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Bona goes the distance, and then some; Nicholson scores 34 in three-overtime win

The schedule shows 14 games played for the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team.

For all practical purposes, though, that number reached 15 Saturday. The Bonnies once again kept fans in their seats long past regulation ended, defeating Charlotte, 92-88, in triple overtime.

It's the second time in less than a month Bona (9-5 overall, 1-0 Atlantic 10) has played at least three extra sessions, following a 112-107 home win over Ohio U. on Dec. 18 in quadruple overtime. It's the third time in six games the Bonnies have gone to overtime.

"We've played an extra game," Bona coach Mark Schmidt said of the combined 40 minutes in overtime. "There were times when we were done, but our guys, we found a way."

As thrilling as the win was for the Bonnies and their 3,438 fans in the Reilly Center, it was equally as frustrating for the 49ers (8-8, 0-2). Charlotte missed potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation, the first overtime and the second overtime.

"The games are going to be hard-fought, and we understand that," Schmidt said of opening league play.

Bonnies junior Andrew Nicholson was again the offensive star for his team, pouring in 34 points on an array of offensive moves. From a critical three-pointer (just his third of the season) to tie the game, 64-64, with 3:16 left in regulation, to a perfect 9 of 9 from the free-throw line, Nicholson scored from seemingly every spot on the floor.

"I would think that NBA guys would be all over him," Charlotte coach Alan Major said of Nicholson. "The thing about him that makes him unique is he's got a great touch. He's able to score over people. Not only that, but he's got range."

Nicholson played all 55 minutes in the game, as did senior point guard Ogo Adegboye (14 points, seven assists, six rebounds). It was the latter's driving layup with 24 seconds left that gave Bona an 89-86 lead in the third overtime.

Charlotte nearly tied the game on its next possession, but KJ Sherrill had a toe on the three-point line, cutting the Bona lead to one with 14 seconds left. Da'Quan Cook, who scored nine of his 11 points from the line for the Bonnies, was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit one of two free throws with 12 seconds left.

After Charlotte's Derrio Green missed a chance to tie it with three seconds left, Cook hit two more free throws to ice the win. The Bonnies got to the foul line 42 times, making 31 of them, while Charlotte was just 8 of 9.

Green, who entered the game as Charlotte's leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, finished with 14. He shot just 5 of 21 from the field, however, including 2 of 11 from three-point range.

Bonnies guard Michael Davenport drew the ironman task of checking the lightning-fast Green for most of the game.

"I thought Michael was there all the time. He kept him [Green] in front and made him shoot contested jump shots. He made it hard on him, and that's what we needed to do," Schmidt said.

Bona led by 12 at halftime, 40-28, and by as many as 11 with 11:02 left in regulation before the 49ers rallied. Charlotte shot 5 of 7 from three-point range in the second half, after starting the game 3 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half.

The 49ers took their first lead of the second half, 62-61, with 4:24 to play when Javarris Barnett (20 points, 10 rebounds) made one of his six three-pointers.

Cook tied the game, 68-68, after grabbing an offensive rebound and getting fouled with 12 seconds left. That set up the first of three Charlotte possessions that could have potentially ended the game:

At the end of regulation, Green's runner in the lane just missed.

With three seconds left in the first overtime, Jamar Briscoe (20 points) saw his jumper rim out, and Sherrill's attempted tip-in wouldn't go.

Adegboye had good defense and forced Green into an off-balance three-point attempt that was no good with five seconds left in the second overtime.

Schmidt said Bona's Ohio experience helped them late.

"That gave us some confidence that we've already been here. It wasn't new territory for us. Our guys didn't panic," he said.

After Barnett hit another trey with three minutes left in the third overtime, giving his team an 84-83 lead, Davenport answered with a layup and the Bonnies wouldn't trail again. Davenport finished with 15 points in 51 exhausting minutes.

"The main thing that was on our minds -- was let's not let this go in vain," he said. "Let's do what we've got to do to get that 'W,' so we can go to sleep."

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com