(#12 Denzel Gregg and #21 Dion Wright Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Sunday afternoon’s contest between St. Bonaventure and Richmond featured two of the most offensively competent teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Therefore, many of the 5,263 observers in attendance at the Reilly Center would have anticipated a free-flowing, high-scoring shootout.
The Bonnies had a potent offensive display in the second half, but the matchup senior guard Marcus Posley previously called a “must-win” was won on the defensive end. Bona held the league’s second-best offense to a meager 29 second half points in an 84-68 victory.
The Spiders looked comfortable offensively in the first 20 minutes, shooting 50 percent from the field and receiving a valuable boost from freshman point guard Khwan Fore. The Huntsville, Al. native scored 13 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting, including two threes, along with grabbing four boards. Junior forward T.J. Cline added nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, while three players (Terry Allen, Deion Taylor and Marshall Wood) chipped in five points each.
In the second, however, SBU locked into a zone defense that gave Richmond fits, starting the half on a 23-6 run. Fore scored just one basket in four attempts in a period where his team went 9-of-33 from the field and 4-of-16 from behind the arc. Cline and junior guard ShawnDre’ Jones attempted to keep the Spiders in the game with 20 of the 29 points, but the brown and white were able to score 51 points in the half and coast to victory.
“I thought the second half was the best basketball that we could play, from a defensive standpoint,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt. “When we play that way defensively, we can compete with anyone in this league. The last three games that we lost, we didn’t get it done on the defensive end, but in the second half we did a tremendous job.”
Allen, Jones, Wood and senior Trey Davis were each held below their season scoring average in the Spiders’ lowest scoring output since a Jan. 5 loss to Rhode Island. The 38.5 shooting percentage was their lowest in conference play.
“We played some zone, because everyone knows how good Richmond’s man offense is (with) all the backcuts and dribble handoffs,” Schmidt said. “We had some problems in the first half guarding it, but we mixed it up in the second half. I thought our guys did a really good job in the zone, keeping the ball in front of them, rebounding the ball… the zone was a positive today.”
Senior forward Dion Wright recorded his ninth double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the victory. Dealing with a team as physical as Richmond was far from easy (SBU went to the foul line 30 times, knocking down 24 of their freebies), but the Carson, Calif. native focused on matching the intensity of Allen, his primary matchup on defense.
“(Allen)’s a really good player,” Wright said. “I was watching film on him, just trying to take him out of his game a little bit, front the post and try to play good defense on him… I knew that he was one of the best offensive players, so I was trying to take touches away; as many as possible.”
It was a strong offensive day for senior guard Marcus Posley, who registered a game-high 26 points with an 8-of-17 mark from the field, including four threes. Posley also dished out six assists, as did teammate Jaylen Adams, whose 18 point performance included a perfect 8-of-8 clip from the free throw line. Denzel Gregg, the team’s most effective “non-Big Three” player, scored 10 points to get back into double figures after two single-digit outputs.
One of the biggest surprises of the matchup was redshirt freshman center Jordan Tyson, who started for the fourth time this season and registered four blocks in the first six minutes of play. The big man ended up with five points, five blocks and four rebounds in 20 minutes of play. After fouling out in the two previous games, he was only charged with three personals on Sunday.
“One of the things we were missing without Jordan when he was hurt was physicality inside,” Schmidt said. “His numbers aren’t great, but just being there and being able to body up guys, that helps. He was a big reason why I thought from a defensive standpoint we were better tonight.”
The Bonnies improved to 5-3 in Atlantic 10 play with the win, moving them into a tie with George Washington for fourth in the conference. The two teams will meet on Feb. 13.