Bona women fall to VCU in overtime

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By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Mistakes can be crucial late in any college basketball game, and that proved true for the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team on Sunday.

Asianae Johnson was issued a technical foul in the overtime period of a 59-57 loss to VCU at the Reilly Center, and the Bonnies had a shot to win the game on its last shot, but a Tori Harris three-point attempt rimmed out as the overtime clock expired.

Despite the mistakes throughout the game, the Bonnies had four players reach double-figure scoring on Sunday. Harris, a junior guard, led the way for SBU with 18 points and six rebounds. Johnson, a junior, followed closely behind with 15 points. Sophomore Olivia Brown and junior Deja Francis joined with 12 and 13 points, respectively. 

Brown hit three clutch three-point shots, shooting 4-for-8 from beyond the arc on the day, which kept the Bonnies in the game after trailing early in the second half.

Despite the efforts from his team, head coach Jesse Fleming had a strong message during his press conference following the loss. 

“Close doesn’t matter,” Fleming said. We need to find a way to start winning games. There are tears in that locker room and it’s tough for them, but life’s not fair. Win, lose, whatever, we go back to work. That’s all you can do.” 

Although Fleming acknowledged there was some slopy play throughout the game, he also acknowledged the ability of his team to acknowledge the mistakes and improve on them as the contest progress.

“We need to do a little better job on reads late,” Fleming said. “We need to be a little more locked in to defend some assignments. We got screwed up in (the defense) that we were in, and that’s a coaching mistake.”

The Rams were led by Sydnei Archie and Tera Reed with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Maddison Hattix-Covington added 10 points for the Rams.

The Bonnies, who fell to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the A-10, will welcome La Salle to the RC on Friday at noon. The game’s broadcast of the contest can be seen on ESPN+. 

Bona women unable to complete comeback vs Richmond

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By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Despite 18 points from Asianae Johnson and a game-high 11 rebounds from Tori Harris, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team fell to Richmond, 59-58, at the Reilly Center on Friday. 

The Bonnies trailed by four points at the halftime and needed a momentum swing. Instead, they found themselves facing a ten-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.  

Sophomore Olivia Brown took things into her own hands to get SBU back into the game, however, and hit back-to-back three pointers before Johnson made a free throw to tie the game at 54. Ultimately, Richmond freshman Grace Townsend scored the game-winning basket and sunk a clutch free throw afterward to put the Spiders ahead for good.

“I just give (Brown) a ton of credit for fighting back in the fourth quarter,” Bona head coach Jesse Fleming said. “She made a couple shots but, she rebounded and she got on the help side and she was there.” 

With seven seconds showing on the clock, Richmond’s Kate Klimkiewicz missed two big attempts from the free throw line. Deja Francis took the ball down the court after the second miss and tried to find an open Brown on the wing, but the Bonnies couldn’t get a shot off before the game clock expired.

“I didn’t want to call a timeout, we had two ball handlers on the floor,” Fleming said. I thought it was a layup, it was a slot drive we practice every day.” 

Fleming said he explained the expectations to his team in a timeout before the free throws. 

“I thought we won the game; I thought (Francis) was going up with the layup. We just have to learn from it,” Fleming said. 

One of the biggest challenges for Fleming and his staff going forward is finding what the best player rotation is going to be down the stretch. 

“Right now, (the team is) still trying to figure out the lineups and who is going to be there and who is going to be consistent for us,” Fleming said. “We can be dangerous if we can get nine or 10 people playing their role.” 

I’yanna Lops was able to chip in 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting and one freebie from the charity stripe to tie her career high. 

“We think she has a really high ceiling,” Fleming said of Lops. “I think we are just scratching the surface with her.” 

Klimkiewicz finished tied with Johnson for a game-high 18 points, and pulled down nine rebounds. Claire Holt and Addie Budnik each scored 12 points for the Spiders, while Harris had 12 points for SBU.

The Bonnies will return to the RC on Sunday to meet VCU at noon on ESPN+. 

Bona-GW postponed due after Colonials report positive test

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By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Another day and another postponement within Atlantic 10 men’s basketball.  

St. Bonaventure’s contest against George Washington, slated for noon Saturday at the Reilly Center, was postponed Friday amid COVID-19 concerns within the Colonials program.

“George Washington notified Atlantic 10 and St. Bonaventure officials of a positive COVID-19 test result from a Tier 1 staff member in the team’s traveling party on Friday,” a statement released by the SBU athletic department read.

Tier 1 personnel includes student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials. According to the statement, the Colonials men’s basketball program will remain on pause per Atlantic 10 coronavirus guidelines until contact tracing and further testing is completed.  

The cancelation comes a day after George Washington’s game Wednesday against UMass was also postponed due to a curfew in Washington D.C. following that day’s riots at the United States Capitol.  

Both teams have been impacted by the virus on multiple occasions this year, both with opponents dealing with COVID-19 and with cases in the programs themselves. 

SBU’s game against Buffalo last month was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns amongst the Bulls, while the Bonnies were forced to pull out of a tournament at the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut in late November due to a positive test within their Tier 1 personnel.

GW, meanwhile, had a game postponed against William & Mary and a game cancelled against South Carolina due to those programs’ COVID-19 issues. 

The Colonials are next scheduled to play Jan. 13 against VCU in Washington, while the Bonnies will be back in action at Fordham the same day. 

Lofton’s value, versatility shine in 11-assist performance

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If you’re a fan of box scores and a fan of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball, you’ve probably gotten used to seeing double-digit numbers next to Kyle Lofton’s name in the points category.

Lofton averaged over 14 points per game in each of his first two seasons at SBU, and through five games of a young 2020-21 season, he has averaged 13.2 points per game. On Wednesday, however, Lofton scored only four of Bona’s 83 points in a blowout win over Saint Joseph’s.

What the junior guard lacked in points, he made up for on the rest of the stat sheet.

Lofton dished out 11 assists, pulled down eight rebounds and had one steal against the Hawks, while two of his teammates enjoyed career-high scoring nights. Jaren Holmes scored 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting and 8-for-12 three-point shooting, while Jalen Adaway scored 24 points after shooting 11-for-12 from the field.

While Lofton’s offensive output against the Hawks was unusual for a player that had scored at least 13 points in each of the team’s first four games this season, Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said that his stat line on Wednesday showed the leadership that he brings to the team.

“He’s the leader,” Schmidt said. “He doesn’t care whether he scores one point or 25 points; he wants to win. He shared the ball and he’s smart.”

Lofton, who is a career 44% shooter from the floor and 32% shooter from beyond the three-point line, was 0-for-7 against the Hawks, and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. Despite struggling to make shots, he only turned the ball over twice.

“That’s what’s so special about him,” Schmidt said.” He doesn’t care about scoring. His shot’s not going down, but he’s still a team guy and that’s what you want.”

Since Lofton arrived at SBU before the 2018-19 season, he has been Schmidt’s “floor general” at the point guard position. He has averaged over 37 minutes per game (regulation-length games are 40 minutes) in each season for the Bonnies. He played 35 minutes in his collegiate regular-season debut two seasons ago.

Since the departure of Jaylen Adams from the point guard position for Bona three years ago, Lofton has been the guy that Schmidt has trusted to run that position, which is the centerpiece to his offensive system.

Lofton has shown that he has been a competent successor to Adams, being both durable and consistent in the back court. He started all 34 of the team’s games two years ago and all 31 of its contests a year ago. Over his career, he has averaged 4.9 assists per game and 2.3 turnovers per game.

And, even on nights that Lofton struggles on the offensive end, he makes plays for the Bonnies.

“He knew that (Holmes) had a hot hand (against Saint Joe’s), and every point guard, that’s what you do,” Schmidt said. “You go back to that guy. A lot of times, when you don’t shoot the ball well, your head goes down and you get worried about that, but (Lofton is) not that type of kid.”

After Adams graduated in 2018, it was a change of pace for Bona fans to see someone else playing point guard in Mark Schmidt’s offense.

When Lofton leaves, presumably after four full years of manning the point for the Bonnies, perhaps SBU fans will feel the same way about his successor.

Holmes scores 38 as Bona blows out Saint Joseph’s

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If Jaren Holmes had been the only player to score for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the Bonnies would have only lost to Saint Joseph’s by 19 points.

Holmes had a career-high 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting from the field and 8-for-12 shooting from three-point range, as the Bonnies blew out the Hawks, 83-57, on Wednesday at the Reilly Center.

Bona took a four-point lead into halftime, but it was a 25-6 second-half run that spanned nearly 10 minutes of game time that put the Hawks away. During the run, Holmes scored 17 points and hit three triples. After the Hawks finally broke a dry spell from three-point range with a triple by Jack Forrest, Holmes responded with a three of his own.

Four minutes later, he hit two more three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cap the best shooting night of his career.

“Guys kept giving me the ball in the right spots,” Holmes said. “My job at (SBU) is to hit shots, and I think I did that today. It definitely was my night. “

The junior guard from Romulus, Michigan attributed his success to finding holes in the Hawks’ zone defense, which SJU played nearly the entire game.

“They had holes in their zone, so we were just trying to exploit them,” Holmes said. “I was in those spots and ready to fire. We practice those shots in pregame warmups, and those were the shots that I was hitting tonight.”

Holmes’ shooting confidence, he said, has been aided by not only gelling with his teammates, but by the number of reps he has been able to get in leading up to this season.

“I’ve been getting a lot of reps in,” he said. “Shooting late nights, early mornings, and working with the guys and telling the guys ‘I’m here’ or ‘look for me there’. We’re just trying to feed off of each other. Me getting 38 (points) without my teammates is almost impossible, especially playing (against the) zone.”

Nearly lost in Holmes’ exceptional game was an 11-for-12 shooting night from Jalen Adaway, who scored 24 points without attempting a three-point shot. Adaway also pulled down seven rebounds and handed out four assists.

“(Holmes) and (Adaway) played exceptionally well,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We had 27 assists and seven turnovers; any coach in America would be happy with that. We attacked their zone effectively and we out-rebounded them, so we hit all of our marks.”

Holmes’ eight three-pointers land him third all-time for the most in a game in Bona history, not far behind Jaylen Adams, who hit 10 triples on 13 attempts against Saint Louis in 2018. Holmes also had 10 rebounds in the game, giving him his first double-double of the season.

Schmidt said that Holmes’ commitment to basketball and the time that he puts into the sport have shown.

“Every kid that works their tail off, as a coach, you want them to be successful and have nights like this,” Schmidt said. “I’m proud of him, and I know his teammates are.”

Adaway’s performance didn’t go unnoticed to Schmidt, either.

“(Holmes) has had some success in the Atlantic 10 before, but (Adaway) hasn’t,” Schmidt said of the junior transfer from Miami (OH). “A night like this should give him a lot more confidence.”

The Bonnies out-scored the Hawks 51-29 in the second half and shot 47% from the floor, while SJU shot 37%. Bona junior guard Kyle Lofton was kept off the score sheet for most of the night, but found other ways to contribute, dishing out 11 assists and pulling down eight rebounds to go with his four points.

Taylor Funk and Cameron Brown each scored 13 points for Saint Joseph’s, while Jordan Hall just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists. The Hawks fell to 0-8 and 0-3 in A-10 play.

The win was SBU’s second in a row, as the Bonnies now sit at 2-1 in A-10 play after beating Richmond and losing to Rhode Island. Bona is 4-1 overall.

“We’re getting more camaraderie with the new guys coming in, and I love the step that we’re taking,” Holmes said. “Ultimately, this was just a great win for us and a great stepping stone to keep moving up in the A-10.”

The Bonnies will be back at the RC on Saturday to play George Washington in a game that is scheduled to tip off at noon.

“You win and be competitive in the Atlantic 10 by winning your home games, protecting your home court, and trying to steal some on the road,” Schmidt said. “We’ve stolen one on the road, now we’ve protected our house one time. We have many more times where we need to protect our house, and we need to steal some more on the road.”

Bona set for A-10 home opener Wednesday vs St. Joe’s; will host GW Saturday

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By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — It’s hard to declare a statement win in the first four games of the season, but Kyle Lofton’s dagger in the Robins Center on Saturday afternoon was a strong response for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team to conclude a week that started with adversity.  

On the Wednesday before Bona’s win over Richmond, sophomore forward Justin Winston announced his intention to transfer. Just hours later, the Bonnies suffered their first defeat of the season in an ugly game against Rhode Island, during which junior guard Jaren Holmes left early with back spasms. Three days later, the Bonnies responded in dramatic fashion and displayed the importance of experience in conference play.  

Lofton’s game-winner will be the play Bona fans remember from the team’s 69-66 win at Richmond, but a combined from the team resulted in a statement win that could impact the Bonnies going forward.  

“Beating them gave us, myself and the coaches confidence on how good we can be in this league,” Lofton said. “Guys like Jaren (Holmes) and Dom (Welch) that aren’t talked about much, they mean so much to this team.” 

After a week on the road, the Bonnies head home for their first Atlantic 10 conference games at the Reilly Center, the first being a Wednesday matchup against a St. Joseph’s team looking for its first win of the season.  

The Hawks’ current 0-7 record could be deceiving, as they had a daunting schedule that included matchups against Kansas, Villanova, and Tennessee. St. Joe’s has also fallen to A-10 opponents VCU and Rhode Island, the latter of which defeated the Hawks in overtime on Saturday.  

“There’s a lot of teams in this country that would be 0-7 playing the schedule they have played,” SBU head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They are much better than 0-7.” 

The Hawks are led by junior guard Taylor Funk, who averages 16.4 points per game. However, they will be without their leading scorer, senior guard Ryan Daly, who has averaged 17.2 points per game on the season. 

The Bonnies defeated the Hawks twice last season, 74-56 in the first matchup and 89-73 on senior day. Funk missed both games last season with a thumb injury, but as a 6’8 guard, his versatility will be the key for the SJU offense.  

“He can really shoot the ball,” Schmidt said. “He presents a lot of problems because he’s a screen and pop guy and it’s hard for a five man to go out there and get to his shot. “He has a high IQ for the game so he is going to be a handful (on Wednesday).” 

The Hawks like to shoot the three, and will look to sophomore guard Dahmir Bishop to do so. Bishop has averaged 10.3 points per game and has shot 34.8% from three-point range to contribute offensively in the absence of Daly. Jack Forrest, a sophomore guard, has averaged 8.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.  

“They are playing free. If you’re a shooter that’s the type of style you want,” Schmidt said. “It’s imperative we do the best job we can keeping the ball in front of us.” 

St. Joe’s leads the A-10 in three-point attempts, but the Bonnies pose the best three-point defense in the conference.  

“Transition defense and one-on-one defense is going to be crucial (on Wednesday),” Schmidt said.  

After their matchup against St. Joe’s, the Bonnies will welcome George Washington to the Reilly Center Saturday afternoon. The Colonials have a 3-7 record, but have started 2-1 in A-10 play with wins against Fordham and Duquesne.  

The Bonnies swept GW in two games last year, edging them 71-66 on the road before rolling, 72-47, at home.

The Bonnies tip off against St. Joe’s at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon on ESPN+. On Saturday, tip off is scheduled for noon against George Washington. That game can be shown on NBC Sports Network.  

Lofton’s game-winner pushes Bona past Richmond for first A-10 win

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By Nic Gelyon

RICHMOND, VA — “You want the ball in his hands at the end of the game to make a play.” 

That’s St. Bonaventure men’s basketball head coach Mark Schmidt speaking about junior guard Kyle Lofton. Lofton’s step-back three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining in the game iced a 69-66 win for the Bonnies at preseason Atlantic 10 favorite Richmond on Saturday.  

St. Bonaventure continued its dominance over Richmond, a team the Bonnies have beaten in five of six previous matchups in the last four years. 

During last season’s 75-71 nail-biter against the Spiders, then-sophomore guard Jaren Holmes shined, contributing 17 points, four rebounds and an assist in one of his best performances as a Bonnie. Holmes scored another 17 points on Saturday, with three rebounds and two assists.

Holmes, who suffered an injury in the team’s previous game, was a game-time decision, having played just one minute in the Bonnies’ loss to Rhode Island on Wednesday. He managed to play 31 minutes on Saturday in an efficient showing from the now-junior.

 “He’s just a player,” Schmidt said of Holmes. “That toughness, he brings that… that’s what we were missing at the Rhode Island game, that toughness. He makes big time plays when you need them.” 

Lofton wasn’t far behind with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, as well as one rebound and three assists. He also went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Bonaventure’s 12-for-14 free-throw shooting played an important role in keeping up with a dangerous offensive team in Richmond.  

In the first half, SBU’s largest lead was six points, a lead that would last only until the Spiders went on a run of seven consecutive makes in the final four minutes of the half. St. Bonaventure’s starters, specifically Lofton and forward/center Osun Osunniyi, looked gassed on defense toward the end of the half as the Spiders bullied the Bonnies in the paint with three consecutive layups. Richmond guard Blake Francis’ buzzer-beating three would give the Spiders a 35-33 lead at halftime. 

Schmidt said that halftime is where the problems began for the Bonnies in their loss to URI.

“We didn’t get off to a good start in the second half against Rhode Island,” Schmidt said. “By getting off to a good start in the second half, it sets the tone for the half, and I think the guys did a really good job in that situation.” 

Indeed, coming out of halftime, both teams traded blows. St. Bonaventure went on a streak of five consecutive makes, including a three by Holmes. The Spiders managed to answer back with a three of their own Blake Francis, as they tried to continue their momentum from the end of the half with a 40-39 advantage.   Neither team shot well from beyond the arc on Saturday, with both sides shooting under 30%. 

Francis’ triple proved to be the last time Richmond would lead in this game, as Bonaventure answered it a minute and a half later with a pull-up jumper from Lofton to take a 41-40 lead. 

SBU was aided by several Spider miscues, including forward Tyler Burton fouling out of the game with just over a minute left in regulation. Burton, one of the Spiders’ best three-point shooters and their best free-throw shooter, had been in foul trouble for most of the game.  

With fifteen seconds left in the game and Bona leading by one, Bona guard Dom Welch was called for a foul, sending Spiders forward Grant Golden to the line for two. Had he made both free-throws, Richmond would’ve had a 67-66 lead, and wouldn’t have had to hit a three down the stretch to tie the game. He only hit one of the two. Osunniyi grabbed the rebound and the Bonnies called a timeout. 

Off the timeout, Lofton drove the ball up the court following a game-tying jumper by Blake Francis. He dribbled around the top of the key with six seconds left in the game. With two seconds left, Lofton pulled up, off-balance, a couple feet behind the arc.   

He hit the shot. The Bonnies avoided going 0-2 to start A-10 play, and advanced to 3-1 overall on the season.

Osunniyi finished with seven points and 13 rebounds, while Welch scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Richmond was led by Francis, who scored 21 points and handed out three assists. Jacob Gilyard had 13 points for the Spiders, while Nathan Cayo turned in a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

After the game, the character of Lofton and Holmes, as well as the entire team, was not lost on Schmidt.

 “Having a difficult game at Rhode Island, you know, we didn’t play well,” Schmidt said. “It was a struggle… we didn’t play a perfect game today by far, but I thought they handled adversity, they learned from their mistakes. The kids responded in a positive way, and that’s what you like from a coaching perspective.” 

Bona will now return home and prepare for St. Joseph’s, against whom the team will host its A-10 home opener on Wednesday.

Bona fades late, opens A-10 play with loss at Rhode Island

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By Anthony Goss

KINGSTON, RI — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team prides itself upon limiting its opponents defensively, then controlling the offensive pace of the game by taking optimal shots and using the boards as a means for extra chances. 

Wednesday’s matchup against Rhode Island saw the Bonnies struggle with the latter.  

In their conference opener, the Bonnies traveled to Kingston to face URI in what was an ugly game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The Bonnies and the Rams combined for 44 turnovers as both teams failed to establish any consistent rhythm on offense.  

“They pressured us, but we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It just looked like we were a step slow.” 

Another problem for St. Bonaventure was rebounding, as Rhode Island controlled the glass, out-rebounding SBU, 42-29. Both teams were equal on the offensive glass, but URI limited second possessions for the Bonnies by dominating the boards defensively. 

In the first half, the Bonnies secured a 12-6 advantage, but their lead soon dwindled, and the rest of the half was a back-and-forth contest. With neither team able to find a consistent source of scoring, the Bonnies took a 29-27 lead into the break.  

Despite their merits on the defensive end, offensive woes plagued the Bonnies’ scoring attack, as baskets seemed few and far between. The Bonnies shot 39% from the field and only shot 10 free throws compared to 25 for the Rams.  

“We missed a lot of bunnies, you know, we didn’t take the ball to the basket hard enough,” Schmidt said. 

Rhode Island used a 13-0 run to steal the lead at the beginning of the second half, helped by the shooting of Jeremy Sheppard, who led the Rams with 17 points. The Bonnies responded with 10-0 run, led by Jalen Adaway and Anthony Roberts, who made his debut for the brown and white. 

Adaway made an impact in his third game as a Bonnie, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds.  

“We hung in there,” Schmidt said. “Got off to a bad start in the second half, but we fought back and showed some toughness.” 

St. Bonaventure eventually knotted the game at 47 all with 5:24 remaining, but Mahkel Mitchell of Rhode Island responded with a dunk that put the Rams up for good, as they held on to defeat the Bonnies, 63-57.  

The Bonnies’ dynamic duo of Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi had a quiet afternoon, as Lofton finished with only points and Osunniyi finished with eight points. Osunniyi, stifled by the Rams’ defense, fouled out with 3:47 remaining.

Antwan Walker turned in a double-double for the Rams with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Jermaine Harris had eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

“There’s no moral victories.” Schmidt said. “We didn’t play well enough to deserve to win today.” 

The Bonnies will prepare for a quick turnaround, as they head to Richmond to face the Spiders, the preseason favorite in the A-10, on Saturday.