Osunniyi dominates, leads Bonnies to opening victory in Cleveland

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

CLEVELAND, OH — In its first game in nine months, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team picked up its first win of the season by beating the Akron Zips, 81-74, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Bonnies were led by Osun Osunniyi, who had a career-high 25 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists. The Bonnies controlled the entire game, stretching their lead to 10 points for most of the game.   

“I’m proud of our effort with all the challenges we have had since the Atlantic 10 Tournament was cancelled last year and having to quarantine,” said Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. “I thought the kids came out excited to play and the veterans got us out to a great start.”

The Bonnies forced the Zips into 17 turnovers with swarming defense on Akron star point guard Loren Cristian Jackson.

 “We were active defensively and we did a decent job on Jackson,” Schmidt said. “We made baskets when we needed them and got decent stops. (Osunniyi) did a good job inside and (point guard) Kyle (Lofton) did a good job handling the ball.”

Jackson would finish with a team-high 22 points.

Bona’s defensive success started early with a couple of steals from Lofton and Dom Welch.  This led to two assists from Osunniyi, a Welch three-pointer and a Lofton layup, stretching the lead to 23-12 with nine minutes remaining in the first half. 

In the second half, the Bonnies didn’t slow down. The Bonnies lengthened their lead to 50-33 before Jackson cut it to 10 with 9:45 remaining. But, the Bonnies kept their composure and didn’t let them back into the game, led by Osunniyi. 

Lofton finished with 17 points and five assists for Bona, while Welch scored 18 points and pulled down five rebounds.

After the game, Osunniyi spoke about his ability to expand his offensive game this year. 

“It felt good,” Osunniyi said. “Shooting the midrange shot and knocking it down, I’ve been working all summer on that and just trying to expand my game and not just be an inside presence.”

The Bonnies were not sharp shooting the ball, shooting 1-for-14 from three-point range and 20-for-28 from the foul line. Fortunately for them, Akron shot 6-for-32 from three, and the Zips couldn’t get stops on the defensive end when they needed to. 

The Bonnies will continue their season against Hofstra on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Reilly Center. 

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