. The whistles kept coming as Venning was fouled in the paint. However, he missed both free throws as Davidson remained down by five.

The Wildcats would continue to cut into the lead as Bailey grabbed an offensive rebound off a Durkin missed three and scored. Mark Schmidt would call the timeout as the Bonnies led 66-63 with 2:11 to play. The Wildcats would come up with a defensive stop despite Bonaventure grabbing an offensive rebound. Following the stop, Kochera banged a corner three to tie the game with 1:13 left.

Adams-Woods would be fouled on the following possession and make his free throws to give the Bonnies a two-point lead with 50.2 seconds to go. Huffman would be the man that stepped up for Davidson as he hit the jumper to tie the game at 68 with 28 seconds to go. The Bonnies would have the last shot as Banks took a smothered three which rimmed out as time expired. This game would head to overtime tied at 68.

The Wildcats won the tipoff to start the overtime period and immediately found Kochera down low for the layup. Adams-Woods and the Bonnies would respond a few possessions later with a straight-away three to push the Bonnies back on top. After Davidson missed a three, Venning got a jumper to fall as Bonaventure led 73-70 with 2:44 to play. Bailey would then get to the line and split free throws before grabbing a layup on the following possession. The game was tied at 73 with under two minutes to play.

Venning would be fouled on Bonaventure’s next trip down the floor. He made both free throws before Bailey was fouled on the floor by Pride. Bailey missed the front end of the one-and-one which led to Banks hitting a midrange. The Bonnies led 77-73 with 56 seconds remaining. The Wildcats would not go away quietly, however, as Durkin splashed a three to cut the lead to one. Assa was fouled immediately on the inbound and sank both free throws. Bonaventure led 79-76 with 33 seconds to go.

Kochera and the Wildcats would opt for a quick two as he squeaked free underneath before Adams-Woods was fouled. He cashed in both his free throws before Davidson took their final timeout. The Wildcats were able to get two look at the tie as Bailey missed a three, Kochera grabbed the rebound and took it back outside the arc. He heaved a shot as time expired which went in, seemingly tying the game. The officials would review the play and deemed Kochera’s foot was on the line and the basket was only a two pointer. This caused the Bonnies to win the game 81-80 in overtime.

Kochera led the game ins coring with 29 points while Huffman’s 15 and Bailey’s 13 were the only other Wildcats in double figures. Assa, Venning and Pride all scored 15 points in the win while Adams-Woods (14 points) and Banks (10 points) were also in double figures. Davidson shot 29/59 (49.2%) from the floor, 9/24 (37.5%) from three and 13/18 (72.2%) from the line. St. Bonaventure went 26/46 (56.5%) from the field, 6/15 (40.0%) from deep and 23/30 (76.7%) from the charity stripe. The Wildcats outrebounded the Bonnies 28-25 while turning the ball over 13 times compared to Bonaventure’s 12.

Coach Schmidt began his press conference talking about the electricity inside the RC this afternoon. “It was a great crowd from the students to the community to the alums,” he said. Then he spoke on the wild ending to the game. “Thank God that line was a bit thicker,” Schmidt said, “I think the Franciscans had something to do with that.” He then touched on how conscience you must be on the defensive end in Atlantic 10 play overall. “You must concentrate for 30 seconds at a time for 40 minutes and ff you relax they’re going to get you,” Schmidt said.

Assa Essamvous was then asked about what has been going right for him in terms of shooting the basketball the last two games. “The coaches have been telling me to keep my head up and keep playing,” Assa said, “We’ve been working in the gym, and it finally has paid off. Daryl Banks end the presser with his thoughts on the ending of this afternoon’s game. “This is up there as one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in,” Banks said, “I’ve never seen something like that reviewed for that long.”

The Bonnies improve to 16-9 overall and 7-6 in conference while Davidson falls to 14-11 overall and 4-8 in conference play. Bonaventure will travel to La Salle and UMass next week with the stop in Philly being first on Wednesday.


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