photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Anthony Goss
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — As the calendar turns to the next month, the Bonnies will enter without a loss in the month of January.
The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team (9-1,7-1) clinched this perfect stretch by cruising to an 84-67 win over George Mason (8-7,4-5) at the Reilly Center Saturday afternoon.
The Bonnies raced out to a 11-3 lead, which swelled to a 19-5 difference after Bona guard Dominick Welch made a driving layup. The lead would grow to as much as 20 before halftime.
“I was going with the flow of the game,” Welch said. “I was feeling good today.”
After not making a shot a week ago against Duquesne, Welch exploded in the first half, going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and tallying 18 points.
“I think Dom goes under the radar a little bit, but he’s a heck of a player,” Bonas head coach Mark Schmidt said. “When Dom plays with confidence, and is rebounding the basketball and shooting the basketball, we’re that much better a team.”
After taking a 44-26 lead into halftime, Bona’s kept the Patriots at a distance for most of the second half. The three-point shooting of George Mason guards Jordan Miller and Tyler Kolek energized a few spurts for the Patriots, as they shot a combined 5-for-9 from three in the second half. Miller led the Patriots with 19 points in the game and Kolek finished with 17 points.
“I think we relaxed a bit and they got some penetration,” Schmidt said. “We allowed too much dribble penetration, and that’s something we need to work on.”
Despite the shooting of George Mason, the Bonnies earned their lead and held onto it because of their performance in the paint. Bona center Osun Osunniyi posted his second double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 15 rebounds. The Bonnies led the Patriots in points in the paint, 48-24, and also in rebounding, 38-27.
“(Osunniyi) was aggressive. He was much stronger, much more assertive,” Schmidt said. “We need him to do that, we need an inside presence so it takes some pressure off of our perimeter players.”
In addition to the performances of Welch and Osunniyi, junior guards Kyle Lofton and Jaren Holmes added 20 points and 14 points, respectively.
For the third-consecutive game, the Bonnies defeated an opponent they were not originally slated to play. At the beginning of the week, Bona’s was scheduled to travel to Davidson, but COVID-19 issues within the Wildcats’ called for a postponement of the matchup.
“We’re lucky to have a veteran team that understands, that can turn the page,” Schmidt said. “It’s been a challenge.”
Nonetheless, the Bonnies have fought through a shortened schedule and managed the continuing carousel of postponements and cancellations within their conference. The win against George Mason is their seventh straight and gives the them their best A-10 start in program history.
“Bonaventure basketball has rich tradition, and great teams and great coaches,” Schmidt said. “It’s something you can look back on and appreciate.”
Next up for Bonnies is a road trip to Saint Joseph’s. The Bonnies beat the Hawks, 83-57, earlier this season, and will look to continue their successful start.
“I think we have a really close team, I think the guys really like each other,” Schmidt said. “If you’re tight off the court and you have good relationships off the court, you’re gonna have good relationships on [the court].”