BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In a classic case of “survive and advance” St. Bonaventure defeated Saint Joseph’s 60-49 in Atlantic 10 first round action. The age-old axiom tells us it is difficult to defeat a team three times in one season. It is beyond difficult, more like impossible, to do it if your offensive efficiency is 77. The Barclays Center game came after the Bonnies swept the two regular season meetings. The first twenty minutes would leave casual followers wondering how St. Bonaventure managed to pull off a sweep.
In a slow to pedestrian 30 possessions, Saint Joseph’s, a 28-23 leader at the half, registered a 90 efficiency. Not great, but good enough for a lead when you allow a 77. The first half saw the teams combine for 15 field goals. St. Joseph’s with nine of those, had a 39 percent eFG mark while St. Bonaventure shot just 35 percent.
Then came the second half. The first four minutes are always crucial to setting a tone. Both clubs scored six points, but the tone was set. Saint Joseph’s missed a few early opportunities and in the words of coach Phil Martelli, “that added to our angst.” The Hawks lost confidence, in Martelli’s estimation. On the other side, St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt did concede the Hawks missed a few good looks, but it was a case of better Bonaventure defense.
In the initial 20 minutes De’Andre Bembry of Saint Joseph’s scored seven points. At the half Schmidt decided to switch on everything. “We wanted to limit Bembry’s touches,” the coach said. “I found out long ago, you don’t have the ball you can’t score.” Bembry found the defense tougher to face the second half. He finished with 13 points on 3 of 14 shooting. “We defended,” Schmidt said, “and started hitting some shots the second half.”
In a 35-possession second half, the Bonnies held a 106-60 offensive efficiency advantage. Bonnies shot a 50 percent eFG percentage holding the Hawks to 5 field goals and s 195 eFG mark. For the game the Bonnies enjoyed a 92-74 efficiency edge. A complete turn around those final 20 minutes.
The Bonnies, with four double figure scorers, wee led by Youssou Ndoye with 18 points. Isaiah Miles of Saint Joseph’s led all scorers with 19 points. Schmidt also lauded the play of Denzel Gregg. The sophomore swingman scored two points while pulling down 15 boards, a game-high with five at the offensive end. That helped the Bonnies enjoy a 48-33 rebounding edge. “Denzel is a three,” Schmidt said. “To rebound like that from that position is outstanding.”
The Bonnies (18-12), winners of six of their last seven, move on to play Dayton in the quarterfinals. Saint Joseph’s ends the season at 13-18. A year ago they cut down the Barclay Center nets. Now they are gone after a round. “We had the same locker room tonight as we did last year when we won the title,” Martelli said. “I told them we were champions here so lets leave like champions now…. The tough thing is, as a coach you always figure tomorrow you can fix something regarding your team. Now our season is over. There will not be a tomorrow.”