By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
A young, shorthanded St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team experienced severe growing pains the last time it faced the Boise State Broncos, the second of three defeats in the 2018 Cayman Islands Classic.
Those Bonnies, playing without injured starters LaDarien Griffin, Courtney Stockard and Dominick Welch, fell 72-52 after being outscored by 14 in the second half. The starting five: Kyle Lofton, Alpha Okoli, Jalen Poyser, Tshiefu Ngalakulondi and Amadi Ikpeze.
Now seniors, Lofton, Welch and Osun Osunniyi can avenge that loss when they open the Charleston Classic against the Broncos on Nov. 18. Bona will face either Clemson or Temple in the second round on Nov. 19 and, if it wins both matchups, could meet Bob Huggins and 2021 NCAA Tournament participant West Virginia in the Nov. 21 final. Temple and West Virginia are each former Atlantic 10 Conference members, departing the league in 2013 and 1995, respectively.
Boise State compiled a 19-9 record last season, starting 13-1 before finishing the season 6-8. Leon Rice’s team defeated SMU in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) first round before falling to eventual tournament champion Memphis. Leading scorer Derrick Alston Jr. departed for the NBA Draft, but the returns of fifth-year senior forward Abu Kijab, redshirt senior point guard Marcus Shaver Jr. and former five-star recruit Emmanuel Akot prove the Broncos still boast experience and size.
The tournament is set to be held at the College of Charleston’s TD Arena.