Four Mile Brewing Post Game: Dayton 76, St. Bonaventure 72
By Vinny Pezzimenti
St. Bonaventure was aiming to go into the bigger, crappier version of Olean and walk away with a victory for the second straight year. And, for much of the afternoon, the Bonnies were in position to pull off the upset.
SBU established a 15-point lead during the first half and hung around after giving up their advantage in the second half. Twice the Bonnies had shots to take the lead in the final minutes. Twice they missed … first a drive by Matt Mobley, then a 3-pointer by David Andoh.
The result: Dayton 76, St. Bonaventure 72.
The Bonnies (16-10, 8-6 Atlantic 10) started to lose control after pulling ahead 26-11 with 7 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half. UD (21-5, 12-2) countered with nine straight points and trailed 34-28 at half.
SBU was still in good shape. Then, the second half started. The Flyers started with an 11-1 run and later added a 9-1 run.
The Bonnies’ last lead was 43-42 with 12:15 left. And, even though UD only led by a possession or two the rest of the way, you never felt great about SBU’s chances.
Dayton’s senior trio of Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke torched the Bonnies for 48 points.
Jaylen Adams (35 points) was Bona’s only viable offensive option, but even he went cold during a large stretch to start the second half.
The Bonnies squandered their last opportunity for a signature victory. They will have to win the A-10 tournament to go to the NCAA tourney. They still have much work to do to make the NIT.
Moment of the Game
When Kendall Pollard returned with 5:14 remaining. Pollard went out with a bruise under his chin after banging Adams on a foul with 7:49 left. The Bonnies closed the gap to 56-55 with Pollard on the bench. The round mound came back to the floor and scored five in a row to give UD a 64-57 edge.
The officials made the mistake – even after video review – of giving Josh Ayeni a technical foul early in the second half after he battled Cooke for a loose ball. After Ayeni tried the wrestle the ball free, he was pushed away by Pollard and struck by Cooke’s flailing arm. The technical – if one was to be called – belonged to Pollard.
Instead, UD hit an ensuing free throw and Pollard countered with a 4-point play. The turn of events fueled the Flyers’ initial first half run.
Griffin growing on us
LaDarien Griffin continues to grow on us. Considered an afterthought at the beginning of the season, the sophomore has developed into a solid piece in the Bonnies’ rotation. It should be noted that his 3.5 defensive plus/minus rating leads the Bonnies.
Griffin’s length and athleticism in SBU’s zone bothered the Flyers early. As the Bonnies mounted their first-half lead, he had a steal, block and put back bucket. When Griffin went to the bench, UD commenced its come back from down 15.
The Bonnies were plus-5 with Griffin on the floor Saturday. Taking him out of the game was an error on Mark Schmidt’s part.
Gregg, frontcourt struggles
Denzel Gregg followed up his career game against La Salle with a dud. The senior was 4-14 from the floor for 8 points. He only attempted one free throw. Gregg has had a solid season, but his inconsistent play has been the difference between the Bonnies being an NCAA bubble team instead of 16-10 and hoping for a run at the NIT.
SBU’s other big people also struggled. Gregg, Ayeni, Andoh, and Amadi Ikpeze combined to go 8-22 from the field for 18 points.
The Bonnies are at Saint Joseph’s Wednesday before returning to the Reilly Center to face Duquense on homecoming weekend.