Bona-Siena Cup

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team celebrates its Fransican Cup win over Siena in November 2018 in the Reilly Center. It was the Bonnies’ last win in the series before the Saints retained the Cup in Albany in 2019.

ST. BONAVENTURE — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team hasn’t been averse to opening its season against a rival.

The Bonnies have done so on two occasions under coach Mark Schmidt, tipping off the 2010-11 campaign on the road at Canisius and opening the 2017-18 NCAA Tournament season at home against Niagara (with both, interestingly enough, ending in losses).

And they’ll do it again this winter.

Bona will open the 2021-22 season — one of the most anticipated in program history — on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at home against Siena, the program announced Tuesday. And now, the countdown to that campaign has officially begun, with the Bonnies set to return to action in 139 days.

On Day 1, the Bonnies and Saints will continue their now-annual Franciscan Cup series, named for Brother Ed Coughlin, which was staged in 10-straight years (from 2010-19) before being paused last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schmidt’s team owns a 6-4 advantage in the matchup, winning three-straight (from 2016-18), including an 82-40 drubbing in the Reilly Center in 2018, before the Saints retained the cup with a November 2019 triumph in Albany.

In addition to the game’s 11th iteration, the two Franciscan schools also entered into another home-and-home agreement, guaranteeing the continuation of the series through 2022-23, when Bona will make a return trip to the Times Union Center. This was one of two additions to the Bonnies’ non-league schedule to materialize on Tuesday, as CBS insider Jon Rothstein reported that Bona will also host Coppin State, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, in a “buy” game.

Bona and Siena have met on 42 occasions in the long-standing rivalry, matching up 32 times between 1940 and 2001 before establishing the Franciscan Cup and an annual contest in 2010. The Bonnies own a commanding 31-11 all-time advantage in the series. And despite the last two meetings — a 42-point win for Bona and a 78-65 victory for Siena — the games have largely been close, with six of 10 decided by single digits.

A year after going 20-10 and winning the regular season MAAC title, the Saints finished 12-5 in the shortened 2020-21 campaign, dropping a heartbreaker (55-52) to eventual champion Iona in the MAAC Tournament semifinals.

With another two contests on the docket, 11 of a possible 13 non-league Bona games have come to light.

Schmidt’s team will play three games in the 2021 Charleston Classic and take on Virginia Tech in the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout in Charlotte. It will also host Siena, Northern Iowa and Coppin State and is expected to get a return trip from Middle Tennessee (from 2019-20) while meeting Buffalo and Canisius in the Reilly Center and traveling to Niagara.

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