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St. Bonaventure Take Down Clemson 68-65 In Charleston Classic

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Down 16 Points the Bonnies Rally To Remain Unbeaten, Face Marquette In Championship Game

By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

While the ultimate goal for the eight teams that play annually in the ESPN Charleston Classic is to make it to the championship game on Sunday, perhaps the most marquee matchup during the 2021 classic was the Friday afternoon game between Clemson and 23rd ranked St. Bonaventure. In college men’s basketball this was akin to a battle between the north and the south, or orange versus brown.

What an ideal pairing of two schools from small towns built around college sports. Clemson a powerhouse school out of the ACC, known more for their football team of late, and St. Bonaventure from Allegany NY who have created quite a buzz early in the 2021-22 season. Hailing from the upstate of South Carolina the Tigers have many fans in the low country. And although St. Bonaventure are much further away, they have an equally avid fan base, and one not afraid to follow the Bonnies.

An Atlantic 10 conference foe taking on an ACC opponent, a bit of a David vs. Goliath story, and we all know how that turned out. 40 minutes of basketball aside the Bonnies rallied late in the second half to escape with a 68-65 win over Clemson, sending St. Bonaventure to the championship game 7:30pm Sunday night where they will try to remain undefeated when they take on Marquette, an 82-71 winner over West Virginia in late action on Friday evening.

In the first half between Clemson and St. Bonaventure matchup was a game of spurts and droughts. The Bonnies tripped the scoreboard early before the Tigers ran off 11 straight, up 11-2 inside three minutes of play. Both teams went cold for the next three minutes. A fast break dunk by David Collins put Clemson up 18-6 with 11:26 remaining.

St. Bonaventure found some game, cutting the margin to five before another Clemson spurt put them up by 16 points at the 2:34 mark. The Bonnies would explode for a 10-4 run, trailing 38-28 at the break.

It looked like much of the same for the Bonnies as Clemson held a 14 point lead (51-37) after more than six minutes of play in the second half. But St. Bonaventure did not back down, perhaps worthy of their Top 25 ranking, they slowly chipped away at the lead, finally regaining it when Kyle Lofton drained a 3-pointer that capped off a 16-2 run by the Bonnies.

The lead would go back and forth in the final five minutes of play, with the score knotted at 63 all when the Tiger’s Nick Honor hit a short jumper in the paint, leaving 1:59 on the clock. But better shots and a couple of free throws by Lofton with 19 seconds remaining sealed Clemson’s fate. Honor would take an off balance 3-pointer from the corner that was partially blocked by Jaren Holmes as the timed expired.

Clemson was lead by PJ Hall who shot 8 of 15 from the field including 3 of 5 from long range for 22 points. He hauled in a team best eight rebounds. David Collins went 6 of 9 from the floor finishing with 14 points, with adding 5 of 8, with two from long range for 12 points. Clemson fall to 4-1 on the season and will take on West Virginia Sunday at 5pm.

St. Bonaventure had three players in double figures, with Lofton leading the way with 22 points, connecting on 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Jaren Holmes went 5 of 8 from long range for 19 points, with Jalen Adaway chipping in 14 points for the winning team. The Bonnies went lights out from 3-point land in the second half making 10 of 12 from down town. St. Bonaventure remain unbeaten, improving to 4-0 as the look to take on the Golden Eagles of Marquette, with the winner claiming the 2021 Charleston Classic title.

 

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