WBB: Bonnies look to end losing streak against Rhode Island

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Teddy Caputo

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team looks to end a four-game losing streak in its next A-10 matchup against the Rhode Island Rams.

In their previous game last Saturday, the Fordham Rams avoided the upset in the Reilly Center with a 53-44 victory over the Bonnies.  SBU stuck close to Fordham the entire game.  Both teams traded the lead back and forth five times in the first quarter.  However, the Bonnies trailed 16-14 at the end of the quarter. 

The second quarter started off slow, with either team not scoring a basket for the first two and a half minutes.  Both teams played very aggressive and scrappy defense, allowing a combined 16 points for the quarter.  The Bonnies looked for the kickout three-point jumper on the dribble drive, but their shots weren’t falling.   However, the Bonnies stuck close by, going into halftime tied 23-23. 

In the second half, the Rams pulled ahead of the Bonnies and kept the lead for the rest of the game.  The Bonnies came out playing hard and fast, but they couldn’t capitalize on their stops and missed a couple close shots that could have helped them down the stretch.  They also had a few careless turnovers early on that helped give the Rams some momentum.   

Head coach Jesse Fleming reflected on his team’s third quarter struggles, saying, “I thought we missed some mismatch opportunities.  I thought we short armed some layups when we had their forwards against our guards.  We missed a couple looks in transition as well during that stretch in the third quarter, but they did a good job guarding Mckenna.” 

Although the Bonnies struggled offensively to start the second half, freshman guard Asianae Johnson (#2) caught fire.  She scored six of the team’s eight third quarter points and 10 of her 12 points in the second half.  

When no one could hit the bottom of the net, she stepped up and kept the Bonnies in the game when it could’ve gotten away from them fast.  Coach Fleming really liked how Johnson adjusted in the second half to help the team stay in it. 

“I think she is becoming a more complete player even if you take the scoring out of it.  I like how she’s thinking the game a little more,” said Fleming.  “There were a couple times where she missed some mismatches where she could’ve kicked to her teammates, but she’s playing a really nice floor game right now.” 

Even though the Bonnies didn’t win this game, they played with a lot of heart and intensity for the full 40 minutes against the Rams.  When talking to coach Fleming about his team’s effort, he thought they matched Fordham’s toughness and was proud of them for keeping the game close against one of the grittiest teams in this league.  

“I didn’t think we backed down; we played very hard. I just like to see us get more contributions from more players,” said Fleming. “I think the offense will come since we have some good young players who can really score the ball.  It’s always been about whether we can defend at an A-10 level, and I think we’re getting there.” 

The improving defense has come with big contributions from sophomore forward Emily Calabrese (#15). 

Coach Fleming was impressed with Calabrese’s performance after she missed practice the day before from a minor injury and is very happy with her play recently.   

“She’s been an absolute warrior.  She’s going in there, she’s rebounding, she’s battling and she’s working her tail off,” said Fleming.  “She wasn’t having a great start to our season, but I’ve loved the way she’s played and the competitiveness she’s played with in the last couple weeks.” 

When I asked coach Fleming what his team can take away from this game and carry into the next one, he told me he is impressed with the team’s improvement on communication, intensity and execution on defense.   

“I thought we were on our P’s & Q’s, especially that first half defense,” said Fleming.  “There were three of four early breakdowns where we gave up some threes, but I was so happy with how we were able to adjust and pick it up on the fly.  They’re just buying into how hard we need to play, especially defensively, and that’s what I’m happiest about.” 

The Bonnies hope to get their first win since February 3 against Rhode Island on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

Advertisements

Lofton’s game-winning jumper propels Bonnies over La Salle

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

Kyle Lofton did it again. 

The St. Bonaventure guard hit a go-ahead jumper with three seconds remaining and the Bonnies defeated the La Salle Explorers Wednesday night, 62-60. 

Lofton, a freshman, got the ball to start a Bonnies possession with 10.7 seconds left and the score tied. He dribbled to his right, drove to his left and pulled up from the free throw line to send the Reilly Center crowd into a frenzy. 

“It was on me to take the last shot,” said Lofton. “Coach trusts me and gives me room to make errors, so that makes me more comfortable. I was confident and I hit it.” 

Lofton finished the game with 18 points. 

Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said he has been impressed with Lofton’s shot-making ability all season and that the freshman plays beyond his years. 

“I trust him, he plays 40 minutes a game,” said Schmidt. “He hits big shots and he doesn’t play like a freshman. Out of the timeout, I can put the ball in his hands and know that, for the most part, he’s going to make the right play.” 

The game was close the whole way, with SBU leading by four points at halftime. The Explorers came out of the gates strong in the second half, but an and-one dunk from SBU forward Osun Osunniyi followed by a technical on LaSalle gave the Bonnies momentum. They proceeded to go on a 13-3 run. 

The Bonnies led by as many as 11 points in the second half (50-41), but La Salle’s shooting got them back into the game late. 

The Explorers hit ten three-pointers on the night, as opposed to just three from the Bonnies. 

La Salle appeared as if it would get the last possession of the game, but guard Isiah Deas slipped on a drive and turned the ball over, giving Lofton his chance. 

Schmidt talked about SBU’s defensive performance and its struggles that kept La Salle in the game. 

“I always say, if you defend, rebound, take care of the ball and make your foul shots, you’ll do well,” he said. “We only did two of those things tonight. In the last couple games, we took care of the ball and made our free throws, and that’s why we won by a larger margin. We didn’t do those things tonight, which kept it close.” 

Courtney Stockard scored 16 points and dished out seven assists for the Bonnies. Osunniyi had another big night on the glass with 13 rebounds, nine points and five blocks. 

“Defense has always been the main focus of my game,” said Osunniyi. “We feed off the crowd and want to get them in the game early, so if I can block some shots it gets them involved and helps my teammates on the offensive end.”  

La Salle was led by Pookie Powell, who scored 20 points and knocked down four three-pointers. Deas added 16 points. 

Explorers guard Saul Phiri scored 10 points and hit a big three with a minute left to tie the game at 60 before the Lofton magic. 

St. Bonaventure improved to 12-14 overall and 8-5 in the Atlantic 10, and La Salle fell to 8-17 overall and 6-7 in the A10. 

The Bonnies have now won three games in a row and six of their last eight. 

“It wasn’t a masterpiece offensively, but we gutted it out,” said Schmidt. “It was a blue-collar win.”

Schmidt becomes all-time leader with Bona win over George Mason

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team defeated George Mason, 79-56, on Sunday afternoon at the Reilly Center– and after the final buzzer sounded, you couldn’t find a face in the RC without a smile.

The win was the 203rd of head coach Mark Schmidt’s career at Bonaventure. That number breaks Larry Weise’s career record for coaching wins at the school, which had stood for 46 years.

The afternoon was capped off by a tear-jerking postgame video tribute.

Congratulatory messages from former Bonnies star Andrew Nicholson, Bona alumnus and top ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, Larry Weise himself and more were followed by a nostalgic trip through some of Schmidt’s most notable wins.

The milestone victory comes 12 years after Schmidt took over the Bonaventure program.

“When you make family decisions like we did, you just never know if you’re making the right decision or not,” said Schmidt. “But I feel comfortable here. The people here have taken us in and made us feel welcomed, and it feels like home.”

Lost in the Schmidt hype was one of the best performances the Bonnies have turned in this season, and another stellar game by a freshman guard.

Kyle Lofton scored a career-high 32 points and shot 7-8 from behind the three-point line. He also dished out seven assists.

Lofton banked home his first three-pointer of the game, and after that, he caught on fire.

“When you see the ball go in, the hoop gets bigger,” said Lofton. “I’ve stayed confident and put bad games behind me. I’ve been in the gym mornings and nights getting reps up which makes me confident.”

Lofton scored 18 of his points in a first half that saw the Bonnies play inspired and jump out to a 17-point lead at the break (42-25).

SBU led 16-0 after the first media timeout, and Lofton had 11 points. He played the entire game until Schmidt emptied out his bench with a minute to go.

“Kyle couldn’t have played better,” said Schmidt. “Hitting those early shots relaxes you, allows you to play more free and gives you energy on the defensive end.”

The Patriots knocked down some shots midway through the second half to get back into the game, pulling the deficit to as little as 10 points. They were unable, however, to shoot consistently enough to overcome the first-half hole.

GMU was without senior guard Otis Livingston II for a good portion of the game, as he would only play 20 minutes while dealing with an injury.

Justin Kier stepped up for the Patriots, leading them with 21 points. Livingston II would finish with 10 points, and Javone Greene also scored 10. 

For St. Bonaventure, Courtney Stockard added 17 points and Osun Osunniyi turned in another superb defensive effort with 11 rebounds and five blocks. Dom Welch chipped in with 10 points.

The Bonnies improved to 11-14 overall and 7-5 in the Atlantic 10. George Mason fell to 15-11 and 9-4 in the A10.

SBU has now won five of its last seven games, and will next face La Salle at home on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The Bonnies continue to climb in the A10 standings, and now sit just one game out of fourth place.

“We want to get into the top four and get the bye until the quarterfinals,” said Schmidt. “Can you win the tournament playing four games? Yeah, but it’s easier to do it in three.”

In a season that has featured less success than Bonnies fans have recently been accustomed to, Sunday’s game and what the win meant to Schmidt and the program gave them a lot to be thankful for.

“I love it here,” said Schmidt. “And hopefully I’m here for a lot more years.”

VCU rolls over sloppy Bonnies

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu 

By Keara Donnelly

The Virginia Commonwealth Rams (17-6) defeated the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (9-14), 85-55, at the Reilly Center Saturday afternoon.   

The Rams’ explosive offense and tight defense lead them to an easy 30-point victory. The Bonnies only shot 25 percent from the field and 0-8 from the three-point line in the first half. 

The Bonnies fell behind early after the Rams went on a 15-0 run to take a 20-4 lead. The Rams played tight man to man defense and shot 50% from the field.  

 “It was the worst game of the season,” stated Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt. “The game was over in the first 15-20 minutes.” 

 The second half wasn’t any better as foul trouble was a problem for the Bonnies. Courtney Stockard and Osun Osunniyi fouled out of the game after picking up early fouls.  

 Stockard had 15 points and LaDarein Griffin had 10 points.  

 The Bonnies shot only 26% percent from the field and only made one three-pointer (Nelson Kaputo), which was a season low for the team.  

 “I think the stats speak for themselves,” Schmidt stated. “From an offensive standpoint, we didn’t play well at all. We couldn’t make any shots and we turned the ball over.” 

 St. Bonaventure heads to Michael J. Hagan Arena in Philadelphia to face the St. Joseph’s Hawks Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. 

Fourth quarter surge pushes Rams past Bonnies

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Isaiah Blakely

A 20-6 fourth quarter advantage propelled the VCU Rams (17-6, 9-1 A-10) to a comeback victory over the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (7-15, 4-5 A-10) 59-50 Wednesday night in the Reilly Center. 

The Bonnies started out with a 9-2 lead including freshman Asianae Johnson’s eight points.  

The Bonnies stifling defense continued as they took an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. They held VCU to only 19% shooting.  

In the second quarter, the leaders in the A-10 woke up. The Rams went on a 19-6 run to take the lead after sophomore Sofya Pashigoreva’s layup. Pashigoreva was part of a dominant night on the glass for the Rams. The Bonnies were outrebounded 36-28. 

Despite the rebounding differential, Bonnies freshman Deja Francis helped stopped the run by the Rams by scoring two of her seven points to tie the game at 27 with three seconds left in the half. 

It was a back fourth affair throughout the third quarter. Sophomore Emily Calabrese was the first player in double figures by scoring eight of her 10 points in the third quarter. Calabrese capped off a strong quarter for the Bonnies with a buzzer beater to put the Bonnies up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter.  

The fourth quarter was a similar story to the second quarter. The Bonnies went almost seven minutes without scoring, leading to a 14-0 run for the Rams to start the quarter. Johnson scored a layup to end the run but VCU was up 54-47. Coming out of the timeout freshman Kseniya Malashka hit a rare three-pointer to put VCU up ten and down the Bonnies.  

Johnson led the game in scoring with 15 points, while the Rams were paced by sophomore Taya Robinson who had 13 points and junior Danielle Hammond 12 points.  

“The way we’ve played for two weeks now and the way we’ve shared the ball; we’ve got athleticism and a good rotation,” said coach Jesse Fleming.  “We were so locked in to start the game that I thought we were going to be able to finish.” 

Fleming is opportunistic about this team’s development. 

“We’re getting closer,” “We’re showing some really good flashes. But, there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to keep working on.” 

The Bonnies look to continue their improved play on the road Saturday against Davidson. 

Davidson dominates second half to beat Bonnies

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

by Keara Donnelly

A much anticipated Atlantic 10 rivalry game Friday night on ESPN2 ended with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (8-13) falling short to the Davidson Wildcats (16-5), 75-66, after a disappointing second half at the Reilly Center.

The Bonnies led the Wildcats by 10 at halftime, but only scored 22 points after the Wildcats switched to zone defense. The Wildcats shot 8-15 from beyond the arc to earn the win. They started the second half on a 14-4 run.

It was tight match up until Davidson’s Kellan Grady took control with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Wildcats a 64-57 lead with under four minutes left. Jon Axel Gudmundsson followed with consecutive three-pointers to give the Wildcats an 11-point lead with under two minutes left to secure the win.  

The Wildcats’ strong defense caused the Bonnies to shoot 8-27 from the field in the second half. The Wildcats were 13-26.

“(In the second half) as you start missing, the rim gets smaller and things get tighter,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “Our guys didn’t quit, we just didn’t play 40 minutes and that’s what you have to do when you play a good team like Davidson.”

Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies with 24 points, tying his season high.

“(Lofton) plays with a poise, he plays with that swagger,” said Schmidt. “Not overconfidence, but he knows that he can make plays. He’s a good player, and he’s going to be a really good player.”

St. Bonaventure travels to the A.J Palumbo Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6 to face the Duquesne Dukes (15-6) at 7:30 p.m.

Bonnies hold off Fordham for second conference win

By: Justin Myers 

ROCHESTER, N.Y.— Rochester has become a second home for St. Bonaventure.

On Saturday at the Blue Cross Arena the Bonnies not only won their second straight conference game 71-64.  They also won their sixth consecutive game at the Blue Cross Arena.

The Bonnies 6-10 (2-1) dominated the first half, limiting the Rams 9-7 (0-3) to 15 points and a 16-point halftime lead, 31-15.

Early in the second half the Bonnies extended their lead to 21 points, but Fordham would not go down without a fight. The Rams went on a 17-2 lead by guard Nick Honor who lead all scorers with 23 points. This run cut the Bonnies lead 56-52 with 3:00 remaining.

Kyle Lofton and LaDarien Griffin hit two free throws each that led to a defensive stop. Griffin’s second shot added to Bonaventure’s 60-52 lead with 2:20 remaining.

Fordham pulled to within five points with 30 seconds left in game on two Jalen Cobb free throws, but Griffin again sank a pair of free throws to keep the Bonnies ahead. The Rams made two three-pointers in the last 11 seconds, but Osun Osunniyi capped off the win with a dunk the ball in the final seconds.

The Bonnies had four players in double figures. Osunniyi finished the game with a double-double 16 points and 12 rebounds. This is the 6-10 center’s third double-double of the season.

“He plays the game the right way, he plays it unselfishly,” said coach Mark Schmidt. “He had 16 and 12, but he’s more from a defensive standpoint, blocking shots and just being a presence inside, which is critical for our defense. When he’s out on the floor, we’re that much better,” Schmidt said.

The other three Bonnies in double figures were Courtney Stockard and Griffin who both scored 17 points while Kyle Lofton added 12.

St. Bonaventure will travel to the Ryan Center to face the Rhode Island Rams next Wednesday, Jan. 16.

Sloppy Bonnies pounded by Syracuse

By:Jeff Uveino 

SYRACUSE—We knew going into this game that this season’s St. Bonaventure Bonnies didn’t have the firepower that allowed them to go into the Carrier Dome and beat the Syracuse Orange a year ago.

However, this year’s trip to the Dome for the Bonnies may have been even more miserable than most expected.

This one was over from the start.

Syracuse (9-4) defeated St. Bonaventure (4-9), 81-47, in the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon. The Orange opened the game on a 17-2 run and never looked back.

Turnovers early in the game were the story for the Bonnies. They turned the ball over five times in the first four minutes of the game, leading to eight Syracuse points. The Bonnies would finish the game with a whopping 25 turnovers, 14 of which came in the first half.

“We didn’t have any answers,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “They’re so long and the windows to get the ball in close quickly. We tried to get the ball to the middle of the zone and it just wasn’t working for us.”

Syracuse guard Tyus Battle finished with a game-high 21 points, including 10 of the team’s first 13.

“We’ve been having good practices, and I think that showed today,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “We didn’t shoot lights out of anything, but I thought we played a good overall game.”

Elijah Hughes added 16 points for the Orange, and Buddy Boeheim added 12 points. Despite the Orange scoring over 80 points for just the third time this season, Coach Boeheim said he was impressed by his team’s defensive effort.

“They didn’t have a real threat inside, which helped us,” Boeheim said. “We were able to get to their perimeter shooters and stay on them.”

The SBU offense was behind from the start as its leading scorer, senior Courtney Stockard, picked up his second foul before the under 16 media timeout.

Stockard, who had averaged 19 points per game coming into Saturday’s contest, finished with just two points and seven turnovers in 15 minutes.

Schmidt talked about the difficulty of playing against Syracuse’s zone defense, especially with many of his players seeing it for the first time.

“You can’t simulate their zone in practice,” Schmidt said. “For our young guys to see that for the first time in a game is tough.”

Bonnies freshman guard Kyle Lofton said the zone was unlike any he had played against before, and the Orange made it hard for him to operate the offense from the point guard position.

“A lot of spots would look open, so we’d try to force the ball,” Lofton said. “They’re long and athletic so it was hard.”

Lofton led the Bonnies in scoring with 12 points on the day.

Also for St. Bonaventure, Jalen Poyser scored 12 points and Melki Moreaux added seven points.

The Bonnies finished non-conference play with a disappointing four wins, and will begin Atlantic 10 competition on Jan. 5 at George Mason.