OLEAN — No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn? St. Bonaventure has the entire off-season to rest.
Teams that neglect to defend — especially against opponents with a kid who has a chip on his shoulder — tend to stay home for the postseason. So do teams who fail to rebound. Toss in the fact that the opposition hasn’t won since late January, or on the road in conference play in 36 games, and you have the makings of the most troublesome loss on the year.
The Bonnies’ season came to an acrimonious end on Saturday at the Reilly Center when Atlantic 10 Conference bottom-feeding Fordham all-but eliminated the Bonnies from a spot in this week’s conference tournament with a 76-72 Senior Day loss in front of 4,515.
The defending A-10 Tournament champions were officially eliminated from participation after Charlotte defeated Saint Joseph’s at home, 52-40, on Saturday night.
Just last week the Bonnies were hoping for a seed as high as ninth, but after losing on the road at Dayton and the crushing setback against Fordham, a team that came in with a 10-game losing streak, Bona closed its season 14-15 overall, 7-9 in A-10.
It was the final game for seniors Demitrius Conger, Eric Mosley, Chris Johnson and Michael Davenport, who all started Saturday for the Bonnies.
“It’s disappointing and I feel bad for our seniors, you never want to go out that way losing at home your last game,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “But we didn’t deserve to win, Fordham played better. We didn’t defend them and we didn’t rebound with them, especially in the second half.”
On paper this looked to be a mismatch. The Bonnies were heavily favored against a struggling opponent with a roster so young coach Tom Pecora probably has to schedule nap time. The Reilly Center was loud and hungry for a Bonnies run that would breakdown the Rams, but it never came.
Instead, Fordham gained confidence with each possession and after a while St. Bonaventure, which trailed by nine points with over 12 minutes left, was playing catch-up.
“I just think we didn’t rise to the occasion,” said sophomore center Youssou Ndoye, who scored a career high 17 points, which equalled Conger and Mosley for team scoring honors.
“We just came in thinking we were going to beat the team without showing up,” Ndoye said. “Just like coach said, we need to show up every night. It’s not we’ve got a whole NBA team and NBA player on our team. The bottom line is we didn’t play hard enough and we didn’t rebound at all as a team.”
Fordham freshman Mandell Thomas, a native of Rochester, put an end to the Bona seniors’ careers with 22 points. The Rams (7-24, 3-13) led by a point with 22.1 seconds left when the heavily guarded Thomas hit a three-pointer for a 74-70 lead.
“We allowed him to get on a roll and he was playing with confidence,” Schmidt said. “It was a great shot.”
Mosley answered with a bank-in runner with 15.7 seconds remaining then Conger fouled Branden Frazier with 10.9 seconds on the clock. Mosley tried to rattle Frazier with trash talk, but the Fordham junior calmly sank both tries for a 76-72 advantage.
The Bonnies now have the entire offseason to soul search and find replacements for the departing seniors. While Davenport’s consistency wavered from game-to-game Conger, Mosley and Johnson combined to average 40 points.
“Last year we lost at La Salle before we went in,” Schmidt said. “We just [wanted] to get in, that was goal.”