Bonnies rout Rhode Island to reach A-10 championship game
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By DENIS P. GORMAN
NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Lofton scored 23 points to lead St. Bonaventure to a 68-51 rout of Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals Saturday.
Fourth-seeded St. Bonaventure reached the championship game for the first time since 2012, when the Bonnies beat Xavier 67-56.
St. Bonaventure faces sixth-seeded Saint Louis, which walloped No. 2 seed Davidson by 23 points in Saturday's other semifinal.
Dominick Welch and LaDarien Griffin each added 13 for the Bonnies (18-15). Osun Osunniyi added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Cyril Langevine led the Rams (19-15) with 15 points, and Jeff Downtin finished with 12.
Rhode Island led by two at halftime, 29-27, after opening the game with a 20-10 run spanning the first 10 minutes. With 4:08 left in the half, the Rams' lead grew to as much as 15 at 29-14 and they never trailed in the opening 20 minutes.
St. Bonaventure used a 13-0 run over the last 3:56 to cut the deficit to two at halftime.
"It was a microcosm of our whole year. We were down. We were struggling. But the kids, they believed," St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. "The last five minutes of the first half were crucial."
Griffin's dunk and free throw gave St. Bonaventure a 48-42 lead, and Lofton's floater as the shot clock expired moments later made it 50-44. St. Bonaventure put the game away with a 16-1 run spanning 4:26 late in the second half.
"I told my teammates we just got to worry about defense," Lofton said. "I knew at some point the shots would fall."
The Rams missed nine straight shots, and 11 of 12, spanning a stretch of 7:43.
"They were tired today and to be honest, so was I," Rhode Island coach David Cox said. "I didn't have the juice. There was a part of me that was frustrated that I couldn't provide the juice they needed."
Updated March 16, 2019