DAYTON, Ohio — St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt dedicated the school’s first NCAA tournament win since 1970 to the 1969-70 team, which had a potential national title run cut short by an injury to star Bob Lanier.
After the game, Schmidt repeatedly referenced the 1969-70 St. Bonaventure team, which reached the Final Four behind Lanier, an All-American and future Basketball Hall of Fame selection who averaged 26.2 points and 15.6 rebounds that season. But Lanier suffered a knee injury against Villanova in the regional final, and the Bonnies fell to Jacksonville in the national semifinals. UCLA defeated Jacksonville to win the national championship.
“When I got the job here 11 years ago, we hear the stories about 1970 and how disappointing it was that Lanier got hurt and they didn’t have a chance to have a full team going to play Jacksonville,” Schmidt said. “And everybody talks about if Lanier was healthy, they would have taken on UCLA. This victory is for those guys. They didn’t get an opportunity to show their talent.”
Schmidt said he thought about the 1970 team as soon as St. Bonaventure was paired with UCLA in the First Four.
“That was the greatest [St. Bonaventure] team that’s ever played,” Schmidt said. “I talked to the team about it. Because I think that’s really important — legacies and tradition. For our guys to be able to go out and play a great UCLA team and beat them, to me, hopefully that helps the disappointment back in 1970.”
St. Bonaventure, which won a team-record 26th game Tuesday before a pro-Bonnies crowd at the University of Dayton Arena, was making just its fourth NCAA tournament appearance since 1970 and its second under Schmidt. Junior forward Courtney Stockard led the Bonnies with 26 points, while senior guard Jaylen Adams overcame a poor shooting night to score eight points in the closing minutes.
“Coach told us before the game, ‘It was Lanier in ’70, and it’s Adams, [Matt] Mobley and [Idris] Taqqee in 2018,'” Adams said. “I’m glad we could get this win over a powerhouse like UCLA. … I’m just so excited to be a part of this Bonaventure tradition.
“We’re going down in history.”