Courtney Stockard has finally arrived.
Two seasons ago, he broke his right foot and missed the entire year. Last season, he re-injured the same foot during the pre-season and missed another full season.
This year, the Bonnies finally got Stockard back at full speed, and he was a very solid addition to the team. Heading into the final week of the regular season, he was averaging 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, both in the top three on the team.
Then he put of 21 and 14 against VCU. Then came 31 and 7 in triple overtime against Davidson., and 22 and 10 against Saint Louis in the conference tournament. Then he dropped 19 more points against Richmond… and injured his hamstring badly enough that he sat out the entire A10 semifinal against Davidson.
It wasn’t the foot, but it was certainly “not again.”
It was uncertain whether Stockard would play tonight, but he most definitely was all over the place tonight. Stockard finished the night with 26 points, four rebounds and four steals for a St. Bonaventure team that forced 19 turnovers by the UCLA Bruins.
How good was Stockard tonight? So good that the Bruins shot 10-for-29 from the field from three-point range, held the Bonnies’ best scorer Jalen Adams to eight points and 2-for-16 shooting, and still won by seven points.
Aaron Holiday and his Bruins started the game on fire, with Holiday scored the first eight points, and it felt like the Bonnies had no answer for him. St. Bonaventure eventually shook off the dust and got things going, and quickly turned an early 14-5 deficit into a 17-17 game, and then a 28-23 halftime lead.
Holiday eventually would end the game with 20 points, but it took him 4-for-14 shooting to get there, and it was difficult for anyone else to get a rhythm with Holiday taking 35% of UCLA’s shots and making less than half of them. The Bruins struggled early with Stockard and teammate Matt Mobley’s aggressiveness, and UCLA eventually tried to compensate by switching to a 2-3 zone and/or extending that zone, which worked off and on.
Unfortunately, all those turnovers – and the Bonnies ability to turn them into points – kept the Bruins from ever truly finding a rhythm on offense unless it was eliminating a deficit.
St. Bonaventure will now travel to Dallas to face #6 seed Florida, and after what we saw tonight, watch out Gators.