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St. Bonaventure bests VCU with 73-53 win in rematch of A-10 title game
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St. Bonaventure bests VCU with 73-53 win in rematch of A-10 title game

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VCU's seven-game win streak was snapped with a 73-53 loss.

With 14 minutes to play at St. Bonaventure on Friday night, and the game slipping away from VCU, the Rams committed a 12th turnover.

Turnovers, and the Bonnies’ ability to capitalize on them, had been an issue for VCU throughout. That 12th giveaway elicited a celebratory shout from St. Bonaventure’s Jalen Adaway.

And, as it turned out, the Bonnies had a lot to shout about Friday.

In a 73-53 win at the Reilly Center, St. Bonaventure dominated from the end of the first half on, mashing the gas pedal not dissimilar to its win over VCU at home last January.

And the Bonnies (10-3, 2-0 Atlantic 10) snapped the Rams’ win streak at seven, and handed them their first loss in A-10 play. VCU dropped to 10-5 overall and 3-1 in league competition.

Afterward, Rams coach Mike Rhoades said he felt his team showed a poor response to the adversity it faced Friday. And that compounded into what was VCU’s worst loss since it fell by 24, 80-56, at George Washington in February 2018.

"I'm going to call it as it is,” Rhoades said. “We just, we did not do a good job of some plays that didn't go our way, a turnover, a missed shot, a tough foul, whatever it may be. Our response today. And we haven't been like that.”

In what was a rematch of last season’s A-10 title game, which St. Bonaventure won 74-65 at Dayton’s UD Arena, the Rams were looking for redemption Friday. While VCU beat the Bonnies at the Siegel Center last winter, they endured a second-half collapse in their last visit to the Reilly Center, last January, losing a 15-point halftime lead in a 70-54 loss.

The Rams’ halftime advantage in Olean last year was wiped away with a 16-0 second-half run.

And, on Friday, St. Bonaventure used a 17-2 run from late in the first half and into the second half to turn a close game into one securely in hand.

“We got to be mentally tougher when some things aren't going our way,” Rhoades said.

As per one of the themes of the night, the field goal that helped ignite that run came off a VCU turnover, which led to a Quadry Adams fastbreak layup with 26 seconds to go before the half. Adams added another fastbreak layup right before the halftime buzzer, off a VCU miss, and the Bonnies led 34-28 at the break.

Then as VCU struggled to find points out of the break, St. Bonaventure kept flying. A pair of Adaway baskets, the second a 3, capped the 17-2 spurt. And the Bonnies held a 46-30 lead with 14:54 to play.

Also, Vince Williams picked up a fourth foul at the 17:55 mark and exited. He didn’t return until the 10:54 mark.

Levi Stockard III was whistled four four fouls in five total minutes of play, and wasn’t on the floor for the game’s final 12:36. Ace Baldwin was whistled for a third foul with 12:25 to play.

“Those guys can't get in foul trouble for us,” Rhoades said. “And some of them were silly fouls, too. Like you just can't get on the road against St. Bonaventure. You got to be locked in.”

After the 17-2 run, VCU never got closer to 14 the rest of the way. The Rams shot 34.5% (10 of 29) in the second half.

Tsohonis, who went 4 of 8 from deep, led the Rams with 14 points. Williams had 12 points, four rebounds, three steals and three assists.

A flip of the script bit VCU from the early goings, and helped propel St. Bonaventure to a lead it held for all but 1:33 of Friday’s contest.

The Bonnies cashed in effectively on Rams turnovers — a total of 18 points off 13 VCU giveaways. Rhoades believed the struggles with turnovers broke the Rams’ will.

“It just seemed like it broke our will from playing a defense that we're capable of playing, against a really good offensive team,” Rhoades said. “And we compounded mistakes by our approach. By our emotional response to it.

A little more than eight minutes in, St. Bonaventure already had seven points off five VCU turnovers, and a 12-11 lead.

Then, after a 3 by Tsohonis with 10:25 to play before the break that made it a 16-14 game, the Rams slipped into a four-and-a-half-minute scoring drought during which the Bonnies built their largest first-half lead, 23-14, an advantage padded by a Dominick Welch 3.

Three-pointers from Williams and Baldwin pulled VCU out of the drought. And the Rams used a 6-0 spurt, capped by a Jalen DeLoach dunk, to pull to within 29-28 with 1:56 left before the half.

But, again, a turnover hurt VCU, to lead to the Adams fastbreak layup that helped start the Bonnies’ march to a third win over the Rams in the teams’ last four meetings.

St. Bonaventure shot 43.1% overall on Friday. Adaway went on to finish a career-high 25 points, plus eight rebounds. Jaren Holmes added 17 points and five rebounds. Kyle Lofton had 13 points, six assists and a career-high-tying five steals.

VCU returns home to face a tough Davidson team on Tuesday, that won a nation-leading 13th straight game at Richmond on Friday. Rhoades said the Rams, back from St. Bonaventure, will have Saturday off.

"And make [the loss] hurt even more,” he said. “So we can come in on Sunday and Monday and respond. Respond by being about the right stuff."

FG FT Reb

VCU M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Ward 19 1-2 0-0 1-3 1 2 2

Williams 30 4-5 2-2 0-4 3 4 12

Baldwin 30 3-10 0-0 1-4 5 3 7

Curry 23 4-8 1-2 0-1 1 0 9

Nunn 27 0-7 0-0 1-2 3 2 0

Tsohonis 24 4-10 2-2 0-2 0 1 14

DeLoach 18 2-3 0-0 0-4 0 4 4

Brown-Jones 11 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 2 2

Kern 7 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Banks 6 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 0

Stockard 5 1-1 1-2 0-0 1 4 3

Totals 200 20-52 6-8 3-24 15 22 53

Percentages: FG .385, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Tsohonis 4-8, Williams 2-3, Baldwin 1-3, Banks 0-1, Curry 0-2, Nunn 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocks: 3 (Nunn 2, Stockard). Turnovers: 13 (Baldwin 4, Nunn 2, Stockard 2, Williams 2, Curry, DeLoach, Tsohonis). Steals: 6 (Williams 3, Baldwin, Banks, Curry).

FG FT Reb

ST. BONA. M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Osunniyi 36 3-9 3-6 2-7 3 2 9

Adaway 40 8-14 7-7 1-8 0 3 25

Holmes 37 4-9 8-8 0-5 3 2 17

Lofton 38 3-8 5-6 0-2 6 0 13

Welch 34 1-7 0-0 3-7 2 4 3

Adams 10 2-3 0-0 0-1 1 1 4

Coulibaly 4 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Totals 200 22-51 23-27 6-30 15 12 73

Percentages: FG .431, FT .852. 3-Point Goals: 6-21, .286 (Adaway 2-5, Lofton 2-6, Holmes 1-4, Welch 1-5, Osunniyi 0-1). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocks: 5 (Osunniyi 3, Adaway, Lofton). Turnovers: 9 (Lofton 3, Holmes 2, Adams, Adaway, Coulibaly, Welch). Steals: 8 (Lofton 5, Adams, Adaway, Welch).

VCU 28 25 — 53

St. Bonaventure 34 39 — 73

wepps@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6442

Twitter: @wayneeppsjr

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