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Burton, St. Bonaventure earn ESPN respect as Bonnies climb to #16 in the nation

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By John Anderson

On Sunday night, a national audience on ESPN watched the St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team defeat Marquette, 70-54 to win the ESPN Charlestown Classic. The tournament was a fundraiser for Shiners Children’s Hospitals.

The charity was the focus. But for the university, it was a double victory. Not only did the Bonnies play shut-down defense and dazzled the large Bona crowd with dunks, great passing and shooting, the team jumped from No. 22 to No. 16 in the Associated Press national poll.

The arena in Charlestown was packed with Bonnies fans as the team knocked off three powerhouse schools to win the title. The announcers on ESPN raved about the school, the team, head coach Mark Schmidt and the fans so many times there was enough quotes to write a second media guide.

A one-minute special during a time out featured the fans and the famous bar, The Burton (if you haven’t had a Burton Burger, cross it off your bucket list, soon) and the way the team and coaches interact with the community.

Here are some reports from the tournament courtesy of Scott Eddy, who has a very busy job as the assistant athletic director for athletics communications:

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team continues to rise in the national polls as the Bonnies jumped to No. 16 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 released Monday afternoon.

St. Bonaventure (5-0) is the biggest mover of the week after an impressive run at the Charleston Classic that saw the Bonnies capture the tournament championship following victories over Boise State, Clemson and Marquette.

In Thursday’s Charleston Classic opener, St. Bonaventure held off Mountain West foe Boise State, 67-61, before rallying from a 14-point second half deficit to get past ACC member Clemson, 68-65, in the semifinals. The Bonnies were then dominant in the championship game against Marquette of the Big East, stifling a previously undefeated Golden Eagles squad that was fresh off a win over 10th-ranked Illinois, 70-54. Marquette was one of the teams receiving votes in this week’s poll.

Bona’s national ranking continues an upward movement that saw the squad slot at No. 23 in the preseason poll before moving up a spot to No. 22 in Week 2. This week’s ranking represents the highest in a national poll for the program since a No. 12 rank Jan. 19, 1971, the last time St. Bonaventure was ranked prior to this season.

The Bonnies owned 517 voter’s points this week, narrowly missing out on the top-15 behind 15th-ranked Tennessee with 558. Gonzaga leads the polling for the third consecutive week, ahead of UCLA, Purdue, Kansas and Duke in the top-five.

By jumping up six spots, the Bonnies moved up more than any other previously ranked team in this week’s polling. Arizona and BYU enter the rankings for the first time at No. 17 and 18 respectively.

In the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, the Bonnies jumped eight spots and were ranked No. 16 there as well. They had been No. 24 in the preseason rankings. There was no Coaches’ Poll last week. 

SBU returns to action this Saturday afternoon with another intriguing matchup as longtime mid-major power Northern Iowa visits the Reilly Center for a 2 p.m. battle. Tickets are available at GoBonnies.com/Tickets.

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For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @GoBonnies and get men’s basketball updates @BonniesMBB. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies

Here is the story on the game:

CHARLESTON, S.C. – What a week to remember in Charleston.

Following a run of outstanding efforts and amazing fan support that captured the attention of the nation, St. Bonaventure earned the Charleston Classic championship in convincing fashion over Marquette Sunday night in TD Arena, 70-54.  

Against a red-hot Marquette squad which had won five in a row, including an upset of No. 10 Illinois to start the week before dispatching Ole Miss and West Virginia in Charleston, the Bonnies were at their best.

No. 22/24 St. Bonaventure (5-0) stifled Marquette offensively after the Golden Eagles entered the day averaging 78 points per game over their first five contests.

Kyle Lofton was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after posting 12 points, four assists and two steals. Jaren Holmes was excellent again as well, joining Lofton on the All-Tournament Team with his second double-double of the week: 19 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.

Osun Osunniyi was dominant in the post, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Unlike their first two games of the week where they needed to rally in the second half, the Bonnies played an excellent first 20 minutes.

After a back-and-forth opening 12 minutes, the Bonnies employed an 8-0 run for a 21-15 advantage, forcing a Marquette timeout.

Later in the stanza, the Bonnies held Marquette without a point for a four-minute stretch that allowed the Bona lead to grow to 10. The Golden Eagles got a bucket before intermission to send the clubs to the break with SBU in possession of a 33-25 edge.

St. Bonaventure put the momentum into overdrive immediately after halftime, sprinting out to a 45-26 cushion while the Marquette cold spell extended.

By then, the Bonnies defense was in full lockdown mode. Marquette could not find a field goal for nearly eight minutes to begin the second half, watching the Bonnies build a 22-point advantage.

Marquette could never gather any traction against the Bonnies defense after playing their fourth game of the week. The Golden Eagles starting backcourt finished without a single made field goal as they struggled to reach 30 points until the clock clicked under 10 minutes to play. 

Marquette was limited to just 30 percent from the floor after halftime and 22 percent from distance while committing 17 turnovers against the Bona defense. 

Jalen Adaway helped orchestrate the surge at the start of the second half for St. Bonaventure, finishing with 14 points. 

GAME NOTES

  • The victory represents head coach Mark Schmidt‘s 250th win with St. Bonaventure.
  • Marquette went 0-for-8 from the floor to open the second half and began the game 11-for-40 overall.
  • Marquette was averaging over 44 percent from the floor for the season prior to Sunday, but finished at 30 percent (17-56) vs. the Bonnies.
  • SBU owned a 40-36 edge on the boards and a massive 50-18 advantage in points in the paint. 
  • St. Bonaventure scored its first win over a Big East team since winning at St. John’s Dec. 7, 2010, 67-66. The Bonnies defeated members of the ACC, Big East and Mountain West to claim the Charleston Classic crown this week.
  • The Bonnies have won championships in each of their last two regular season tournaments. Bona clinched the Boca Beach Classic title in December 2019.
  • St. Bonaventure is the second Atlantic 10 team to win the Charleston Classic championship, joining UMass in 2013. The Bonnies are just the second non-Power 6 conference team to win the Charleston Classic title; the tournament began in 2008.

UP NEXT
The Bonnies return home to the Reilly Center to play host to Northern Iowa Saturday. Game time is set for 2 p.m. and tickets are available at GoBonnies.com/Tickets.

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