The Bonnies held a 29-25 lead at the half, with Demitrius Conger leading the way with 5 points and 5 rebounds. The senior forward went 2-2 from the field in 16 minutes during the opening half. St. Bona was just 2-11 from behind the three-point line in the first, with Chris Johnson and Eric Mosley accounting for the three pointers. Bethune-Cookman kept the game close by hitting five threes in the opening half on eleven attempts. Malik Jackson led the way for the Wildcats with 8 points in the half. The junior also contributed 4 rebounds for the visitors.
Coach Mark Schmidt chalked up some of the early struggles to opening night nerves, but complimented the Wildcats defensive play in the game. The head coach thought his team was “tentative offensively, you know, at times we took shots too quickly and at times we were playing on our heels a little bit.”
Early foul trouble for the Wildcats led to 11 of St. Bona’s 29 points in the first half. The Bonnies shot 11-16 from the free throw line, thanks to 10 team fouls in the first for the Wildcats. Youssou Ndoye’s 6 rebounds led the way for the home team, who outrebounded Bethune-Cookman 20-14 in the half.
It took more than four minutes into the second half before either team made a bucket. Chris Johnson’s field goal 4:10 into the half gave the Bonnies a 33-28. The teams struggled to hit a basket until the 13:05 mark of the half. Conger and Johnson scored back-to-back three pointers to ignite the home crowd and take a 36-32 lead. The Wildcats had a chance to take the lead prior to the six-point outburst. St. Bona made 4 of 8 three point attempts in the second, for a 6-19 game total.
The largest lead of the night was a thirteen point advantage for the Bonnies in the second half. The deficit reached thirteen twice for Bethune-Cookman, before the Wildcats scored the next five points. The two teams would trade baskets for the remainder of the game, but the Bonnies would not give up the lead.
Eric Mosley came off of the bench to lead all Bonnies in scoring with 14 points. Coach Schmidt was pleased with the senior’s effort, adding that Mosley “came in, you know, the second half hit some big shots, and when they cut it to one…then Eric came in, hit some big shots to push [the score] back up into double digits.” Mosley logged 21 minutes off of the Bonnies bench in the game.
The Bonnies finished the night 44.7% shooting from the field (21-47). Conger scored 12 points with 7 rebounds, in a team-high 36 minutes. Ndoye added 7 points and 7 rebounds in the middle as well.
Prior to the tip all fans inside of the Reilly Center watched as two new banners were revealed to honor the 2011-12 team. Players and fans watched as the team's Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament banners were unveiled.
St. Bona has five days to prepare for their next non-conference test. St. Bonaventure travels to Cornell for a 7 o’clock tip-off on Wednesday.