ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Call it a doubleheader. But with a few days in between each contest.
In another 2020-21 schedule curveball, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team will face Davidson, the team they defeated 69-58 at home on Sunday afternoon, once again on Wednesday. This one, though, will be at Belk Arena in North Carolina.
Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said he has never experienced playing the same team in such a short span. While the veteran head coach admits his inexperience in this rare situation, it’s one both teams must deal with. Neither team has a real edge.
“Whatever advantage we have, that’s what they have. Whatever disadvantage that we have, that’s what they have,” Schmidt said during his Tuesday press conference. “It’s the same. ….Maybe once in a while, you’ll have the week off and play the same team again. But this is unusual. I don’t think anybody has an advantage.”
Despite his team’s solid all-around effort on Sunday when it made a season-high 11 3-point shots and held one of the league’s most explosive offenses in check, Schmidt knows his team must play better to beat Davidson twice.
Although Davidson registered 58 team points — the second fewest the Wildcats have scored in a game this season — Bona will need to do a much better job defending the perimeter. The Wildcats, the conference’s top 3-point shooting team, made 13 of those shots on Sunday. If it were not for Bona having its most impressive day from deep, things might have played out differently on Sunday.
Two familiar faces in particular burned Bona at the Reilly Center. Senior standout guard Kellan Grady, who ranks sixth in the conference in scoring, scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-8 on 3-pointers).
“You’re not going to keep him (down),” Schmidt said of Grady. “...He can shoot the ball from deep. He can take you off the bounce (dribble). He’s got a middle game with that little floater. Guys that can score in all three phases are difficult.”
Sophomore sharpshooter Hyunjung Lee, who leads the conference in 3-point percentage, also scored 18 points in the contest. Each one of them came from beyond the arch (6-of-9 3-point shooting).
Davidson rarely gets beat on the boards as they have a plus 6.8 rebounding margin, good for second in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In prior matchups with Bona, Davidson controlled the glass on both ends. The most lopsided margin was last February when Davidson, in a 93-66 victory, finished with a 41-25 rebounding advantage.
On Sunday, though, Bona took it to them, pulling down 39 rebounds to 25. The Bonnies had a 10-6 edge on the offensive glass, scoring 12 second-chance points to Davidson’s 7, and a 29-19 advantage on the defensive glass. The Bonnies will need a repeat effort in that category to win.
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” Schmidt said. “Everybody plays better at home. ...We have to play better (Wednesday) than we did in game one, in all facets. Defensively, getting to the 3-point shooters. Rebounding ...All of it. We have to execute at both ends better if we expect to win.”
The Bonnies, a team with so much on the line on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament in so many bracket projections, know the challenge.
“Our guys are happy to play,” Schmidt said. “No matter if it’s Davidson three or four times, it doesn’t matter. Our guys want to play. This is the next game on the schedule, and it’s a game that we have to play really well in order for us to win. It’s the hand we are dealt.”
Conference Standings and NCAA Tournament Projections:
The Bonnies (9-3 conference record) sit at No. 2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, one game behind Virginia Commonwealth (10-3 conference record). A win over Davidson Wednesday would once again bring the two clubs to a tie at the top.
Bona currently sits at No. 37 in the NCAA net rankings, the main tool the selection committee uses to determine who makes the big dance and who doesn’t. Bracketology wise, Bona is teetering on the edge of in and out. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects the Bonnies as one of the last four teams in. NCAA.com’s Andy Katz, on the other hand, has Bona as a No. 11 seed in his most recent projections.
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