Charlon Kloof finished with 22 points and nine boards, but it was his sixth assist of the afternoon that was the biggest play of the season for St. Bonaventure.
On the final possession of a tie game, Kloof drew a double team and found teammate Jordan Gathers open at the top of the key. Gathers buried a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Bonnies picked up a win over No. 1 seed and Atlantic 10 regular season champion Saint Louis, 71-68.
It’s a great win for St. Bonaventure, who was spurred on a second half comeback by some hot-shooting from Matthew Wright, but the bigger story coming from this is the Billikens.
What in the world is going on with them?
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Saint Louis lost three in a row at the end of the regular season before seemingly bouncing back with a win at UMass in their last game before heading up to Brooklyn for the conference tournament, but they collapsed in the second half against the Bonnies. Saint Louis was up by as much as 13 in the first half before taking a 38-28 lead into the break, but the defense that carried the Billikens throughout the season was no where to be found in the final 20 minutes.
St. Bonaventure scored 43 points after the break. They were 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, including a pair of huge triples in the final minute, which is a number that is all-the-more impressive when you consider the fact that Saint Louis led the nation in defensive three-point percentage this season at 28.9%.
The Billikens are not a good offensive team. According to KenPom, they’re 176th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have to be elite defensively if they are going to win games, and, quite frankly, they haven’t been in the last three weeks. In five of their last seven games, Saint Louis has allowed more than a point-per-possession defensively, which is unacceptable for a team that is fifth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. You want proof? Saint Louis lost four of those five games, and in the fifth they were taken to overtime by A-10 bottom-feeder George Mason.
Those are a lot of numbers I’m throwing at you, I know.
To put it in layman’s terms, Saint Louis won a lot of games this season because they are as good as anyone on the defensive end of the floor. They have not played to that level on that end of late, and that’s why they are losing games.
As of this morning, Saint Louis was a No. 6 seed in Dave Ommen’s latest bracket. They’ll probably drop a seed line after this loss. I still think that, when they’re playing their best, the Billikens can win a couple games in the tournament and make the Sweet 16.
But they haven’t been playing their best in weeks.
It’s time to be concerned if you’re a Saint Louis fan.