(Photo Credit: Erik Schelkun, Elsestar Images)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
After a rollercoaster ride away from home last week, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team heads back home on Wednesday at 7 against Duquesne.
The last time Bona was at home, a win over George Washington in front of a sellout crowd vaulted the team into the bubble conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Three days later, the bubble seemed to burst after a complete letdown at La Salle, only to be restored after Saturday’s upset win at Dayton.
A lot can happen in a week.
SBU knows the importance of each game now, as an at-large bid to the big dance likely hinges on winning its last four regular season games. Against a Duquesne team it lost to on Jan. 16, however, it will not be easy.
The Dukes (15-12, 5-9) have lost five straight games and dropped seven straight in the Reilly Center, but they matched up well last time they faced the brown and white, a 95-88 victory. Bonaventure’s Big Three (Adams, Posley and Wright) was firing on all cylinders offensively, combining for 54 points, and Denzel Gregg had 19 himself, but the defensive effort was the poorest of the season.
Duquesne shot 52.5 percent (32-of-61) from the floor, with guards Micah Mason and Derrick Colter combining for 50 points on a 13-of-27 mark.
“Those are really good guards and they’re going to get theirs, but we’ve just gotta try to control them as much as possible,” Adams said. “Kind of limit their touches as much as possible, so when the ball gets out of their hands, just not let them get it back for as long as we can possibly do that.”
Mason and Colter weren’t the only ones who had strong performances in the first meeting; they were two of five Dukes to score in double figures (Eric James 16, L.G. Gill 12, TySean Powell 10).
“Team defense is the key,” Adams said. “If we can play defense as a team, we should be able to slow them down.”
That game was Bonaventure’s first conference defeat after a 4-0 start. The Dukes also gave Dayton a game at UD Arena, but fell by two on Feb. 9. They did what the Bonnies couldn’t do, however, when they beat La Salle by 27 on Jan. 26.
Duquesne is third in the A-10 in field goal percentage at 46.1 percent and third in field goal percentage defense, holding teams to just 41 percent shooting from the floor. It shares the ball well, averaging a second-best 15.8 assists a game. Giveaways have been an issue, however; the Dukes are second-to-last in the league in turnover margin at -1.74.
According to Adams, the Bonnies are looking for some revenge after their early-season defeat in Pittsburgh.
“We’re definitely taking this personal,” Adams said. “I think if you’re a good team, you shouldn’t let a team beat you twice in a year. I think we learned from the first game, we watched film, so we know what they can do, and we’re definitely taking it personally.”
One of the emerging candidates for the league’s player of the year honor didn’t shy away from the bubble talk, either.
“I think it’s a lot more pressure knowing that we’ve kind of got to win,” Adams said. “But at the same time it’s a good pressure. It’s gonna help us going down the stretch.
“I think we play better under pressure anyway, to be honest with you.”