OLEAN, N.Y. – The Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team battled back from a 12-point deficit but ultimately fell just short at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night, going down to St. Bonaventure by a final score of 70-67.
Saint Joseph’s (9-10 overall, 4-4 Atlantic 10) used a 16-2 run midway through the second half to take a 56-54 lead with 9:26 remaining after a pair of free throws by sophomore Nick Robinson. A basket by junior Chris Clover and a free throw from senior James Demery on either side of an SBU basket put the Hawks ahead, 59-56, but Nelson Kaputo tied it for the Bonnies with a three-pointer at the 7:18 mark.
Courtney Stockard put St. Bonaventure (13-6 overall, 3-4 Atlantic 10) back on top with a pair of free throws, but redshirt sophomore Pierfrancesco Oliva hit one of two at the line and senior James Demery converted a layup with just under six minutes remaining to nudge the Hawks back in front at 62-61.
After Jaylen Adams hit a free throw to tie the game, but another Demery layup and a Robinson dunk gave the Hawks a four-point cushion at 66-62 with just over four minutes to go. Kaputo answered with a three at the 3:48 mark, but the teams went scoreless over the next minute-plus until Demery notched a steal and hit one of two from the charity stripe to make it a 67-65 game with 2:36 on the clock.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, LaDarien Griffin tied the game with a dunk at the 1:24 mark before Adams put the Bonnies ahead, 69-67, on a layup with 18.5 seconds to play. An offensive foul call on the ensuing possession forced the Hawks to foul; Stockard hit one of his two free throws to give the Hawks a chance, but Robinson’s last-second heave fell short and the Bonnies came away with the victory.
Both teams started slow on Wednesday night as St. Bonaventure took an early three-point lead before an Oliva three tied the game at 4-4 with 15:49 to go in the first half. It was a back-and-forth affair for much of the period as the Bonnies took their biggest lead of the half when a three-pointer by Adams put SBU on top 14-10, with 11:52 to go.
The Hawks answered with five straight on a layup by Demery and a three from freshman Taylor Funk to go ahead, 15-14, with 10:33 remaining in the frame. The teams traded baskets before Griffin gave the Bonnies a 22-19 lead, but Funk answered with a deep ball to tie the game with 7:32 left in the half.
Saint Joseph’s would score eight of the next 12 points as Demery tallied four and both Robinson and Clover added a bucket apiece as SJU opened its largest lead of the night at 30-24 with 4:04 to go in the half, but the Bonnies answered with six consecutive points to tie the game at 30 with 2:02 on the clock.
Oliva would briefly give the Hawks the lead once again, but Funk was called for both a personal and technical foul with a minute remaining in the half; the Bonnies would convert three of the four free throws before junior Markell Lodge hit one out of two himself with no time on the clock to send the teams into the break tied at 33.
The Hawks scored the first bucket of the second half, but the Bonnies responded with 11 consecutive points to take a 44-35 lead with 16:58 to go. The teams would go on to trade baskets, but an Idris Taqqee free throw at the 13:48 mark gave St. Bonaventure its largest lead of the game at 52-40.
SJU then used an 8-2 spurt, including five consecutive points from Robinson, to take the lead for the first time since the opening shot of the half.
Robinson and Demery led the way for the Hawks with 13 points apiece, while Oliva and Newkirk added a team-high seven rebounds. Adams led all scorers with 16 points, while while Stockard pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
“It’s the man in the mirror; under 10 turnovers and we’d walk out of here with a win,” head coach Phil Martelli said after the game. “Our oldest guys with nine turnovers. You shoot 12-for-21 from the foul line (in the second half); that’s not good enough. We did the right things; we put pressure on the defense by playing downhill and then we couldn’t convert. We can’t win on the road shooting 57 percent (from the line) and we can’t win with 11 turnovers. We average nine (per game) and that was the goal, to be under 10.”
The Hawks return to Philadelphia for their final non-conference tilt of the season, a road contest against Penn. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night at the Palestra. The game will be air on both NBC Sports Philadelphia and 1210 AM.