ALLEGANY – The St. Bonaventure students defeated the Bonnies, 83-77, in overtime.
Man bites dog. Deer shoots hunter. Go figure.
The basketball game against Virginia Commonwealth at a sold out, raucous Reilly Center Saturday will go down in Bona history. For an embarrassing reason.
Bona’s Matt Mobley hit what should have been the winning three-point shot with 0.5 seconds left in regulation to give the Bonnies a 66-65 lead. But a throng of a couple hundred Bona students stormed the court.
Bona was assessed an administrative technical foul, and VCU was awarded one free throw. JeQuan Lewis hit it to send the game into overtime, 66-66.
Then VCU used its superior size inside to outscore the Bonnies, 17-11, in the extra session.
“Great crowd, great atmosphere, just a shame of how it ended,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt.
“If we had won that game, it would have been one of the greatest games in the history of the school,” Schmidt said. “For it to be taken away because of the inability to have something in place to prevent the students and other people from storming the court, we’ve got to do a better job.”
What should have been a fantastic Bona rally from seven points down in the final 1:40 became the fourth straight win for VCU, the top team in the Atlantic 10 Conference. VCU is 18-5 overall and 7-2 in conference. Bona fell to 14-8 and 6-4.
It was clear that time had not expired when Mobley’s shot went in. The game clock read 0.4 seconds. The ball bounced along the baseline after going through the net, and a Bona security worker dressed in black inexplicably picked it up. He walked a few steps. A VCU player appeared to take it from him, not from the official, and threw it inbounds. For some reason, the game clock started and went to 0.0. It happened quickly, and the students bolted from the far corner of the stands, opposite the Bona bench, to the middle of the court.
VCU had not called time out. It had not inbounded the ball from an official. It was apparent to calm observers that the officials were going to review the play to check the exact time remaining. Would the students have rushed the court if the clock had not gone to 0.0? Maybe not.
There were not enough security along the sideline of the court to hold them back.
Schmidt did not blame the referees.
“The rule is a rule and the referee has to call it,” Schmidt said. “I don’t blame the referees.”
Schmidt didn’t blame the students, either.
“We wouldn’t have won without the students, with what they brought and the excitement they gave our guys, the energy they gave our guys, it’s irreplaceable,” Schmidt said. “They don't know better. . . . We gotta do a better job. I'm not putting blame on any one person. But that can't happen.”
Schmidt had called two times out in the final 40 seconds.
“The frustrating thing is I called two time outs, so we have at least two minutes where we could have made an announcement,” he said. “I just thought that you make an announcement and tell the students if you storm it you may get a technical foul.”
Bona Athletic Director Tim Kenney said immediately after the final buzzer that he thought there were enough security personnel around the court.
“You can only do so much,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to look at it.”
“The disappointing thing about it is it’s not a court-storming game, not that it ever should be.”
Kenney was referring to the fact VCU, while leading the A-10, is not a ranked team.
“Just a crazy game,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “I really don't know what to say, and it's not often I'm at a loss for words.”
“I thought the crowd today was great,” Wade said. “I thought the support was tremendous. We’ll certainly take what happened. But I thought the students gave St. Bonaventure a great advantage. . . . I feel sorry that something like that maybe cost them the game.”
Mobley, the 6-foot-3 junior, scored a career-high 34 points and set a Bona record for most three-pointers in a game by hitting 9 of 15 shots behind the arc.
He hit a corner three with 1:37 left to pull Bona within 65-61. Jaylen Adams made it 65-63 by hitting two free throws with 1:07 left. Then Bona played superb defense, forcing two VCU misses, before getting the ball back with 11 seconds left. A time out with 3 seconds left allowed Schmidt to draw up the final play of regulation, with Mobley getting the inbounds pass in the corner.
“It was a reverse flare screen, and I caught it in the corner,” Mobley said. “He closed out so I took a dribble and stepped back. It wasn’t really a good look but I just shot it and it went in.”
VCU got 20 points from 6-7, 250-pound forward Mo Alie-Cox and 18 from 6-7 forward Justin Tillman. The Rams outscored Bona in the paint, 44-12, and held a 42-30 rebounding edge.
But a crowd of 5,480 saw Bona hang in. Bona made just 13 turnovers against the fierce VCU defense. Adams scored 21, 14 via free throws. Big freshman Amadi Ikpeze gave Bona 18 minutes and helped prevent the lane disadvantage from being worse.
“It’s disappointing but we got the 24-hour rule,” Schmidt said. “We’ll get up tomorrow, go back to work then watch the Patriots at 6 hopefully get a victory.”