The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team returns to the Reilly Center for the first time in more than three weeks Saturday night when the Bonnies battle the University at Buffalo Bulls. After opening the season at home with a victory over Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 9, SBU has played three road games and a neutral-site contest against Niagara in Rochester, going 2-2 in those contests.
Last Time Out
Bonaventure battled an undefeated Ohio team Receiving Votes in both national polls Wednesday night, but despite holding a lead in the final minute could not hang on as the Bobcats escaped with a 69-65 win over the Bonnies. Senior Eric Mosleyscored a career-high 19 points off the bench thanks to a career-establishing six 3-pointers (6-8) to lead the Brown and White. The Bonnies shot well (21-44 for 47.7 percent), but turned the ball over a season-most 20 times and went a season-worst 14-25 (56 percent) from the free-throw line as they dropped their second road matchup of the campaign.
St. Bonaventure leads the all-time series against Buffalo, 5-2, and has won four in a row over the Bulls. The two teams first met during the 1915-16 season, but then did not play again until the 1996-97 season – which was UB’s last win in the series, 69-67. Bona claimed last year’s game in Alumni Arena, 66-60, behind 23 points from Andrew Nicholson and an additional 11 from Demitrius Conger and 10 from Matthew Wright. In the short series history, the Bonnies have never lost to the Bulls in the Reilly Center (3-0).
^ Buffalo has lost to Princeton, at Florida State, Western Illinois, Yale and at Canisius; it holds victories over Division II Mansfield and at Evansville
^ UB was picked to finish 4th in the Mid-American Conference East Division
^ Junior forward Javon McCrea was named Big 4 Preseason Player of the Year and was also chosen to the All-MAC East Division Preseason Team; he is averaging 17 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game this year and is shooting 53.8 percent from the field
^ Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon enters his 14th season ranks third in UB history with 186 wins
For the first time since the final three games of the 2009-10 regular season, the Bonnies have had three straight games in which four players have scored in double figures. Demitrius Conger, Chris Johnson and Eric Mosley have been staples as each has scored in double figures the last three outings. In fact, over that timeframe, the trio has combined to account for 66 percent of St. Bonaventure’s scoring, up slightly from the 60 percent they represent of SBU’s overall scoring this year.
Battle Tested Already
Four of Bonaventure’s first five games of the season have been decided by five points or less, including four in a row (at Cornell, W 72-68; at Canisius, L 72-69; vs. Niagara, W 80-75; at Ohio, L 69-64). Only one other time in program history has a Bona team started a year by having four of its first five games decided by five points or less, and that came during the 1937-38 season. If Saturday’s game is decided by five points or less, it will mark the first time in Bonaventure history that a team commences a campaign with five of its first six games decided by that margin.
Record Scoring Margins
In addition to starting a season in record-tying fashion in terms of point margins, it is just the fourth time in program history at any point during a season that SBU has had four games in a row decided by five points or less.
1945-46: five straight games, spanning from Alfred to Ithaca 2-2
1979-80: five straight games, spanning from Niagara to Detroit 2-2
2009-10: four straight games, spanning from Charlotte to Duquesne 2-2
2012-13: four straight games, spanning from Cornell to Ohio
Furthermore, in all of the four occasions, the Bonnies have gone 2-2 over the four games, and in the previous two five-game stretches, they have won the fifth game.
History On Its Side
The Bonnies have proven the ability to bounce back from losses particularly well, especially in the non-conference slate the last two-plus years. Over that time, Bonaventure is 10-1 following a loss, including an 80-75 victory over Niagara last Saturday. The only two-game losing streak during that time came against Virginia Tech (73-64) and Arkansas State (58-52) last year.
Career Night For Mosley
Senior Eric Mosley came off the bench to spark the St. Bona offense in its loss at Ohio on Wednesday. Mosley scored a career-high 19 points on a career-best six 3-pointers and in the process became the first Bona player since Ogo Adegboye on Feb. 16, 2011 against Saint Louis to hit at least six 3’s in a game.
Signs Of Last Year
Junior Charlon Kloof finally showed signs of what made him a force near the end of the 2011-12 season in SBU’s game at Ohio. Kloof set season highs in scoring (19), rebounds (four) and field goals made (three), and also knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season after eight tries.
Johnson Hot To Start
During the offseason, head coach Mark Schmidt called Chris Johnson the one player who would surprise opponents this year. So far, that’s exactly what the senior has done as he’s tied his career high for scoring in three of the first five games, netting 19 points in consecutive games against Cornell, Canisius and Niagara. Through five games, he’s already scored 83 points – a plateau he didn’t reach until the 15th contest last year. Additionally, the Nova Scotia native has already tied, or broken, a career high in eight other categories (rebounds: 6; assists: 4, steals: 2; field goals made: 8; 3-point field goals made: 3; field goals attempted: 17; 3-point field goals attempted: 6; minutes played: 35).
‘Quise Shaping Into Form
After tearing his Achilles just two minutes into last season, Marquise Simmons has gradually worked his way back into game form. After opening the season with a pedestrian four-point, one-rebound performance in 13 minutes against Bethune-Cookman, the Washington, D.C., native has seen his minutes and production increase each game. He tallied 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes at Cornell – the 14 points being the most he’s scored in a game since the 2010-11 season when he netted 18 versus La Salle on Feb. 12, 2011. He then played 27 minutes off the bench against Canisius, recording five points and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds. He capped the three-game stretch with arguably his best performance in a Bona uniform last Saturday when he recorded his first career double-double and grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds in 20 minutes of action against Niagara.
Good Things Come In Pairs
Demitrius Conger (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Marquise Simmons (12 points, 12 rebounds) each registered a double-double in the Bonnies’ victory over Niagara. The last time two St. Bonaventure players recorded double-doubles in the same game was Feb. 29, 2012, when Conger tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds and Andrew Nicholson produced 32 points and 14 rebounds in a 98-93 double-overtime victory opposite Saint Joseph’s. The last time two Bona players recorded double-doubles in the same regulation game was Feb. 25, 2012, when Conger had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Nicholson posted 25 points and 11 boards in a 72-56 victory over Charlotte.
Bonaventure remains at home to face Siena in the third edition of the battle for the Franciscan Cup in front of a national TV audience on Tuesday night at 9. The game has been changed from its original 7 p.m. start time to accommodate NBC Sports Network’s broadcast.