St. Bonaventure got off to a horrendous shooting start and lost its regular season finale to host Saint Louis, 72-49, on Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena.
The Billikens went on a 13-point first-half run for a 17-4 lead to take control. Coach Travis Ford’s team led 38-21 at the half behind 11 points by Tay Weaver.
With the loss, Bona (19-11, 11-7) dropped into a tie with Duquesne (21-9, 11-7) but gained the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament because of the tiebreaker advantage over the Dukes.
The Bonnies will play the winner of Wednesday’s George Mason vs. Saint Joseph’s first-round game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Saint Louis (23-8, 12-6 A-10) clinched the No. 4 seed with the victory.
Bona made only 5 of 29 shots in the first half. Overall, the Bonnies were 13 of 51 for 25.5 percent. They went scoreless for the first 3:09 and did not make a field goal for the opening four minutes. Bona went 1-for-12 from the floor before back-to-back threes from Bobby Planutis and Alejandro Vasquez, but another four-minute drought from the floor allowed the Billikens to grow their lead to 16.
Not known for their 3-point shooting, the Billikens had five triples just more than halfway into the opening period and had six at the half as part of a 38-21 lead.
Kyle Lofton started the second half with six quick points, including a four-point play, but the rally was short-lived. Bona continued to struggle on the offensive end, going five minutes without a field goal as the Saint Louis lead grew to 20. The Bonnies closed to 63-49 with five minutes remaining with a pressing defense, but got no closer.
Jaren English led the Bonnies with 15 points while Dominick Welch posted 11 points and eight rebounds. Welch hit three 3-pointers and had at least one trey in 28 of 31 games during the regular season.
Hasahn French, the Billikens rugged 6-foot-7 forward from Middletown, N.Y., had 16 points and 18 rebounds as Saint Louis had a 40-29 rebounding advantage.
If the Bonnies win their quarterfinal game, their next opponent would be Saint Louis at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
MAAC men’s pairings set
No. 10 Canisius will face No. 7 Iona in the first round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s tournament in Atlantic City at 7 p.m. Tuesday. As the No. 6 seed, Niagara will take on No. 11 Marist at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
Canisius would oppose No. 2 Saint Peter’s and Niagara would face No. 3 Rider in the next round if they should survive their first-round games.