December 08, 2010
Some of college basketball's most renowned players have gone years without sinking a game-winning bucket in the final seconds.
Having squandered a 19-point second half lead against Buffalo on Saturday night, St. Bonaventure needed a tie-breaking 17-footer from Nicholson with 6.7 seconds remaining to avoid overtime and escape with a 76-74 victory. Then in Tuesday night's 67-66 upset win at St. John's, Nicholson hit a go-ahead step-back jumper with 5.3 seconds to go from just inside the top of the key, nearly exactly the same spot he'd struck from in the previous game.
It's difficult to get much emotion out of the notoriously reserved Nicholson, but the junior forward let loose a loud scream after hitting the jumper to beat St. John's. Nicholson reverted back to his usual softspoken demeanor by the following afternoon.
The clutch shooting of Nicholson is a big reason why St. Bonaventure is optimistic that it can improve upon last season's middling 7-9 finish in the Atlantic 10. The 6-foot-9 forward from Mississauga, Ontario is averaging career highs of 18.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, helping the Bonnies to a solid 5-2 start.
Nicholson credits his continued development to the strict offseason dietary regiment he endured. Not only did he cut out the greasy snacks and candy that had been part of his diet, he also went to a month-long camp where he wasn't allowed to have any sugars.
What food did Nicholson miss the most?
"Ketchup," he said. "I ate it at every meal. I'm a true Canadian. That's how we do it."
Nicholson said he's hit game-winning shots before during high school, but these two were his first in three seasons at St. Bonaventure.
"High school was fun, but here it was more exhilirating," Nicholson said. "It was a better environment. It meant more."