photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Anthony Goss
RICHMOND, VA —After a season-best offensive output against La Salle earlier in the week, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team was challenged in a physical rematch with a fellow NCAA Tournament hopeful on Friday.
The Bonnies (10-3, 8-3 A-10) fell just a possession short to the VCU Rams (15-4, 8-2 A-10) in a 67-64 defeat at the Siegel Center on Friday.
From the opening tip, Jalen Adaway was in rhythm offensively for SBU. Adaway scored Bona’s first nine points, as it grabbed a 9-4 lead with 13:31 remaining in the first half. He would go on to lead all scorers with 23 points and added eight rebounds to his stat line.
The game went back and forth in the opening frame, and at the under-four minute timeout, the Bonnies and Rams were locked at 24. With 3:33 remaining in the first half, Na’Shon “Bones” Hyland hit a three-point jumper that began a 9-2 VCU run to secure a 33-26 halftime lead.
“They’re a good defensive team,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They deny stuff, they play physical, so we knew it was going to be a challenge.”
Fouls plagued the Bona attack early, with second-leading scorer Jaren Holmes picking up his second foul less than four minutes into the game. St. Bonaventure committed 24 fouls in total, and all SBU starters finished with at least three fouls.
The VCU momentum carried into the second half, and less than three minutes after the break, the VCU lead expanded to 43-31.
“If the game was lost, the game was lost in the first four or five minutes of the second half,” Schmidt said.
After falling behind, St. Bonaventure found success going inside to Osun Osunniyi. With 9:18 remaining, the Ram lead was cut to 53-51.
Osunniyi finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, but fouled out with 3:10 remaining in the game. Dominick Welch accounted for 10 points and Kyle Lofton had eight points on only six shots.
The Rams kept the Bonnies at a distance though, as Bonnies could not pull closer than a two-point deficit the rest of the game. With less than 10 seconds to play, a missed free throw by Vince Williams Jr gave the Bonnies a chance to send the game into overtime, but Welch missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
“We had a shot to tie the game,” Schmidt said. “It’s a difficult place to play, but we were right there.”
Despite the Bonnies shooting 44% from the field compared to 36% from the Rams, the havoc presented by VCU made a difference, as the Bonnies accounted for 15 turnovers compared to 11 from the Rams. The Rams nearly doubled SBU on the offensive glass as well, beating St. Bonaventure 19-10.
“From an offensive standpoint, we shot a higher percentage,” Schmidt said. “They got more shots because of the offensive rebounding.”
Second chance points proved critical in this close matchup, with the Rams scoring 16 to just 10 from the Bonnies.
Hyland finished with a team high 22 points, while Williams Jr added 11 points for the Rams.
With the loss, SBU fell out of first place and is now half-a-game back from the Rams, who now lead the A-10. Due to the disparity in games played among the top teams, St. Bonaventure sits in fourth place behind Davidson and UMass.
“We gotta fix some stuff, but we were right there,” Schmidt said. “I was proud of the effort.”