Bonnies bottle up Rossiter, Saints

It’s supposed to be the season of giving, but St. Bonaventure took Ryan Rossiter away from Siena on
PHOTOGRAPHER:

It’s supposed to be the season of giving, but St. Bonaventure took Ryan Rossiter away from Siena on Tuesday night.

Repeatedly throwing an extra defender at him as soon as he touched the ball, the Bonnies (7-4) held off the Saints (4-7), 82-79, in front of 3,679 at the Reilly Center.

The matchup of top centers never materialized.

Rossiter, averaging 20.2 points per game, managed just five shots in 39 minutes, while his St. Bon­aventure counterpart, Andrew Nicholson, scored 26 points, including eight from the free-throw line in the closing minutes to keep injury-depleted Siena at bay.

Siena’s guards thrived on offense, but Rossiter scored just four points.

“Anytime I caught the ball, I had a double-team, whether it was on the perimeter, on the free-throw line, on the box,” Rossiter said. “I’ve seen it a little bit. But this game, every time I caught the ball, there was a double, with [a] help-side [defender], so they really made it a point of emphasis to not let me get anything.”

“They were coming, and they were coming right away. They weren’t giving him any breathing room,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said.

“If he goes off and gets his 21, we lose,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “Pick your poison. Our thing was we wanted to do as good a job as we could on Rossiter and stop him, because we thought that when he doesn’t put up numbers, they lose.”

“When he caught the ball, we wanted to get feet around him, make life more difficult, force him to dribble the ball out and pass it,” Nicholson said.

Siena had a nine-point lead midway through the second half, but the Bonnies responded, taking a 62-61 lead with 6:22 left on a three-pointer by Michael Davenport, who finished with 20 points.

He made another to give St. Bon­aventure a 70-63 lead with 2:36 left.

Missing second-leading scorer Clarence Jackson for the second straight game because of an ankle injury, then losing starting point guard Rakeem Brookins (leg cramps) and backup guard Kyle Griffin (shoulder), Siena managed to hang around, cutting it to 75-71 with 43 seconds left on two free throws by sophomore Jonathan Breeden and a reverse by junior Kyle Downey, who had a career-high 21 points.

Nicholson made two free throws, then Rossiter missed a putback, and Demitrius Conger hit two more free throws to give the Bonnies a 79-71 with 31.7 seconds left.

Breeden scored eight of his career-high 15 points in the final 24.4 seconds, but St. Bonaventure was solid from the line. The Bonnies made 12 of 15 in the final 1:38, including 8-for-11 by Nicholson.

“It’s a luxury to have Andrew on our team,” Schmidt said. “He makes everybody that much better and makes me, as a coach, look better.”

“He’s tough,” Rossiter said. “They go to him a lot, and he took advantage of it. He’s got a good jump shot, some post moves, and he hits his free throws.”

The Saints, who were scheduled to bus straight to Philadelphia for an afternoon game against Saint Joseph’s on New Year’s Eve, lost Brookins with 11:16 to play when his calves cramped up.

He came back in with 8:01 left and Siena still holding on to a 59-57 lead, but he lasted less than 21⁄2 minutes before coming out for good with 5:42 left.

Siena lost Griffin with 6:08 left in the first half when he hurt his shoulder, and he said after the game he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play against Saint Joe’s.

Downey, meanwhile, was 9-for-18 in place of Jackson, who is also doubtful for the Saint Joe’s game.

Downey scored 12 points in the second half, making two threes and a layup on a long pass from Breeden in transition during Siena’s torrid stretch that led to a 55-46 lead with 10:26 left.

“They were really focused on Ryan,” Downey said. “They took him away, I came off screens, and it was usually open.”

“You’ve got to love him [Downey],” Buonaguro said. “He plays with tremendous desire and intensity. I thought he wanted to take the big shots.

“They were doubling Ryan, but it opened our other guys up, and they responded. Brookins, Wignot, Downey, all had big nights, and Breeden, even.”

When Siena went up by nine, Schmidt called a timeout, and the Bonnies responded.

Davenport made three threes, point guard Ogo Adegboye made one, and Nicholson had five points during a 21-6 run that gave the Bonnies a 70-63 lead.

St. Bonaventure burned Siena’s zone by making nine of 21 three attempts (42.9 percent), while Siena was even better, making 11 of 23 (47.8).

“They hit a couple in our face, too,” Downey said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. We contested them, and they hit them.”

SIENA (79)

Anosike 3-10 0-0 6, Rossiter 2-5 0-0 4, Wignot 6-11 2-2 15, Downey 9-18 0-0 21, Brookins 7-12 0-0 18, Walters 0-1 0-0 0, Burdine 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Martens 0-3 0-0 0, Breeden 4-8 4-4 15. Totals: 31-69 6-6 79.

ST. BONAVENTURE (82)

Conger 2-7 3-4 8, Cook 2-5 2-2 6, Nicholson 8-17 10-13 26, Adegboye 5-11 4-4 18, Davenport 8-13 0-0 20, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Simmons 2-2 0-0 4, Roseboro 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-56 19-23 82.

Halftime: St. Bonaventure 32, Siena 28. Three-point goals: Siena 11-23 (Wignot 1-4, Downey 3-7, Brookins 4-6, Burdine 0-1, Martens 0-1, Breeden 3-4); St. Bonaventure 9-21 (Conger 1-4, Adegboye 4-10, Davenport 4-7). Rebounds: Siena 30 (Rossiter 10); St. Bonaventure 38 (Conger, Davenport 8). Assists: Siena 16 (Brookins 7); St. Bonaventure 14 (Davenport 7). Total fouls: Siena 18; St. Bonaventure 8. Attendance: 3,679.

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