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. 

PREVIEW: Bonnies set to finally begin season in Cleveland

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

CLEVELAND, OH— The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team is scheduled to open its season on Tuesday when it takes on the Akron Zips at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Well, we’ll see. The Bonnies have been waiting and waiting to take the court this year. Entering Monday, the Bonnies are still one of 23 teams yet to play this year in the NCAA. 

SBU has already had five games canceled this season, as a canceled trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena bubble in November was followed by a canceled home opener against St. Francis (PA) last Saturday.

“It’s frustrating,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It’s challenging. But, we’re not the only team that’s going through this. Our guys are tired of practicing and tired of quarantining.”

Bona had been previously forced to pause all team activities for 18 days following a positive COVID-19 test on Nov. 19.

“We took two and a half weeks off, and when we came back, it was more conditioning and trying to get the kids back in shape like we would when they come back after the summer time,” Schmidt said.

Akron has also dealt with delays in its schedule this season, with a two-week shutdown resulting in only playing one game. This past Saturday, the Zips won handily over Cedarville, 97-49, led by senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson.

Last season, Akron finished 24-7, and 14-4 in Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) play.  The Zips had four players averaging over 10 points per contest.  Three of those players are no longer with the team, leaving Jackson to run the show.  They are looking for Jackson, Ali Ali and Cameron Reece to fill the key losses.   

Jackson was tremendous for the Zips last season, and was named the MAC player of the year, as well as to the Lou Henson All-American team, and tallied over five 30-point performances. 

“They’re well coached and they play extremely hard,” Schmidt said. “(Jackson) is one of the best point guards in the country. They lost a number of guys off of last year’s team, but they didn’t lose the engine. He makes them go.”

Standing only at 5’8 and weighing 150 pounds, Jackson is a menace with the ball in his hands. Bona guard Kyle Lofton will have his hands full with Jackson, but can use his size at 6’3, 190 pounds to slow him down. 

“They run multiple ball screens for (Jackson), so that’s something we’re going to do a good job on,” Schmidt said. “Somehow, some way, try keep him out of the paint as much as we can. The other thing is, they really shoot the ball.”

The Zips attempted 40 three-pointers against Cedarville, making 16 of them.

The teams have met twice before, with the Bonnies dropping both.  The first time SBU played Akron was in 1942. The last meeting between the two teams came in the Cayman Islands two years ago, as the Zips beat the Bonnies, 61-49.  In that game, the Bonnies were missing three starters in Dom Welch, Courtney Stockard, and LaDarien Griffin.

Tuesday’s game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m., and can be found on ESPN3 or the Bonnies basketball radio network. 

“I think we’re all appreciative of the opportunity to play,” Schmidt said. “Im thankful that we’re going to be able to play and give the kids the chance to do what they love to do.”

Bona women fall to Akron, 63-54

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Keara Donnelly

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. —  The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team (1-2) started strong, but fell short to the Akron Zips (1-0), 63-54, after a disappointing second half at the Reilly Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Bonnies led the Zips by nine points at half time, but only scored 15 points in the second half. 

The Zips outscored the Bonnies with 33 points in the second half, and went on a 20-4 run to secure the victory.  

The Bonnies had led for over 38 minutes of the game.  

Deja Francis led the Bonnies with 13 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Olivia Tucker shot 3-4 from the three-point line and had 11 points off the bench.  

Dajah Logan and Jurnee President each had nine points for the Bonnies.  

Akron’s Shaunay Edmonds scored 20 points and was 6-14 from the field. She scored nine of those points and seven steals in the second half alone.  

Edmonds forced turnovers from Bona guards Francis and Olivia Brown, which led to easy transition baskets for the Zips.  

The Zips secured 18 points off of turnovers and 24 points off of fast breaks.  

The Bonnies executed well in the first half, connecting on their first six shot attempts as part of a 10-0 run in the first quarter. Akron grabbed its first lead of the game in the second quarter, 22-21.  

In the fourth quarter, the Bonnies froze to only shoot 1-for-13 from the field. 

“We did some really good things for a lot of the game and it just folded like a tent in the fourth quarter,Bonnies head coach Jessie Fleming said.  

The Bonnies shot 36.5% from the field, while the Zips shot 31.6% from the field. Akron drew 21 fouls and shot 80% from the free throw line.  

“I was happy with threes not going down and still being in the game, where we didn’t have to rely on it,” Fleming said. “We should have been living at the foul line today and we were just taking the shots that were given to us today. Great to see that we have the ability to hit 11 threes.” 

It was a close match up, but pour defense in the fourth quarter and missed shots secured the Zips victory.  

“(Akron is) a team that been playing together for a while now,” Fleming said. “I’m not sitting here being negative about this loss. We are a young team that has two sophomores in the starting lineup and two freshmen playing a lot of minutes.  

My message to the team in the locker room was to use this as a learning experience and to continue moving forward.” 

 Now, Bonnies will hit the road for the first time of the season.  

The team will play the defending Patriot League champion Bucknell Bisons at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.