Bona wins ugly in Osunniyi’s return

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Justin Myers

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — This was the game Bonnies fans had been waiting to see, as the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team was back at full strength with sophomores Osun Osunniyi and Jaren English back in the rotation.  

Both players returned to action to play significant roles in Tuesday night’s matchup vs. Mercer. The result of this gritty, hard fought performance was a 56-51 victory that improved the team’s record to 2-4 on the year.  

Osunniyi, who returned after four games due to a knee injury, made his presence felt. The big man tallied a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds.  

“You need someone back there (Osunniyi) that cleans up mistakes,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “Osun does a really good job not only just blocking shots, but taking charges as well.”  

English, who played in his first Division I game ever, did not lead the team in scoring, but brought the energy that the Bonnies needed off the bench.  

“He’s a winner,” Schmidt said when asked about the play of English. “Just in practice, his energy, his enthusiasm, his willingness to do what is takes to win, he’s really (our) glue guy.”

The most crucial point of the game that Bonnies fans should remember is the late-game rebound that sophomore guard Dom Welch hustled for that secured their second win of the year 

“When you’re struggling offensively, it affects your defense,” said Schmidt. “This is a good win where it shows the guys that if we don’t play well offensively, but we defend and rebound, we can win games.”   

The Bonnies will now travel to Boca Raton, Florida for the tournament portion of the Boca Beach Classic. St. Bonaventure plays San Diego in the opening round of the tournament on Sunday at 9 p.m.

Bonnies fall to Canisius in Buffalo

photo courtesy of Scott Eddy/gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

BUFFALO — Whatever the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team found offensively in Toronto last week, it didn’t bring back to New York.

The Bonnies (1-4) fell to Canisius (2-2) on Saturday, 61-57, in a sloppy game at KeyBank Center.

SBU shot 38 percent from the field, while Canisius shot 39 percent.

The Golden Griffins took the lead for good with three minutes remaining in the first half. Canisius stretched the lead to as many as 10 points before avoiding a late-game push from the Bonnies.

“Offensively, we were really bad,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We got to the foul line, but just really couldn’t get anything going offensively. We weren’t pushing the ball and we didn’t get any easy baskets.”

SBU sophomore guard Kyle Lofton led all scorers with 18 points. Freshman forward Justin Winston added 14 points and five rebounds.

With 34 seconds remaining and the Bonnies trailing by two points, Lofton was called for a pivotal offensive foul while driving to the basket.

Malik Johnson, who drew the foul, hit both ensuing free throws for Canisius, which sunk the momentum of Bona’s comeback.

“They were running a rub action play so I knew (Lofton) was going to try to get down hill,” Johnson said. “I knew if I beat him to the spot and took (the foul) to my chest, it was most likely going to be a charge. I kind of read that play and baited him into it.”

Johnson finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals for the Golden Griffins.

Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said that Johnson’s “intense desire to win” is what drives the senior point guard.

“(Johnson) has been great for us and building the program,” Witherspoon said. “He’s a ‘we’ guy, not a ‘me’ guy. He’s really about the team, whether he scores or doesn’t score. I think that’s what you ultimately hope to have from your point guard.”

Freshman forward Jacco Fritz had a double-double for Canisius, racking up 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Canisius out-played SBU at the rim, out-rebounding the Bonnies 40-23 total, and 16-8 on offensive rebounds.

Bona’s defense forced 21 turnovers and scored 22 points off of turnovers. However, Canisius led in second-chance points, 16-7, a statistic that Schmidt said was crucial.

“They took it to us physically,” Schmidt said. “To me, that was the difference. Every time we got a stop, it seemed like they got an offensive rebound and put it back.”

Schmidt said that when relying on new players to score points, growing pains should be expected.

“Sometimes (freshman) can do it, and sometimes they don’t,” Schmidt said. “It’s their first year and they’re still trying to learn. Hopefully they’re learning and they have more ups than downs.”

Canisius’ 61 points are the fewest that the team has scored in a win under Witherspoon.

“I’m really proud of our effort and that we stepped up to the challenge of doing a better job rebounding and making free throws,” Witherspoon said.

This was the 168th meeting between the two teams and, remarkably, it was only the ninth time that the game was decided by five or less points.

The Bonnies will return home to host Mercer on Tuesday. Then, they’ll fly to Florida next weekend for the Boca Beach Classic in Boca Raton.

“When you have a young team, you’re going to have some games like this,” Schmidt said. “We need to fight through it and get better.”

 

Sharpshooting freshmen lead Bona to first victory

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

TORONTO — It is often said that a team’s first win can be elusive.

But what the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team lacked over its first three games, it found in two instrumental freshmen on Saturday night.

The Bonnies (1-3), led by Alejandro Vasquez and Justin Winston, held on to defeat Rutgers (3-1), 80-74, at Scotiabank Arena.

Vasquez shot 8-of-12 from the field, and 3-of-5 from three-point range, to rack up 20 points.

After the Scarlet Knights worked to get back in the game, Vasquez hit a corner three with 2:30 remaining in the game to put the Bonnies up by eight points.

“That’s a big shot, right there,” Vasquez said. “I was just hoping it would go in.”

Vasquez also pulled down four rebounds and handed out two assists in 32 minutes on the court.

The guard oozed confidence on the court, as he has all season. Vasquez has showed Bona fans that whether he shoots the ball or drives to the basket, he wants to score the ball.

“The memo from the beginning was to come out with energy,” he said. “We wanted to keep that energy the same throughout the game.”

Winston showed his ability to shoot the ball, as he shot 4-of-5 from three-point range and 6-of-11 from the field. He scored 19 points in 34 minutes.

“(Vasquez and Winston) grew up and played with confidence,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “With freshmen, you never know when the light is going to come on. It went on tonight for both of those guys and they couldn’t have played better.”

Schmidt mentioned that with forward Osun Osunniyi out due to an injury, the Bonnies need to rely on their younger players to step up.

“Our young guys are put in a position where a couple of them need to have some success,” Schmidt said. “The game wasn’t too big for them, and that’s what we need.”

SBU shot 49 percent from the field, which was an improvement from the 35 percent that it had shot over its first three games.

The Bonnies also found some better luck from beyond the arc, shooting 45 percent from three. That is a vast improvement from the 23 percent that the team had shot from there before this game.

Kyle Loftton scored 17 points and Dom Welch added 11 points.

“You only gain confidence by playing well, and not just in practice,” Schmidt said. “Hopefully this game will push them forward because they played well against a really good team and should be proud of their efforts.”

Rutgers was hurt by poor shooting, was they shot 42 percent from the field and, more notably, 28 percent from three.

“Basketball is a humbling game and you get what you deserve,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We didn’t deserve to win tonight, and we didn’t.”

The Scarlet Knights had four players reach double digits in scoring, including Caleb McConnell leading the way with 13 points.

Myles Johnson scored 12 points, Geo Baker added with 11 points and Akwasi Yeboah chipped in with 10 points.

“I think we’re a much better basketball team than how we played today, but to Bonaventure’s credit, they did a good job of not allowing us to play like a good basketball team,” Pikiell said.

In an NBA arena 170 miles away from SBU, the atmosphere felt like a Bona home game at times.

“I’m proud to be the coach at Bonaventure,” Schmidt said. “The alumni, boosters and students come and really do a great job. We have 30,000 alums and it feels like they’re all here.”

The Bonnies will have to wait a week before playing again, as they’ll travel to Buffalo on Saturday to play little three rival Canisius at KeyBank Center.

 

Bonnies fall short to Vermont for second straight year

photo by Erin Lanahan/The Intrepid

By Matt Stasiw

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — With the amazing crowd presence in the Reilly Center on Friday night, every fan could already tell that a rematch between the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team and Vermont would be a battle until the end. 

The Bonnies have played Vermont each of the last three years in exciting non-conference duels.

This year, Vermont was too much for the Bonnies, as the Catamounts edged SBU, 61-59.

A year ago, then-junior Anthony Lamb, who averaged 21 points per game for the Catamounts, scored 41 against the Bonnies. 

On Friday night, Bona’s original game plan seemed to be any possible way to keep Lamb out of the picture. 

The Bonnies started of playing extremely hard with Amadi Ikpeze winning the tip off right away for the Bonnies and scoring the first basket just 29 Seconds into the game. 

Ikepeze proved to be the biggest offensive threat for the Bonnies, scoring 11 points and shooting 5-of-9 on field goals for the game. 

Unnecessary fouls, however, seemed to hold the Bonnies back early, with eight team fouls in the first nine minutes of play. 

Despite these early mistakes, the Bonnies, after being down 14-10 with 11:08 left, went on a 10-0 run in four minutes, capping it when a crazy basket by Bobby Plantutis that still managed to go in. 

Vermont answered right back, going on a 14-4 run to close out the first half, giving them a 28-24 lead heading into the locker room. 

The Bonnies held Anthony Lamb to just 9 points in the first half, keeping their game plan and motivation high going into the second half. 

Bobby Planutis scored the first points 30 seconds into the second half. 

The game kept roaring back and forth with the Bonnies finally going up 40-39 with 11:07 left in the game. 

However, the game plan seemed to fall apart when the Catamounts went on a 12-0 run over four minutes.

Then, an unlikely source of motivation led the Bonnies to come charging back into the game. 

Freshman Justin Winston used his aggressive play to snatch defensive rebounds and get to the line. 

Winston, who had 10 points on the night, helped the Bonnies to bring the deficit within five points, trailing 56-51 with 3:36 left to play. 

The Bonnies had many chances to come back, but unfortunately some late fouls and poor shooting held their efforts short, shooting 4-of-27 from three-point range for the game.  

“I thought we played extremely hard,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “If somebody told me that Anthony Lamb was going to score 15 points and go 0-for-7 from threes, I would have thought that we would’ve won.”

“We got to plat smarter and knock down shots,” Schmidt said when asked what his team’s biggest struggles were during the game. 

The Bonnies hope to improve to 1-2 on the season next Tuesday, as they travel to Siena for their first road contest of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

Bona women fall to Akron, 63-54

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Keara Donnelly

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. —  The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team (1-2) started strong, but fell short to the Akron Zips (1-0), 63-54, after a disappointing second half at the Reilly Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Bonnies led the Zips by nine points at half time, but only scored 15 points in the second half. 

The Zips outscored the Bonnies with 33 points in the second half, and went on a 20-4 run to secure the victory.  

The Bonnies had led for over 38 minutes of the game.  

Deja Francis led the Bonnies with 13 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Olivia Tucker shot 3-4 from the three-point line and had 11 points off the bench.  

Dajah Logan and Jurnee President each had nine points for the Bonnies.  

Akron’s Shaunay Edmonds scored 20 points and was 6-14 from the field. She scored nine of those points and seven steals in the second half alone.  

Edmonds forced turnovers from Bona guards Francis and Olivia Brown, which led to easy transition baskets for the Zips.  

The Zips secured 18 points off of turnovers and 24 points off of fast breaks.  

The Bonnies executed well in the first half, connecting on their first six shot attempts as part of a 10-0 run in the first quarter. Akron grabbed its first lead of the game in the second quarter, 22-21.  

In the fourth quarter, the Bonnies froze to only shoot 1-for-13 from the field. 

“We did some really good things for a lot of the game and it just folded like a tent in the fourth quarter,Bonnies head coach Jessie Fleming said.  

The Bonnies shot 36.5% from the field, while the Zips shot 31.6% from the field. Akron drew 21 fouls and shot 80% from the free throw line.  

“I was happy with threes not going down and still being in the game, where we didn’t have to rely on it,” Fleming said. “We should have been living at the foul line today and we were just taking the shots that were given to us today. Great to see that we have the ability to hit 11 threes.” 

It was a close match up, but pour defense in the fourth quarter and missed shots secured the Zips victory.  

“(Akron is) a team that been playing together for a while now,” Fleming said. “I’m not sitting here being negative about this loss. We are a young team that has two sophomores in the starting lineup and two freshmen playing a lot of minutes.  

My message to the team in the locker room was to use this as a learning experience and to continue moving forward.” 

 Now, Bonnies will hit the road for the first time of the season.  

The team will play the defending Patriot League champion Bucknell Bisons at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Game notes: Bonnies host Vermont, hope to slow down Lamb

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE — Two seasons ago, in his hometown of Rochester, New York, Anthony Lamb did almost everything to beat St. Bonaventure.

At Blue Cross Arena, the then-sophomore scored 27 points for the Vermont men’s basketball team, and if it hadn’t been for a Matt Mobley buzzer beater, the Catamounts would have won.

Last December, Lamb went for 42 points in Vermont’s double-overtime win against the Bonnies at home.

Now, the teams will meet for the third year in a row, as they play Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Reilly Center.

Bona head coach Mark Schmidt knows that if his team is going to earn its first win of the season, it’s going to have to slow down Lamb.

“I’m not sure if we have an answer,” Schmidt said on Thursday. “He can shoot the ball from the perimeter, post up, and he presents a lot of problems. I guess we hope he misses.”

Schmidt pointed out the fact that Lamb has averaged nearly 35 points per game against the Bonnies the last two years.

“There’s a couple different ways we can go about (stopping Lamb),” Schmidt said. “We can let him go and try to stop the other guys, or try to stop him and put it on their other players to make baskets.

“He can’t score 42 again, so whatever we need to do, hopefully we can do a better job than last year.”

After playing two preseason exhibitions, this will be Vermont’s first regular season game of the year.

Lamb did not play in the first exhibition vs. Brown, and played just five minutes in the second, against Saint Michael’s College.

A season ago, the Catamounts went 27-7 and were America East conference champions, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.

As a No. 13 seed, Vermont was edged by No. 4 Florida State in the first round of the tournament, 76-69.

“They’re a good team and a veteran team,” Schmidt said. “We knew when we set up the schedule that they have a great program. I’m glad we’re playing at home, but it’s going to be difficult and we need to play our best to have a chance.”

Another Vermont player to watch is junior guard Stef Smith, who averaged 12.4 points per game and scored 21 points against the Bonnies a year ago.

The Bonnies will be without sophomore forward Osun Osunniyi, a preseason all-conference selection.

Osunniyi suffered a bone bruise in his knee in SBU’s season-opening loss to Ohio, and it was reported that he could miss up to a month.

Schmidt said that while losing a player of Osunniyi’s caliber is never good, it gives another player a chance.

“We stress it all the time, that you never know when your name is going to get called,” Schmidt said. “Someone’s name is going to get called tomorrow, and hopefully they’re ready and can take advantage of the opportunity.”

SBU is searching for its first win of the season, after losing to Ohio, 65-53, on Tuesday night.

This is only the fourth-ever meeting between the two programs, as they first met in 2015.

 

Bona women come back to beat Niagara in OT

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

ST. BONAVENTURE — Any basketball game that ends in a victory is something to be proud of, no matter how the game went.

That was what head coach Jesse Fleming had to say about the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball game on Thursday. 

“I don’t care if we win ugly, but it’s my job to clean it up after and get us better, said Fleming. 

Bonaventure won the contest, 71-67, in an overtime brawl at home against Niagara. 

The Bonnies started the game off hot with seven unanswered points, forcing Niagara to call a timeout early. 

The defense of St. Bonaventure would prove to be a problem for Niagara throughout the first quarter. 

Niagara would eventually find their way back into the game, but Bonaventure would lead at the end of the first quarter, 15-11. 

In the second quarter, Niagara began making many shots from deep. Niagara shot 311 from three in the first half, while the Bonnies shot a lackluster 1-10. 

Niagara would take the lead from St. Bonaventure with two minutes left in the first half and keep it heading into halftime, leaving the score 31-30 Niagara. 

This third quarter would not be one St. Bonaventure will want to remember. Niagara started the second half red hot from three-point range, nailing three in the first four minutes. 

The Bonnies would also pick up their fifth team foul with five minutes left in the quarter, giving Niagara the bonus for nearly half the quarter. 

Fleming spoke on the third quarter and the flaws he saw in the team. 

(I’m) a little frustrated with the middle of the second quarter and third quarter,” he said. “I thought we showed some immaturity. Thought we worried too much about the refs. 

“I’m glad we couldget a win and learn from it, but if we want to be a competitive team in the A10 and accomplish some of our goals, we’ve got to grow up and be able to play through some adversity.” 

At the end of the third, the Bonnies trailed Niagara 57-47. 

While the third quarter was one to forget for St. Bonaventure, the fourth quarter was one to remember. 

With 20 seconds left in the game, the Bonnies found themselves down by two points.  

Off the inbounds, sophomore guard Asianae Johnson drew a foul on the shot and head to the free throw line to shoot two. 

With the game on the line, she nailed both free throws to tie the game at 65.  

Niagara would try for a lastsecond score, but the clock showed zero seconds left with the score still tied. 

“We (shoot free throws) in practice every day,” Johnson said. “In tough moments, coach will put us in difficult situations where we have to take pressure free throws and I just thought of it as practice.” 

The Bonnies edged their way back from down 10 in the fourth quarter, outscoring Niagara 18-8 in that span. 

In overtime, Bonaventure took care of business business.  

Johnson and sophomore guard Deja Francis would each score three points for St. Bonaventure in the extra period. 

Those baskets proved to be enough, as the Bonnies win at home in a hard-fought victory. 

St. Bonaventure’s balanced scoring was something to highlight on the night. Fleming said the team needs that type of contribution to win games. 

“If we’re playing basically six and a half people, then we’re going to need four consistently in double digits, he said. 

The Bonnies will be back in action on Sunday when they host Akron at 1 p.m. 

Lack of shooting dooms Bona women in loss to St. John’s

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Justin Myers

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team’s lack luster shooting performance from three hurt it in its season opener Tuesday night.

The team went 1-12, shooting 8 percent for the game in its 68-56 loss to St. John’s.

Even though they struggled to shoot, sophomore Asianae Johnson was a bright spot for the Bonnies.  She finished with 18 points and four rebounds.

Junior Emily Calabrese contributed with 12 points and seven rebounds, and sophmore Deja Francis had nine points in the game.

Even with the contributions from those three, head coach Jesse Fleming emphasized fixing up the offense.

“I thought we did a decent job of clogging the lane and forcing difficult shots,” he said. “We are starting to get better at taking care of the ball and hopefully the offense will come along. Asianae, Deja and Emily displayed some good things tonight.

“I’ve got to figure out a way to unclog the offense,” he continued. “We’ve got to find some ways to get some better flow, and go from one action to the next action.

As a team, the Bonnies shot 45.5 percent from the floor on 25-of-55 shooting.

St. John’s outscored the Bonnies in bench points, 22-5, and in fast-break points, 21-2.

The Bonnies have a quick turnaround, as they face Little Three rival Niagara in the Reilly Center on Thursday.