OLEAN, N.Y. – Standing alone with the ball under the basket, St. Bonaventure forward LaDarien Griffin had only one thought come to mind.
“Don’t miss,” Griffin said of his dunk with 21.5 seconds remaining that provided the go-ahead points in the Bonnies 77-74 win over Rhode Island, and snapped the 16th-ranked Rams’ 16-game winning streak on Friday night.
Griffin, actually, didn’t miss much on either end of the court in a thrilling back-and-forth game in which neither team led by more than six points.
Aside from scoring eight of his 14 points in the final 5:24, the junior forward also got his hand up to alter Jared Terrell’s potential game-tying basket with 4.8 seconds left. Griffin, who added eight rebounds and three blocks, even kept playing after losing his shoe.
“He didn’t tie it tight enough,” coach Mark Schmidt said with a laugh, referring to Griffin losing his shoe while running up the court with about three minutes left and then throwing the shoe off to the sideline.
“I don’t know,” Griffin said. “I just ran down the floor and threw it out of bounds.”
Matt Mobley made up for Jaylen Adams’ offensive struggles by scoring 26 points. Adams hit just 2 of 12 attempts for 10 points.
The Bonnies (20-6, 10-4 Atlantic 10 Conference) won their eighth straight. St. Bonaventure also reached the 20-win plateau for a third consecutive season.
The Rams (21-4, 13-1) had the nation’s longest winning streak snapped in losing for the first time since a 68-64 decision at Alabama on Dec. 6. The loss also snapped Rhode Island’s 21-game winning streak in conference play, dating to 53-43 loss against Fordham on Feb. 15, 2017.
Terrell led the Rams with 23 points. E.C. Matthews scored all of his 14 points in the second half, playing three days after hurting his left knee in an 85-67 win over Richmond.
“I think their grittiness kind of knocked us on our heels a little bit,” Rams coach Dan Hurley said.
The loud and raucous crowd that packed the Reilly Center certainly didn’t help.
With the game tied at 50, Hurley attempted to get his players’ attention by rapping the legs of his folding chair on the court during a timeout. He’s not sure they heard him.
“I want to get these guys juiced up, because the place was obviously electric. I was trying to just create some energy,” Hurley said. “It was a meager attempt, but I had to try something.”
Unlike their 87-63 loss at Rhode Island a month ago, the Bonnies refused to wilt and instead matched the Rams’ high-tempo attack shot for shot.
The turning point came with 6 minutes left, with Rhode Island up 67-61. St. Bonaventure’s Courtney Stockard intercepted Stanford Robinson’s pass at mid-court and scored on an open layup.
Griffin took over by scoring six points on three consecutive possessions.
Rhode Island’s Cyril Langevine hit two free throws after he was fouled while attempting a dunk to put the Rams up 74-73 with 38 seconds remaining,
Then came Griffin’s go-ahead dunk in which he was set up by a pass from Adams from the top of the key.
“Coach drew up a great play,” Griffin said in how the Bonnies adapted to the Rams double-teaming Adams. “He made a great pass. I just made sure to finish it.”