By Paul Casey Gotham
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Andrew Nicholson started it. Chris Johnson finished.
And then some.
The duo chipped in15 points apiece as the St. Bonaventure Bonnies opened Atlantic 10 play with a 66-56 victory over the George Washington Colonials at the Reilly Center.
Johnson scored 10 of his 15 points in the game’s final 9 minutes to salt the victory. The junior transfer took a pass from Da’Quan Cook in the middle of the lane, used a spin move and finished with his right hand at the rim.
The Bonnies then fended off a furious GW attack on the offensive glass. Despite getting three offensive rebounds the Colonials came away empty handed and Johnson got into the open floor in transition before being fouled. Two free throws later, SBU led 51-39. Johnson scored on three of Bona’s last four possessions.
“Opportunities will come if you play hard,” said Johnson smiling. “We made plays with our defense.”
After playing limited minutes early in the season, the junior from North Preston, Nova Scotia has come through in each of Bona’s last 3 games.
“Chris has done a great job throughout the season coming off the bench and giving us a lift,” said SBU head coach Mark Schmidt.
Leading by fifteen at the half, Demitrius Conger gave the Brown and White its largest lead in the game at 19 with a pair of baskets.
But Tony Taylor sparked a Colonial comeback. The pre-season all-conference selection used an upfake, one dribble and a pullup jumper to jump start the rally. One defensive stop later, Taylor fed Dwayne Smith for the deuce. By the time Taylor dished dimes to David Pellom on consecutive possessions, the Colonials trailed by five at 41-36.
“There is always points in every game where you can fold, ” Schmidt commented. ” There is always points where guys can make big shots or miss. The last two games we have made plays that have stopped the opposition’s momentum.”
Nicholson stemmed the tide with a traditional three-point play off a baseline out-of-bounds play. With GW playing zone Matthew Wright found Andrew Nicholson along the baseline for a face-up jumper, and SBU led 45-38. The pair combined on the next trip for another three-point play when Wright assisted with a high-low pass to Nicholson.
The Bonnies grabbed an early lead in the game.
Trailing for the only time in the game 2-0, Nicholson connected with a 3-ball from the top of the key. On the next possession, Nicholson used two dribbles before going to the rim for the deuce. The senior forward followed with a hook in the lane and the Brown and White claimed a lead they would never relinquish.
Conger and Youssou Ndoye helped the Bonnies grab a commanding lead before halftime.
Ndoye, coming of the bench, finished a rebound and putback for a 16-10 lead. Two trips later, Conger drove the lane from right to left. When the defense shifted, he dished to Ndoye for the lay in.
Conger followed with a three from Charlon Kloof and a rebound and putback of his own for a 23-12 advantage.
Cook closed the stanza with a pair of buckets. Conger had a steal and passed ahead to senior forward in the open floor for a dunk. On the next possession, Eric Mosley drove the baseline and kicked to Cook at the right elbow for a catch-and shoot jumper.
SBU out-rebounded GW 28-26.
The Colonials scored 20 points off 22 Bonaventure turnovers.
Taylor and Lasan Kromah entered play averaging more than a combined 23 points per game. Bonnies’ defense held the two to a total of 12 points on 3-16 shooting from the field.
Wright led all with five assists. Taylor had a game high six rebounds.
George Washington falls to 5-9 overall with the loss. St. Bonaventure improves to 8-5. The Bonnies travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 7th for a 4 pm tip-off with the Duquesne Dukes.