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Bonnies' effort goes by the boards

Mark Schmidt glanced at the statistics and concluded St. Bonaventure was beaten up physically by Marshall. Plain and simple.

The Thundering Herd dominated inside, inhaling more defensive rebounds than St. Bonaventure's total in the Bonnies' 74-65 loss on Sunday in front of 3,229 at the Reilly Center.

The Bonnies (7-5) looked flat from the tip, made a push late in the second half, then eventually flatlined, not exactly the way to ring in the New Year or the kind of performance Schmidt was seeking before Atlantic 10 Conference play kicks in this week.

The St. Bonaventure team that looked so promising in its overtime loss on Dec. 23 to Virginia Tech, one of the preseason favorites in the ACC, appeared overmatched against a Marshall team (10-3) that was picked in preseason annuals to finish in the middle of the pack of Conference USA.

Marshall pounded the glass, led by Johnny Thomas' 12 boards, and outrebounded the Bonnies, 39-23, including 27 defensive boards. St. Bonaventure didn't have a player with more than four rebounds. The rebound shortcomings created a pair of 15-point deficits in the final 20 minutes from which the Bonnies couldn't recover.

"I'm a big advocate on the team that's the most physical is going to win," said Schmidt, the Bonnies' fourth-year coach. "When you get dominated like that physically inside, it's hard to win."

The rebounding totals were shocking, to say the least. Bona came into Sunday's game ranked 23rd nationally in rebound margin at plus-7.7.

"I thought the game was lost," Schmidt said, "from a rebounding standpoint."

And, from a scoring standpoint. Junior Andrew Nicholson did his job, wrestling through double and triple teams while scoring a game-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, but the rest of his teammates combined for just 36 points on 12-of-54 shooting and 3 of 14 from beyond the arc.

Demitrius Conger (4 of 8, 12 points) and Da'Quan Cook (1 of 2) were the only Bona players who shot above 50 percent. Michael Davenport, the team's second-leading scorer, was 4 for 12 for 14 points.

Ogo Adegboye was especially cold. The senior point guard was 2 for 8 for five points, and didn't score his first field goal until 1:13 left in the game. When Matthew Wright scored on a spinning layup with 40 seconds left, it was the Bonnies' first bench points of the game. For the season, St. Bonaventure's reserves have scored just 45 points.

"We knew Nicholson was going to get his but we wanted to make other people beat us instead of him," said Marshall's Shaquille Johnson, who scored 14 points off the bench. "We knew that [Adegboye] controlled their team, he loved to get his and [Davenport] was a shooter."

Marshall led 48-33 following a three-point field goal by Damier Pitts, who poured in a team-high 25 points for the Herd, but St. Bonaventure was able to cut that led to 55-52 after a steal and dunk by Cook with 6:56 remaining. They cut the lead to three for the last time on two free throws by Nicholson with 4:33 left.

Then Johnson hit a jumper and Tirrell Baines tipped in a miss by Johnson. Johnson popped another jump shot and Baines added two free throws and the lead was back to double digits. The Bonnies couldn't get closer than seven points the rest of the game.

St. Bonaventure plays at Arkansas-Little Rock on Wednesday in a return game from an in-season home-and-home series, and begins A-10 play on Saturday at the RC against Charlotte.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com