St. Bonaventure was not predicted to be among the contenders in the Atlantic 10 even though the men’s team entered the season with 10 returnees from last year’s conference championship outfit.
Yes, the Bonnies lost a key piece of last year’s team to graduation in A-10 Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson, but still a from first-to-11th drop?
Well, the Bonnies lived up to that prediction and then some by losing their first three conference games – including a Jan. 16 home loss to Xavier. To say they’ve rebounded well since that 66-64 loss to the Musketeers, however, would be a gross understatement.
The Bonnies (9-9, 2-3) snapped a pair of Philadelphia jinxes in winning for the first time at Temple last weekend and just the third-time ever at Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday – two teams predicted to be among the contenders for the A-10 crown.
Bona gets to face another contender this afternoon when it welcomes Saint Louis into the Reilly Center (4 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet). The Billikens (13-5, 2-2) have been picked to finish second in the conference.
Saint Louis leads the conference in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and has not allowed more than 46 points in its last four games.
Thus far, the Bonnies are 2-1 against teams predicted to finish in the top four of the A-10, with the wins coming against conference-favorite Saint Joseph’s and Temple (picked to finish fourth) and the loss to national No. 19 VCU (picked to finished third in the A-10). Bona is the only A-10 team to face those four schools.
Junior Matthew Wright has played a role in Bona’s recent wins as he’s 8-of-10 shooting from three-point range in his last two games. Wright is shooting 12 for 20 from beyond the arc against A-10 foes after shooting just 6 for 34 (17.6 percent) during the nonconference portion of the schedule. Bona’s five starters have accounted for nearly 92 percent of the team’s scoring the past two games.
In other Big 4 action, the University at Buffalo (7-12, 2-3) men hit the road to face Mid-American Conference East Division favorite Akron (14-4, 5-0) at 7 p.m. UB has ridden Javon McCrea to its last two victories as the junior forward has averaged 22.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in that span.
The Zips bring a 10-game winning streak into tonight’s contest (Radio 1230 AM).
In Big 4 women’s action today, UB faces Western Michigan at 2 p.m. at Alumni Arena (Radio 1340 AM), looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Prior to the game, UB will honor Brenna Doty Rousseau as part of its “Legend of the Hardwood” series honoring the school’s past men’s and women’s hoops greats. She ranks second all-time in scoring at UB with 1,703 points.
St. Bonaventure (9-10, 2-2) aims for its third straight win when it visits Saint’ Joseph’s (12-5, 3-0) for a 3 p.m. contest.