NEW YORK — Jordan Gathers hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and St. Bonaventure stunned No. 18 Saint Louis 71-68 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Friday.
The ninth-seeded Bonnies (18-14) came into the tourney on a four-game losing streak before beating La Salle on Thursday. They trailed the top-seeded Billikens by 10 points at halftime but rallied behind a swarming defense and clutch 3-point shooting.
Saint Louis big man Dwayne Evans, who had hit three 3-pointers all season, made a 3 over 7-foot Youssou Ndoye with 20.9 seconds left to tie the game at 68-68.
Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof led St. Bonaventure with 22 points. Gathers had just two points before making the winner.
Mike McCall Jr. scored 21 points for Saint Louis (26-6), which lost its first game in its attempt to defend its A-10 tournament title. The Billikens have dropped four of five.
Saint Louis led by as many as 13 in the first half, but the bigger Bonnies were racking up foul trouble for the Billikens. Trapping on the perimeter and denying the ball to Evans, Saint Louis’ leading scorer, St. Bonaventure clawed back after the break.
Wright, the Bonnies’ leading scorer at more than 16 points per game, was held to eight on 2-of-8 shooting Thursday. But he rediscovered his range with five 3-pointers against Saint Louis. His long 3 with just over 9 minutes left gave St. Bonaventure its first lead.
Saint Louis called timeout, but it didn’t help. The Billikens immediately turned it over, and Wright hit another 3-pointer to put the Bonnies up 57-52.
But Saint Louis’ seniors were hard to shake. With the Billikens trailing 61-56 and less than 6 minutes left, 6-1 Jordair Jett, the A-10 Player of the Year, swooped in for an offensive rebound and drew the fourth foul on Ndoye. Jett missed the second free throw, but Rob Loe tipped the ball out, and Jett scored on a drive to pull the Billikens within 61-59.
Kloof missed inside and the Bonnies couldn’t convert on several chances for a tip. McCall raced down the floor and drew a foul, and his two free throws tied the game with 4:33 left.
Saint Louis took its first lead in nearly 8 minutes when Loe found Evans for a layup to put the Billikens up 65-63 with 91 seconds remaining.
Kloof scored inside to tie the game. Jett drove the lane and had the ball knocked away, going down hard and staying on the court as the Billikens’ bench howled for a foul call.
The Bonnies had a five-on-four, and Wright hit a 3-pointer for a 68-65 lead with 38.2 seconds left.