Unsettled and vulnerable in the first half of its matchup against Virginia Tech, St. Bonaventure looked like a different team after halftime -- a team, as we already know, that loves extending games a little while longer.
The Bonnies erased what was once an 18-point deficit to send the game into overtime but lost their poise down the stretch of the extra session and fell to the Hokies, 76-68, in front of 5,285 at the BlueCross Arena on Thursday.
St. Bonaventure senior point guard Ogo Adegboye sent the game into overtime with a deep three-pointer with 15.4 seconds left, and Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney missed a 13-foot shot at the buzzer. But in overtime the Bonnies scored just three points on 1 of 5 shooting.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech hit 4 of 6 of its field goals, including five points by guard Manny Atkins, who played just four minutes in regulation. The overtime loss to the Hokies comes just days after the Bonnies defeated Ohio University, 112-107, in four overtimes at the Reilly Center.
St. Bonaventure (6-4) was seeking to equal its 10-game start of a year ago at 7-3 but was tripped up by a team that played nearly flawlessly in overtime.
"We dug a hole in the first half, we didn't play well," St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. "I'm not sure if we were intimidated [or] non-aggressive in the first half but give our guys credit in the second half, we turned it around."
Delaney scored a team-high 19 points and had five assists for Virginia Tech (7-4), and the Hokies' vaunted 1-3-1 defense held the Bonnies to 39.3 percent shooting in the first half as they built a 41-28 halftime lead.
Then Bona clawed back after halftime. Tentative in the first half, the Bonnies limited turnovers and harassed the Hokies into 40.9 percent shooting in the second half.
"We've been in situations like that before, down at St. John's and we started off against Ohio down," said Michael Davenport, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half. "It was a matter of settling down and getting used to the game and finding ways to execute."
St. Bonaventure was led by junior forward Andrew Nicholson with a game-high 21 points, but he was limited for the entire game with leg cramps, Schmidt said. He went down for the second time in the game with 38 seconds left while trying to draw a charging foul on Victor Davila. After laying on the floor for several minutes, Nicholson was helped off the floor by his teammates and didn't return to the game.
Nicholson's last field goal came with 13:24 left; it cut Virginia Tech's lead to 49-47. The Bonnies trailed, 62-58, with 3:03 left in the game when Nicholson went to the sidelines with what appeared to be a cramp in his right leg. A trainer worked feverishly on Nicholson's legs as some Bona fans chanted his name. When he checked back in with 1:27 left and the Bonnies trailing 64-62, the BlueCross Arena erupted.
Right on cue, Virginia Tech's Erick Green tried to barrel his way into the lane and Nicholson blocked his shot, without jumping, and 44 sec onds remained in the game. The Bonnies fed the ball to Nicholson but his pass to Da'Quan Cook was too high and Virginia Tech pounced on the loose ball.
Delaney was fouled immediately and made 1 of 2 free throws with 25.1 seconds left. Shortly afterward, Schmidt ran a play for Adegboye and he calmly sent the game into overtime with a three.
"As soon as I caught it, I got a little bit of space and I just shot it," Adegboye said.
Adegboye, who finished with 17 points, four assists and four steals, said the Bonnies displayed their true potential in the second half.
"When we play together, when we -bplay hard and when we work, we can really compete," he said. "The second half was a testament to that."
Davenport agreed with his point guard's assessment.
"We played an ACC school, it doesn't matter what conference you're in, it just matters if you have fun competing," he said. "We've been against schools like this before, playing against the odds and we have good enough players as they do."