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St. Bonaventure (17-10) at La Salle (19-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tom Gola Arena (4,000) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: St. Bonaventure 11-2, La Salle 12-2. Away Record: USt. Bonaventure 6-7, La Salle 6-8. Neutral Record: St. Bonaventure 0-1, La Salle 1-1. Conference Record: St. Bonaventure 10-5, La Salle 8-7. Series Record: St. Bonaventure leads, 12-11.
GAMES NOTES: With both teams already certain of where they will be playing in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the La Salle Explorers will meet up at Tom Gola Arena this afternoon in the regular- season finale.
With its 98-93 double overtime victory over Saint Joseph's on Wednesday coupled with Massachusetts' loss to Temple the same night, St. Bonaventure is guaranteed one of the top four seeds in the A-10 Tournament and a bye. The Bonnies have been playing extremely well coming down the stretch and have won five of their last six games, including the last four straight entering this contest.
This will be the first meeting between these squads this season giving La Salle a chance to even up the all-time series, which St. Bonaventure currently leads 12-11. St. Bonaventure swept the season series a year ago only to fall to the Explorers in the first round of the conference tournament.
La Salle downed George Washington 60-56 on Wednesday and with the victory secured a first-round home game in the A-10 Tournament which begins on Tuesday. La Salle had lost back-to-back games and five of six going into the game with the Colonials. The Explorers' 19 wins this year are the most since they won 20 in the 1991-92 season
St. Bonaventure's clash with Saint Joseph's was one for the ages as the neither team held a lead greater than six and needed two extra frames to decide the outcome. Two free throws from the Hawks' C.J. Aiken at the end of regulation sent the game to the first overtime and both teams went back and forth in the first extra period, tied 84-84. St. Bonaventure then hit back-to- back three pointers to take the lead for good, 95-89, with 1:30 remaining in the second overtime.
In the marathon game, the Bonnies had five players in double figures with none more impressive than Andrew Nicholson who poured in 32 points and also brought down 14 rebounds. The senior forward (17.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg) has made a strong case to be considered for A-10 Player of the Year and has been even better down the stretch averaging in 29.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game over the last four contests. Nicholson wasn't the only player to record a double-double as Demetrius Conger (11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) also managed the feat by scoring 16 points and bringing in 10 rebounds. Conger and Nicholson have led the team this season out of the frontcourt with the highest scorer in the backcourt being Matthew Wright (7.5 ppg). The Bonnies are averaging 70.7 points per game as a team, which would be respectable in most conferences but is near the middle (8th) in the A-10. The Bonnies match their offensive output with 64.4 points allowed per game.
La Salle shot at a 48.9 percent clip and forced 17 turnovers to hold off George Washington on Wednesday. The game still came down to the wire with the Colonials rallying from a 57-47 deficit with 3:17 remaining to bring the game within one. The Explorers then converted well enough at the free throw line to hold on.
The Explorers are third in the conference in both scoring (73.2 ppg) and field goal percentage (.461). The defense has been less successful but still decent at 65.6 points allowed per game. La Salle is a team that is heavily reliant on its backcourt with its four top scorers all playing on the perimeter. Senior Earl Pettis (15.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is the team's leading scorer and was in double figures on Wednesday with 14 points. Ramon Galloway (14.3 ppg), Tyreek Duren (13.4 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Sam Mills (11.2 ppg) make up the rest of the double- digit threats. Freshman forward Jerrell Wright (9.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the main threat on the frontline and is coming off of a team-leading 15-point effort on Wednesday night.
La Salle is a different team at the Gola Center as the Explorers own a 12-2 record on their home floor. With both teams looking past this matchup towards the A-10 Tournament the Explorers' homecourt advantage and stellar guard play will prove to be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 74, St. Bonaventure 65
03/03 10:41:46 ET