By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
It was St. Bonaventure’s Senior Day on Saturday afternoon, but the four Bonnies playing their penultimate game on their home court probably forgave Marcus Posley for stealing a lot of the spotlight.
The junior guard scored 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including six threes, to lead the Bonnies to a 92-75 victory over the Duquesne Dukes in front of 4671 fans at the Reilly Center. It was Bona’s first home win since they upset VCU on Feb. 7.
Posley’s performance snapped him out of a brutal nine-game stretch where he shot just 11-of-66 (11 percent) from three-point land. The Bonnies had slumped during his individual woes, but found an offensive flow as he found his scoring touch.
To combat junior guard Iakeem Alston’s recent struggles running the point, Bona coach Mark Schmidt started Posley at the point, with Andell Cumberbatch at shooting guard, Denzel Gregg at small forward, Dion Wright at power forward and Youssou Ndoye at center. Posley was able to dish out five assists in addition to his 29 points.
“The main thing was to just get the guys going first,” Posley said. “Coach wanted me to start at point guard, so I wasn’t really focused on taking a lot of shots. (I just focused) on playing good basketball and getting everyone involved first.
“When you hit the first couple the basket seems a little bit bigger. (I) found a rhythm a little bit early, so it’s a good feeling.”
“It’s not like that’s the first time we’ve done this; since Jay (Adams) got hurt we’ve done this,” Schmidt said. “Maybe this is the most we’ve done it, but I think Marcus is getting more comfortable in that spot and hopefully he can continue to do as well as he did today.
“It’s a transition that we’re making, and it’s late in the year but you can’t make any excuses; injuries are a part of the game. I thought (Marcus) struggled a little early, but hopefully this gives us a little bit of a confidence boost.”
The seniors were not too shabby themselves.
Andell Cumberbatch scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor, including four threes, for his second-best scoring output of the season (24 against Siena). Youssou Ndoye registered 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor and a 9-of-14 clip from the free-throw line. Chris Dees only had two points but was able to grab four rebounds and play efficient defense despite being in foul trouble for much of the second half.
“This game was for the seniors, and we can’t win for the seniors if the seniors don’t do their part,” Schmidt said. “I thought all three seniors played a role in this (win).”
“These last two games I’ve been coming out flat, especially in the first half, and it’s been hurting us,” said Ndoye. “Today I was just really focused on making sure that I came out aggressive so everybody could get into it early.”
The 92-point outburst was just what the doctor ordered after the Bonnies were able to score just 46 against George Washington.
“We wouldn’t have won today if we had scored 46 points,” Schmidt said. “You can play as well as you can defensively but you still have to play offense, you still have to score some points.
“It was good to see the ball going in from beyond the arc, so (Duquesne) had to space (the floor) out and then we could get the ball inside. If you don’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter everything’s collapsed and our (power forwards) and (centers) can’t do what they need to do.”
Defensively, the Bonnies paid close attention to getting the right individual matchups. Cumberbatch was on Dukes guard Derrick Colter for much of the contest, while Posley was matched up with guard Micah Mason.
Colter and Mason make up one of the best-shooting backcourts in the A-10, but were only able to make three combined three-pointers on Saturday. It was a far cry from the Dukes’ 14-of-28 mark from three last time these teams met.
“We tried to put some length on Colter,” Schmidt said. “I think he’s the engine that makes them go, and Andell’s our best perimeter defender (and) longest defender, and that’s what we tried to do.
“Marcus did a tremendous job on Mason, and we were switching a lot but they did a good job. One of the keys was trying to keep those guys in front of us, and we didn’t do a good job in game one (against them), but we did a much better job today. Both Marcus and Andell did a good job, but the other guys were there to help too.”
Dion Wright was only 3-of-9 from the floor, but went 9-of-12 at the foul line to give himself 15 points. Idris Taqqee played 20 minutes off the bench, a career high, scoring nine points and grabbing six boards. Denzel Gregg was affected by cramps but was able to score four points and grab five rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I thought (Denzel) and Idris did a tremendous job,” Schmidt said. “They didn’t score the ball a ton, but they did what they need to do. We’re a little bit shorthanded; it’s tough when you have to move guys around, but I thought Marcus said it right: it’s next man up.
“Everybody has to do their job… and everyone has to play better, which we hadn’t done in a couple games. Everybody has to elevate their game, and they did that today, including Youssou and Dion.”
The Bonnies’ victory elevated them to 15-12, 8-8 in the Atlantic 10. Bona likely must win both of their remaining games (at St. Louis on Wednesday, home against Fordham next Saturday) if they hope to climb to the seventh seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament.