"We didn't win the way we wanted to, we didn't play the way we wanted to, but I really like [the players] as people and am proud of the team as people and proud of their effort today," La Salle coach John Giannini said.
St. Bonaventure ended a four-game losing streak by making 30 of 56 shots from the field, and 18 of 20 from the foul line. The Bonnies committed just six turnovers.
The winners pounded the ball inside. The frontcourt duo of 6-foot-8 Marquise Simmons and 7-foot Youssou Ndoye combined for 34 points and 17 rebounds.
This was a game that La Salle never led, although the Explorers got within 53-52 on Tyreek Duren's driving layup with 12 minutes, 26 seconds remaining.
"We were pretty much fighting back the whole game and used a lot of energy in trying to do it," said Duren, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
With the score still 53-52, La Salle's Tyrone Garland missed a baseline drive and the Explorers believed that he had been fouled. Giannini thought that if La Salle had scored, it could have been a turning point.
"That could have gotten us over the hump on the scoreboard and just emotionally," the coach said.
La Salle center Steve Zack had 11 points and 11 rebounds, but Garland, one of the heroes in last season's run, was held scoreless, shooting 0 for 7 from the field.
"We tried to make him a jump shooter as much as we could," Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said. "He is a really talented kid and had some open looks, and he just missed, thank goodness."