Men’s basketball: Bona faces tricky test at Duquesne

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Senior guard Marcus Posley may have summed up St. Bonaventure’s current situation best when he took to his Twitter account after the Bonnies’ 69-64 win over Rhode Island and posted a simple message: “Shhhhhh…”

Posley and his teammates have taken a quiet approach to the team’s 4-0 Atlantic 10 start, and they certainly aren’t going to look ahead to Tuesday night’s much-anticipated matchup with Dayton before handling the task at hand first. The Bonnies travel to the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh to take on the Duquesne Dukes at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Duquesne has started the conference slate at 1-3, with losses to Dayton, Davidson and George Washington and a 10-point victory over Saint Louis. The Dukes averaged 67.2 points a game in those three games and allowed 76.2, 10th in the league in both categories. They are surprisingly last in three-point field goal percentage but first in field-goal percentage defense.

Despite the rocky start to their opponent’s conference campaign, the Bonnies know that there are no easy wins in the Palumbo Center. Last season, it took a furious comeback when Posley scored 12 points in the final 2:35 of regulation to send the game to a shocking overtime. The Bonnies ended up the 100-97 victors, but they learned the importance of playing a full 40 minutes in Pittsburgh.

Will the Dukes get revenge, or will the Bonnies improve to 5-0 in the A-10? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 136-126 as Bonnies coach.

Duquesne- Jim Ferry. 39-63 as Dukes coach.

Key players for Duquesne:

Derrick Colter- 5-foot-11 senior guard. Colter is a scrappy, entertaining player who leads the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game and chips in 3.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and a steal a game as well. He has scored in double figures in all four conference games so far, with 17-point efforts against Davidson and Saint Louis. A torrid late-November stretch saw him score 20-plus points in three of four games to end the month, and the team went 3-0 in those big games. The Forestville, Md. native is an excellent offensive player and a great on-ball defender.

Micah Mason- 6-foot-2 senior guard. Mason is normally one of the league leaders in three-point shooting, which makes his 5-of-20 clip in his first three games of A-10 play a concerning mark for Duquesne. After he made five threes against Georgia Tech to close out the non-conference schedule, the Natrona Heights, Pa. native missed the Dayton game due to a sprained ankle; his shot hasn’t been right since. He has, however, had Bona’s number in his career, shooting 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from behind the arc in four games against SBU.

L.G. Gill- 6-foot-7 junior forward. In last year’s classic at the Palumbo Center, Gill scored 13 points, including three triples, in 31 minutes off the bench. This season, he is averaging 9.1 points and a team-best 6.4 rebounds a game, with a double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds) against UMBC on Dec. 8.

Keys to victory for Duquesne- The Dukes have been outrebounded in two of their three A-10 losses and carry an even rebounding margin, while Bonaventure is first in the conference at plus-four (37.2 rebounds per game, 33.2 for the opposition). Gill and junior center Darius Lewis are the leading rebounders and will have to outpace Dion Wright, Derrick Woods, Jordan Tyson and Denzel Gregg on the glass to win the ballgame.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure: The Bonnies need to have a strong first half. They came out flat at Duquesne last season, allowing 51 points in the first 20 minutes and heading to the locker room down 12. The kind of magic they produced in the final stages of that game won’t come every visit, so a halftime lead would go a long way towards a victorious outcome.

On the road, Bona has to come out firing, attacking the basket and playing strong defense from the opening tip. The last thing the brown and white want is a letdown before Tuesday night.

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