St. Bonaventure is on its longest winning streak in five seasons. It's off to its best start in seven years. And Tuesday night, when it plays highly regarded Kent at the Reilly Center, it can take a leap toward its first national ranking in 22 seasons.
Bona produced another victory in a season it hopes will culminate with an NCAA Tournament berth as it overcame a swoon at the end of regulation to outlast Florida International, 78-70, in overtime Saturday afternoon. The game was part of an Orange Bowl Classic tripleheader.
The Bonnies (6-1) blew a nine-point lead over the last 1:35 of regulation as FIU's Mashod Fairweather buried three three-point shots in the final 39 seconds. Bona pulled itself together in overtime, opening a quick five-point lead on a three-point shot by David Messiah Capers and a pair of free throws by Caswell Cyrus. Fairweather cooled, the lead held up and Bona's winning streak reached five games.
"I was happy we did not put our heads down when that happened," Bona coach Jim Baron said.
"We continued to play aggressive in the overtime."
The Bonnies received four votes in the last Associated Press Top 25 which, if the list extended that far, would put them 41st in the nation. They are making a move toward a spot in the Top 25 on the strength of an offense as well-rounded as a basketball. Peter Van Paassen (voted game MVP) and Patricio Prato led the way with 16 points apiece while the other three starters -- Messiah Capers, Cyrus and Tim Winn -- all scored 14. Van Paassen and Prato added eight rebounds apiece, Prato handed out eight assists and Winn, playing all 45 minutes, committed just three turnovers while producing four steals.
Still, Bona paid for inattentive defense down the stretch as Fairweather, averaging 20.6 points, began pounding open threes.
"You've got to give them a lot of credit," Baron said. "They hit the big shots in the last minutes. We knew that Fairweather could do that. He's a great scorer. We have to be a lot smarter (defensively) down the stretch."
Fairweather finished with 29 points.
The Bonnies get Kent (4-1) at 7:30 Tuesday at the Reilly Center. The Golden Flashes are 4-1, with their lone defeat a two-point setback at Michigan.
But the game will be Kent's first in 10 days.