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Losses pile up for Bona Charlotte keeps Bonnies winless in Atlantic 10

OLEAN -- It's the same old stuff, different day.

St. Bonaventure dropped a 76-60 decision to Atlantic 10 newcomer Charlotte in front of 3,172 at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night. It was the ninth straight loss for the Bonnies, who remain winless in the Atlantic 10 (6-13 overall, 0-8).

"I thought our young men gave a fantastic effort tonight," Bona coach Anthony Solomon said. "I thought our tempo gave us an opportunity to have a chance to be successful this evening. . . . We couldn't make enough shots during the second half. We had a couple of opportunities, but I was pleased with our effort tonight."

While Solomon may be happy with the effort, the results continue to be the same. As the story line has gone this season, the Bonnies had productive spurts. They started the game well, keeping pace with Charlotte until the final five minutes of the first half.

After a three-pointer by Ahmad Smith tied the game, 22-22, with 5:33 left, the 49ers went on a 14-4 run to close out the half, taking a 36-26 halftime lead.

The Bonnies made a 12-2 run in the second half, closing the gap to seven points (60-53) with 5:04 to play.

"We just did a good job getting into the passing lanes," Bona's Patrick Lee said. "Patrick [Lottin] and Isiah [Carson] got some steals and some fast-break points that gave us some momentum to get us back into the game."

Charlotte swung that momentum when De'Angelo Alexander hit a three-pointer to put Charlotte back up by 10 and effectively close the game.

For Charlotte (12-8, 5-3), the game felt a bit like a must-win after losing three of its previous four games. Taking charge for the 49ers was Alexander, who had a career-high 34 points, and Curtis Withers, who had a double-double at halftime and finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

"I think [Alexander and Withers] made a couple of big plays," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. "We had a couple of key plays on both ends. When you're struggling and losing and the game is close, it seems like two or three plays that really change the flow of the game."

Now at the halfway point of the conference season, the Bonnies are three games out of the 12th and final A-10 playoff spot. The focus for Solomon continues to be the players' attitude and mind-set, intent that they won't quit on the season.

"Though our record is what it is, I hope we can step away from it and are able to find some positives through this, no matter what our record is," Solomon said. "We've played eight conference games and I've told them, we're about four minutes away from being 4-4, 10-9 and being the major talk of college basketball because it would have been a great turnaround. . . . In the second half of conference play, I want us to be ready to use our past experience to be better on both ends of the floor and that includes me as well."

Smith and Lee each had 15 points for Bona while Paul Williams notched 10 rebounds. Smith added six rebounds, giving him 504 for his career. He is the 20th player in school history to accumulate 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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