St. Bonaventure (18-14) vs. Saint Joseph's (22-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 15, 1:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SBU 10-4, SJU 11-4. Away Record: SBU 4-9, SJU 8-4. Neutral Record: SBU 3-1, SJU 3-1. Conference Record: SBU 8-10, SJU 11-5. Series Record: Saint Joseph's leads, 47-19.
GAME NOTES: With a spot in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament final on the line, the fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's Hawks square off with the surprising St. Bonaventure Bonnies at the Barclays Center on Saturday afternoon.
St. Bonaventure, the ninth seed, didn't enjoy a very strong regular season, but it has had a brilliant start to the postseason, with wins over eighth- seeded La Salle (82-72), and an even bigger upset on Friday against top-seeded Saint Louis (71-68). The Bonnies are now 18-14 overall, with a win in Sunday's title game being their only shot at reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Joseph's was one of the four teams in the tournament to earn a bye through the first two rounds. When the Hawks finally got to work on Friday, they closed out a tough Dayton team, 70-67. The win came after they had lost two straight to end the regular season, and it improved their overall record to 22-9.
These teams met at the beginning of the month for the first and only time this season. The visiting Hawks earned the 83-74 victory in that contest, ending a three-game win streak for the Bonnies in the series, which it still trails by a sizable margin (47-19). The winner this time will face either VCU or George Washington in the title game on Sunday.
Jordan Gathers was the hero for the Bonnies on Friday, as his 3-pointer as time expired lifted them into the semifinals. Although Gathers hit the game- winner, it was Charlon Kloof and Matthew Wright who paced the Bonnies in the victory, with each netting 22 points.
Wright (16.6 ppg) and Kloof (11.9 ppg, 5.1 apg) have paved the way for the Bonnies all season, as two parts of a trio of double-digit scorers. Wright is shooting a career-high 36.6 percent from 3-point range, and also sinks 86.3 percent from the free-throw line. He connected on 5-of-8 from beyond the arc against the Billikens. Kloof isn't as lethal a threat from distance, but he is one of the better point guards in the league in terms of assists. Youssou Ndoye (10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.2 bpg) adds a bit of scoring punch, but is more valuable as a defender in the low post.
Saint Joseph's found itself trailing Dayton by a point (67-66) with less than 20 seconds left on the clock, but Langston Galloway nailed a 3-pointer to put the Hawks back on top. They then got a stop at the other end and held on for the win, with Bembry adding a free-throw.
The Hawks don't blow by opponents offensively, netting a modest 71.6 ppg this season, despite shooting a respectable 46.9 percent from the floor. However, they are a solid group on defense, limiting foes to 67.7 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting. Galloway (17.4 ppg) leads the way for Phil Martelli's squad, and he netted a game-high 21 points on 9-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc against Dayton. Ronald Roberts (14.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Bembry (12.3 ppg) and Halil Kanacevic (10.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.4 apg) all pitch in as well for Martelli, who runs a rather tight rotation.
After missing out on the tournament a year ago, the Bonnies have already made a successful return. The Cinderella run will come to a close on Saturday, as the Hawks' balance inside and out will win out over Wright and Kloof's play out on the wings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Joseph's 72, St. Bonaventure 64
03/15 10:40:14 ET