Jim Baron's 100th victory as head basketball coach at St. Bonaventure was one he had to sweat out Thursday night at the Reilly Center.
The Bonnies led for the last 28 minutes but just managed to fight off Cleveland State for a 71-69 nonconference win before a crowd of 5,471.
Coach Rollie Massimino's Vikings trimmed a 16-point second-half deficit to one twice in the final minute but never got the equalizer as Bona improved its record to 7-2.
It was a ragged affair in which 50 fouls were called (28 against the Vikings) and the teams combined to attempt 71 free throws. Bona made 27 of 43 to 16 of 28 for Cleveland State.
"I guess you could have called 100 fouls. It was a very hard game to officiate, but the officiating was very good," said Massimino, who saw his team drop to 5-7.
"When you play against a team that's going to pressure you, a team like that forces you to play fast," said Baron, whose team committed 24 turnovers to 22 for Cleveland State.
Bona got 17 points each from two seniors, guard Tim Winn and center Caswell Cyrus. David Messiah Capers added 11. Sophomore guard J.R. Bremer came off the bench to contribute seven points in his first game of the season. He suffered a broken foot the first week of preseason practice.
"Our bench did a really good job of giving us energy," said Baron.
Bona went from an 18-all tie to a 30-25 halftime lead and built the advantage to 52-36 with 12:30 left. The margin was still 13, 62-49, with 7:54 to go before the Vikings began to close in. They got within three, 69-66, on a trey by Damon Stringer with 1:46 to play. David Barrett's layup with 45 seconds to go cut it to one.
Messiah Capers made two free throws with 22 seconds left to put Bona up by 71-68. After an offensive foul against Winn with 5 seconds to go, Barrett made the first of two foul shots to close the scoring.
Senior guard James Madison, who did not start, led the Vikings with 21 points. Stringer had 14.
Next for Bona is a Sunday home game against Niagara at 7 p.m.