NEW YORK -- Youssou Ndoye had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. Bonaventure over La Salle 82-72 on Thursday in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The 7-foot Ndoye was called for a costly technical foul and spent nearly 10 minutes on the bench in the second half as the ninth-seeded Bonnies held off the Explorers' rally. But with St. Bonaventure clinging to a five-point lead with just over a minute left, the Bonnies ran down the shot clock and Ndoye hit a hook shot to all but clinch the victory."In the past, we lost a lot of close games because we weren't able to finish," said coach Mark Schmidt, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak. "We weren't able to make a big play to stop the momentum."Today we did."St. Bonaventure (17-14) faces top-seeded Saint Louis in the quarterfinals Friday.Jerrell Wright scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting for eighth-seeded La Salle (15-16).The Bonnies were leading 53-46 with less than 13 1/2 minutes left when Ndoye was called for a foul. He argued and drew a technical, which gave him four fouls.Tyreek Duren missed both shots on the technical, but Wright hit the two free throws on the original foul. Duren made up for it with two straight layups to pull the Explorers within 53-52.But Tyrone Garland missed a drive that would have put La Salle ahead. Garland was scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting."I think that could have gotten us over the hump on the scoreboard and emotionally," coach John Giannini said.Marquise Simmons scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting for St. Bonaventure, and Charlon Kloof had 14 points and six assists.Kloof's steal and fast-break dunk put St. Bonaventure up 76-69 with just under two minutes left.The Explorers returned four starters from last year's Sweet Sixteen team, but they could never quite replace the offense lost from leading scorer Ramon Galloway. Garland, who hit the winning shot to send La Salle to the Sweet Sixteen, struggled to adjust in the transition from sixth man to starter.St. Bonaventure didn't even make the A-10 tournament last season when it debuted at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Schmidt joked that he wanted a few minutes to savor this victory before confronting the daunting task of facing the 18th-ranked Billikens.The Bonnies earned that chance because Ndoye dominated inside when he was in the game, and the rest of the team stayed calm when he wasn't."He made a mistake, but good teammates pick him up," Schmidt said. "That's what our guys did."