photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Anthony Goss
PITTSBURGH, PA — Playing tough and winning as a unit, Mark Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team are now off to a historic start.
Achieving this mark was no easy task, rather it required an emotional and physical slugfest against SBU’s long-time Atlantic 10 rival, Duquesne. The Bonnies beat the Dukes for the second time this season, however, knocking off Duquesne, 65-61, at La Roche University.
The Bonnies overcame an early 12-4 deficit to take the lead, which grew to as many as 10 points when junior guard Dominick Welch hit a free throw to put the Bonnies up 29-19. In the last three minutes of the half though, the Dukes stormed back to take a 32-31 lead into the break. After a back-and-forth second half, Duquesne senior center Michael Hughes tied the game at 55-55 with 3:29 left.
Then, Jalen Adaway took control.
“He played really well for us,” said Schmidt, SBU’s head coach, of Adaway. “We wouldn’t have won without him.”
Adaway finished the game with a double-double, earning 12 points and 10 rebounds along with two blocks coming off the bench. Left out of the starting lineup due to a non-COVID-19 related illness, the junior forward asserted himself with a crucial and-one basket that put the Bonnies up 58-55 after the made foul shot.
On the next possession, Adaway soared above the Dukes for a put-back flush off of a Kyle Lofton miss, igniting the St. Bonaventure bench and leaving Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot and the Dukes in disbelief. Adaway proceeded to block two shots and sank three foul shots in the last 90 seconds to push the Bonnies to their seventh-consecutive A-10 win.
“We just knew it was crunch time, and I just tried to do what I could to help us come out with the win,” Adaway said. “Whether it was grabbing a couple of rebounds or making those foul shots, I just wanted to win, we all just wanted to win, so I tried to do whatever it took.”
The heroics of Adaway were key, but the contributions of other Bonnies were essential, as well. Kyle Lofton led the scoring with 17 points, while Welch continued his hot shooting from Wednesday night’s, win going 3-for-5 from three-point range and finishing with 14 points. Jalen Shaw also saw big minutes after starting forward/center Osun Osunniyi found himself in early foul trouble, contributing seven points in 16 minutes.
“We have an amazing group of guys, and our chemistry is through the roof,” Adaway said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of such a group, you know, with our coaching staff and our program as a whole.”
Only shooting 39.6% from the field and turning the ball over fifteen times, the Bonnies found an edge on the boards with a 42-35 advantage in rebounds, and shot 18-of-25 from the foul line compared to 12-of-16 from Duquesne.
“Hopefully, our offense gets going, our shooting gets going, but you still win,” Schmidt said. “The staple of any good program is defense and rebounding and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.”
Tavian Dunn-Martin led the Dukes with 18 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from three, and Michael Hughes added 15 points, going 7-for-11 from the field. Marcus Weathers finished with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, while all other players for Duquesne were held to single-digit scoring.
With their second loss to the Bonnies, Duquesne now falls to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
Bona’s streak now grows to six straight wins for the Bonnies in A-10 play, now siting at 8-1 overall (best start since 2000-01) and 6-1 in the A-10 (best start since 1982-83). St. Bonaventure’s lead in the A-10 is now a full game ahead of UMass and Davidson, the latter of which the Bonnies will face next Saturday on the road.
“It wasn’t a pretty game on either end for both teams,” Schmidt said. “But we found a way to win and that shows a lot of character, it shows a lot of competitiveness.”