For St. Bonaventure, no ‘Saint Louis Blues’. The Bonnies defeated a hot Saint Louis team 68-61 at Chaifetz Arena on Friday evening. The nationally televised win was the Bonnies’ (14-7) 6-4 A10 second straight. Saint Louis (17-7) is now 8-3 in conference play. The numbers and notes… ..
Possessions: 68- The average A10 pace for the Billikens but not drastically faster than the pace employed by the Bonnies (65).
Offensive Efficiency: St. Bona 100, Saint Louis 90. This is what Bona and their faithful were looking for. A return to the ways of lockdown ‘D’. Travis Ford’s Billikens average a 109 efficiency in A10 play, good for third in the conference. Bonaventure as shown by the efficiency metrics, rose to the occasion. A 90 defensive efficiency will win a great deal of games. Especially in a challenging road environment.
TO rate: This one was huge. Bona committed 7 turnovers for an excellent 10% rate. Saint Louis was guilty of 18 turnovers, a drastically high 27%. For Bona limiting turnovers against the conference’s third best defensive team (95 defensive efficiency) on the road was an impressive, game deciding performance.
Slowing down Yuri Collins, Saint Louis’ outstanding sophomore guard, was a priority for Bona coach Mark Schmidt. Collins can score, ignite the break and distribute. On the night he paced the Billikens with 18 points and 7 assists. In an overall assessment he was held in check and forced into eight turnovers.
A byproduct of the Collins defense by limiting his ability to get teammates involved, was the fact Saint Louis had only one other double digit scorer- Francis Okoro with 14. Gibson Jimerson, a 17 ppg scorer, was held to 6 points. The second straight game the Bonnies held the opposition’s high scher to single digits.
Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies with 16 points, earning well deserved Kenpom.com game MVP accolades in the process. Lofton added 8 assists and 4 steals and was instrumental in neutralizing Collins of Saint Louis. Jalen Adway added 15 points, Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi added a dozen each. Osunniyi, limited by foul trouble, logged 26 minutes adding six rebounds and blocks on the night.
Toughness. You can game plan and X and O all night but the simple fact is facing Saint Louis you need toughness. Travis Ford’s best Billiken teams, as this one, are built on that quality-aggressive defense and rebounding being a product of that quality. To match up with Saint Louis, your club needs to at least be equally tough. Preferably better.
The Bonnies had that toughness. Physically, and a great deal mentally. Falling behind by double figures with Osunniyi in foul trouble in the first half the Bonnies did not panic. On his return in the latter portion of the half Bona went on a 16-0 run and eventually took a 34-30 lead into intermission. Twenty minutes remained but the message was sent. On this night the visitors were not going away without a fight.
Saint Louis won the rebounding battle 39-30. Holmes led all rebounders with eight. Fred Thatch and Jordan Nesbitt shared rebounding honors for Saint Louis with seven. The teams were even with 8 second chance points each. Bona also won the points in the paint battle 36-30.
Saint Louis came into the game on a six game (seven of eight) win streak. Bona has now won two straight. On Monday the same teams meet at Reilly Center. In such a short turnaround it will be interesting to see if the respective coaches make any specific changes for the rematch. Following Monday’s game, Bona continues a busy home stand with UMass on Wednesday, Duquesne Saturday and Rhode Island the following Tuesday. A busy and important stretch for Schmidt and co.