Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bonnies Clinch A-10 Bye With 2OT Win Over Saint Joseph's

St. Bonaventure Athletics
March 1, 2012
Watch the complete game

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Andrew Nicholson bolstered his bid for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, leading St. Bonaventure (17-10, 10-5) to a 98-93 double-overtime win over Saint Joseph's (19-12, 9-7) at the Reilly Center.

Nicholson scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and made a barrage of clutch 3s to carry the Bonnies to a gutty, back-and-forth victory. The win, paired with Temple's overtime victory against UMass, guarantees SBU a top-four seed and a bye in the Atlantic 10 Championship in Atlantic City, N.J. March 9-11.

An instant classic, the whole game was played within a six-point window with 14 lead changes and 18 ties.

SBU bombed away three 3-pointers in four possessions of the second and final overtime - one from Nicholson, who canned three of five treys – to open up its biggest lead of the game with 90 seconds left. It was just enough to keep in front of a Saint Joseph's team in the hunt for a top-four seed of its own.

Getting there, though, was an adventure.

The Bonnies, who now own the A-10's longest win streak at four games, trailed 67-63 with a minute to go in regulation, but pulled to within one on a Nicholson 3. SBU forced a shot clock violation on its next possession before Nicholson used a shot fake to create space and find Matthew Wright open in the corner for a triple. With 1.9 ticks showing, Bona held a 69-67 lead that capped the rally and almost held up for the outright win.

A foul was called on the ensuing hail-mary inbounds pass, giving the Hawks' C.J. Aiken a pair of free throws that pushed the game to overtime.

Tied 75-all with 2:18 to go in the first extra frame, the Hawks strung together a 7-1 run, most of which came on four free throws from Chris Wilson. Down six, 82-76, St. Bonaventure responded again – a Da'Quan Cook layup, a Wright 3 – all leading to an NBA-range triple from Nicholson that tied it at 84 with 2.3 seconds left in overtime.

Nicholson, the leading candidate for League Player of the Year, recorded his fourth double-double in a seven-game tear through the heart of the Atlantic 10 season. He sits just six points shy of 2,000 for his career, with averages of 26 points and 12 rebounds over that span, including a red-hot 71 percent clip (10-14) from beyond the arc.

After trading jabs with the Hawks to start the final period, Kloof popped a straight away triple and Nicholson drained another from the wing to help SBU defeat Saint Joseph's defeat the Hawks for just the fifth time in 30 games under Phil Martelli.

Demitrius Conger chipped in his second straight double-double as well, totaling 16 points and 12 boards while handing out six assists. Cook tallied 14 points and was 8-of-11 from the free throw line and point guard Charlon Kloof knocked down both of his trifectas en route to 12 points.

Langston Galloway and Carl Jones led the Hawks with 20 points apiece. Ronald Roberts netted 18 to go with seven caroms.

The Bonnies conclude the regular season Saturday at La Salle (19-11, 8-7).

NOTES: The Bonnies will likely become the 17th school nationally and third in the Atlantic 10 with at leastfive 2,000-point scorers (La Salle 6, Xavier 5) … a scout from the NBA's Golden State Warriors was among the credentialed media … the Bonnies earned their 11th home win of the season, the most since 2001-01 … the 17 wins tie the most for a Mark Schmidt-coached team (17-11 at Robert Morris in 2006-07) … Bona's nine turnovers were the fewest this season … the 10 A-10 wins mark just the third time in program history with 10 or more, and first since 1999-00 (11-5).

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