Fighting for postseason position, #Bonnies host UMass Wednesday

Courtesy of GoBonnies.com

St. Bonaventure (11-13, 4-7 A-10) vs.
Massachusetts (16-8, 6-5 A-10)
Wednesday, Feb. 20 | Reilly Center
TV: Time Warner Sports Channel
Game Notes: St. Bona | UMass | A-10
Twitter: @BonniesMBB | #Bonnies | #A10MBB
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Gameday Central

Opening Tip
St. Bonaventure returns to the Reilly Center on Wednesday night in search of a much-needed victory against Massachusetts in the cluttered Atlantic 10 Conference race. The contest will be a rematch of last season’s A-10 semifinal meeting in Atlantic City, won by the Bonnies, 84-80, behind 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists from then-junior Demitrius Conger.

Bonaventure is coming off a pair of heartbreaking, three-point overtime losses last week at home to La Salle (69-66) and on the road against Richmond (83-80). In both games, the Bonnies overcame late double-digit deficits, but with the setbacks they dropped into a tie for the 12th – and final – A-10 Tournament berth with Dayton. The Flyers, who are off this week before returning to action at UMass on Saturday, host the Bonnies on March 6.

Last Time Out
In its 83-80 overtime loss to Richmond Saturday, Bonaventure held a 77-76 lead with 24 seconds remaining in overtime following a pair of Charlon Kloof free throws. However, on the ensuing Richmond possession, senior Demitrius Conger fouled Darien Brothers attempting a 3-pointer, and Brothers knocked down all three free throws to ice the game. Eric Mosleyfinished with a career-high 30 points, and Jordan Gathers also scored a career-best 18 points, 15 of which came after halftime. Mosley’s 30-point effort marks the first time a Bona player besides Andrew Nicholson has scored 30 or more points in a road game since Marques Green tallied 43 at Niagara in December 2003. The foul-filled affair featured numerous debatable calls, including late in deciding moments, and in the end 54 total fouls were called – 28 on the Bonnies and 26 on the Spiders.

The Final Stretch
With five games remaining, the Bonnies find themselves tied for the final postseason berth in the A-10, but also are just two games out of the 6th position in the conference standings. Last year, Bonaventure was 6-5 through its first 11 A-10 games before finishing the year by winning four of its final five regular-season games – a feat the Bonnies will be looking to at least duplicate this year to ensure their spot in Brooklyn. The extremely deep A-10 features every league member with at least three losses but one, and the entire top-13 teams in the 16-team league are in the top-125 of the RPI, tied with the Big East for the most of any conference in the nation.

Gathers Starting vs. Sitting
Sophomore Jordan Gathers has started the last five games, and six games overall this season. In his last start at Richmond on Saturday, Gathers scored a career-high 18 points, continuing a trend of playing better in a starting role than when he comes off the bench. In the six games that he has started, Gathers has scored 43 points, compared with 38 points in the 18 games he has come off the bench. Additionally, in a starting role over coming off the bench, the California native is shooting a better percentage from the floor (63/31.7) and from 3-point range (71.4/30), grabbing more rebounds (2.8/0.6) and averaging more minutes per game (26/11.2).

Jordan’s Historic Night
As part of his career-high 18-point night at Richmond on Saturday, Gathers did not miss a shot, going 7-7 from the floor. With that performance, he became the first St. Bonaventure player in more than 15 years to attempt at least seven shots without missing. Robert Blackwell went 7-7 from the floor in a game at Massachusetts nearly 15 years to the day (Feb. 11, 1998).

Scouting UMass
^ Eight of the Minutemen’s games this season have been decided by three points or fewer.
^ Junior guard Chaz Williams leads the Minutemen this season with 15.7 points per game, good for 6th in the A-10.
^ Williams is currently ranked 6th in the country with 7.3 assists per game.
^ Massachusetts scores 72.8 points per game, which is 2nd in the conference.
^ UMass ranks in the top five in the A-10 in scoring per game (72.8), rebounds (37.2), assists (14.8), steals (7.71) and blocks (5.17).
^ UMass ranks 5th in conference with opponents shooting 33.2 percent from behind the arc; the Bonnies rank 4th in the A-10, shooting 37 percent from 3-point range.

Quick Hitters
# Wednesday’s contest features two players who almost never come off the court, with Bona’s Conger (35.8 minutes per game) and UMass’s Chaz Williams (36 mpg), ranking 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in the A-10 in minutes per game.
# Bona’s 19 turnovers at Richmond on Saturday were one shy of tying a season high in that category.
# SBU is now 1-7 in games when it commits more turnovers than its opponent.
# Bonaventure lost its first game of the year (4-1) when scoring at least 80 points in a game (83-80 at Richmond).
# Demitrius Conger enters Wednesday’s game two rebounds shy of 600 for his career.
# Bonaventure raced out to a 12-2 start Saturday at Richmond; the 10-point lead represents the largest lead Bona has had in a game this year that it lost.
# The Bonnies have had four straight games of single-digit second-chance points – the longest streak of the year.

Mosley On Near-Record Pace
Eric Mosley is connecting at a 43.7-percent clip from 3-point range, currently good for the third-best single-season 3-point percentage in program history. The senior is just .1 percent behind the second-best season (Richard McCormick, 43.8), who also owns the program’s best single-season percentage (45.5 in 1986-87).

Mosley, who has 62 3-point makes this year, is also just six 3’s shy of tying Mike Gansey for 10th on the program’s all-time single-season list for made 3-pointers. The single-season record for made 3’s is 101, set by Chris Matthews in the 2009-10 campaign. The Louisville native has hit five 3-pointers in a game three times, including Saturday at Richmond and twice in the last three games, and has hit five or more in a game on four occasions.

Small Margin For Error
Nine of St. Bonaventure’s first 11 Atlantic 10 games have been decided by 10 points or less for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Four of those have been decided by three points or less, including each of the last two games in overtime. Bonaventure is 1-3 in those games, just three defensive stops and scores away from being 4-0, boasting a 7-4 A-10 record and fighting for a first-round bye in the A-10 Tournament. In each of the last two games, the Bonnies have erased double-digit deficits with fewer than seven minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, but dropped both contests in the closing seconds by three points.

Extra Basketball
The consecutive overtime games played by the Bonnies mark the first time they have played back-to-back overtime games since the 2010-11 season when they defeated Ohio, 112-107, in four overtimes on Dec. 18, and on Dec. 23 when they lost to Virginia Tech, 76-68. The last, and only, time St. Bonaventure has played three overtime games in a row was during the 1982-83 season as it defeated West Virginia, Penn State and Rutgers during a four-game winning streak.

RPI Report
The Atlantic 10 has 13 of its 16 members in the top-125 of the latest RPI rankings, tied with the Big East for the most in the nation: Butler (18), La Salle (35), VCU (36), Temple (52), Massachusetts (55), Charlotte (56), Richmond (81), Saint Joseph’s (83), Xavier (98), Dayton (121), George Washington (122), St. Bonaventure (124). Last week the Bonnies lost both of their games and only dropped two spots in the RPI (122 to 124).

Next Up
St. Bonaventure heads to Pittsburgh to face long-time rival Duquesne for the second time this year on Saturday night at the Palumbo Center. The Bonnies claimed the first meeting of the season, 68-60, on Feb. 2. The Dukes have only won one conference game this year, but that came at perennial power Temple earlier this month. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Steel City.

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