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St. Bonaventure (16-14) vs. La Salle (15-15)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 12 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: NBCSN-Regional. Home Record: SBU 10-4, LSU 9-5. Away Record: SBU 4-9, LSU 4-8. Neutral Record: SBU 2-1, LSU 2-2. Conference Record: SBU 6-10, LSU 7-9. Series Record: La Salle leads, 15-12.

GAME NOTES: The eighth-seeded La Salle Explorers take on the ninth-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the second round of the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.

The winner will battle the top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in Friday's quarterfinals.

St. Bonaventure limps into the postseason, having lost its last four games. The most recent defeat was an 86-67 decision at Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday. The Bonnies were one of four teams that did not qualify for last year's A-10 Tournament, but in 2012 they managed to capture the tournament crown.

The Explorers enter this contest on more of a positive note, capturing wins in three of their last four. On Sunday, they took to the road and downed Big 5 rival Saint Joseph's, 71-63.

La Salle has won four of the last five meetings with SBU. The teams split the season series this year, with each winning at home. In their only other meeting in the A-10 Tournament, the two teams squared off in 2011 in a first- round tilt at St. Bonaventure, with La Salle leaving with a 75-73, double- overtime victory.

Matthew Wright put up 21 points, but was the only Bonnie to reach double figures, as SBU fell to VCU in the final game of the regular season. Charlon Kloof added nine points and seven assists, but committed six turnovers for the Bonnies. VCU scored the first nine points of the contest and SBU was never able to recover against a formidable opponent that had not lost at home all season. The Rams held a 44-28 lead at the break, and the Bonnies opened the second half with seven unanswered points to get back into the game and trailed by just six midway through the half before VCU used a 13-5 run to push its lead back to double digits. The Bonnies were done in partly by their own mistakes, as they turned the ball over a whopping 24 times, which VCU converted to 31 points.

One of the top offensive players in the conference, Matthew Wright leads the Bonnies with 16.7 ppg, and he has been on a tear of late, scoring at least 20 points in five of his last six outings. Kloof chips in 11.5 ppg and is dishing out a generous 5.0 apg, second-best in the A-10.?Five other Bonnies are scoring at least 8 ppg, including Youssou Ndoye (9.9 ppg, 2.2 bpg), Dion Wright (9.0 ppg), Andell Cumberbatch (8.7 ppg), Jordan Gathers (8.3 ppg) and Marquise Simmons (8.0 ppg). With such a balanced scoring attack, it's no wonder that the Bonnies are the third-ranked offensive unit in the A-10, scoring 74.0 ppg, while giving up 70.2 ppg.

The Explorers were led by senior Tyreek Duren's 27 points in the recent win over cross-town rival Saint Joseph's. Duren went 16-of-17 at the free-throw line. Jerrell Wright added 17 points and 12 rebounds in the win. The Explorers held SJU without a field goal over the final eight minutes of the first half, as La Salle went on a 17-3 run to take a 33-23 advantage at intermission. Eight straight points by the Hawks midway through the second would cut their deficit to five, but they would get no closer as La Salle held on down the stretch for the win. For the game, the Explorers committed a mere five turnovers while forcing 14, which included a season-high 11 steals.

Duren has been the top Explorer all season, leading the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), assists (3.5 apg) and steals (1.7), while serving as its ironman in logging 36 minutes per game. Tyrone Garland scores 13.0 ppg and Wright adds 12.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg. The main man on the glass is Steve Zack, the top rebounder in the league, pulling down 9.5 rpg. As a team, the Explorers score just 67.6 ppg, second-worst in the A-10, and still give it all back, as they allow opponents to put up 67.9 ppg. The Explorers are hampered by their poor shooting, as they connect on just 40.9 percent of their field goal tries, second only to Fordham for the bottom spot in the conference.

The Bonnies can certainly score but their defense has been suspect, particularly during their four-game slide when they've given up over 82 points per game. While the Explorers have had their offensive struggles, they have some momentum and hope to capture some of last year?s postseason magic.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 75, St. Bonaventure 70

03/13 10:49:55 ET

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