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Bonnies deal Hawks’ NCAA hopes a fatal blow?

Andrew Nicholson,  C.J. Aiken

St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson takes a shot past Saint Joseph’s C.J. Aiken (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals at the Atlantic 10 men’s tournament in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, March 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)


Of all the accolades that St. Bonaventure center Andrew Nicholson has racked up during his career in Olean, New York, there’s one achievement that’s eluded him: an NCAA tournament appearance. But thanks in large part to the 6'9" big man the Bonnies live to play another day, as they beat Saint Joseph’s 71-68 in the second A-10 quarterfinal.

Nicholson finished with 25 points, ten rebounds and four blocked shots as he outplayed St. Joe’s C.J. Aiken, who finished with five points and four rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Carl Jones led the Hawks with 24 points while Langston Galloway and Daryus Quarles scored 12 apiece, but their slim hopes of getting to the Big Dance are now gone.

One of those four blocked shots came at the expense of Jones, who drove baseline in the final seconds only to have the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year show up. Matthew Wright’s free throw pushed the lead out to three, advancing the Bonnies on to a semifinal match-up with UMass.

With an RPI of 56 and a strength of schedule of 37, Saint Joseph’s went into this weekend with a shot at an at-large bid provided they pick up wins in Atlantic City. That didn’t happen, and now Phil Martelli’s team is left to hope that their two RPI Top 50 wins (Temple and Creighton) are good enough to keep them on the board.

You can follow Raphielle Johnson at @raphiellej.