(Photo credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
If St. Bonaventure fans were told before Wednesday night’s game against Buffalo that the team would make just two of its 21 attempted three-pointers, shoot just nine three throws to the Bulls’ 32 and score one time in the last 6:14 of the game, they would most likely fear a blowout loss.
Instead of a demoralizing defeat that would have put a sour taste in their mouths, the Bonnies escaped Amherst, N.Y. with a 60-58 victory in a game that had two of the alumni clad in brown and white heading to the exits exclaiming, “we’ll take it!”
Those alumni can give a lot of thanks to Wright, who was the exception to the brown and white’s otherwise feeble shooting performance, setting a career-high with 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting and dishing to Posley for the game-winner with eight seconds left. He was one of five Bona players to pick up three or more fouls in the contest, but that didn’t limit his aggressiveness. He played all 20 minutes in the first half, scoring 16 points in the period, then stayed out of foul trouble and kept his team in the game in the second.
“All the credit goes to Dion; I don’t take any credit,” said Posley. “Just because I hit that last shot doesn’t mean anything. Dion kept us in the game.”
Wright’s previous high point total came in last year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal loss to Dayton, where he went for 24 thanks to a remarkable shooting night that included a remarkable and unexpected four threes. Against Buffalo, however, it was back to business as usual: dominating down low, with 11 of 12 baskets coming in the painted area.
“My teammates found me in positions where I was able to score, and I just tried to make the most out of my opportunities when I caught the ball,” Wright said.
The Bonnies have played the Bulls all four years Wright has been playing. He didn’t play a major role in the first two games, but made his last two matchups against one of the team’s Big Four rivals count, averaging 22.5 points and shooting 58 percent from the field.
“He played terrific… he kept us in the game,” said head coach Mark Schmidt. “Our guards weren’t shooting the ball well, but Dion was effective. He’s a hard matchup, because he’s a four-man who can take guys off the dribble. We wouldn’t have won without his offensive output.”
Schmidt’s assessment was an understatement. Wright shot at a 63 percent clip from the field while the rest of the team shot 30 percent. Posley had double-digits with 13 and came through in the clutch as he has many times in his brief Bonaventure career, but was an inefficient 6-of-18 on his field goals and 1-of-8 from three. Jaylen Adams was the only other Bonnie with more than five, but he shot 1-of-8 and missed all three deep balls. All six of Nelson Kaputo’s shots were threes; he only made one. Denzel Gregg only played 10 minutes due to foul trouble and ended up reaching the limit of five, so he was not able to continue his early-season offensive contributions.
One of Schmidt’s favorite lines in postgame press conferences is that “every dog has its day,” or that “everybody’s going to get their day in the sun” offensively. On a night where SBU found themselves unable to hit jumpers in a road environment, Wright was the top dog giving his team the upper hand.
Buffalo coach Nate Oats summed up Wright’s performance the way many Bona opponents have: “I’m not gonna be sad to see him leave, for sure. He hurt us two years in a row now.”