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

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

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.  

Bona survives Hofstra comeback, wins home opener

photo by Craig Melvin

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — For a moment, it looked like another run-away victory. Then, it wasn’t.

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team defeated Hofstra for the second year in a row on Saturday, in a game that turned out to be much closer than the contest’s start would have indicated.

When the Bonnies jumped out to a 30-7 lead early in the first half, flashbacks of SBU’s 28-point victory over the Pride last December transpired. The Bonnies carried a 15-point lead into halftime, but Jalen Ray got hot for Hofstra from the three-point line in the second half and led the Pride back.

After a frenzy of lead exchanges in the game’s final 10 minutes, the Bonnies went on a 13-3 run to close the game and beat Hofstra, 77-69.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “You knew they were going to come back, but I didn’t think they were going to come back in the second half and outscore us by 27 at one point.”

Trailing by 13 points with 15 minutes left in the second half, Hofstra went on a 29-14 run that spanned 11 minutes and gave the Pride a 66-65 lead. From there, Schmidt’s group responded.

With the game tied at 66 points each, Dominick Welch hit a three-pointer that was followed by a 12-foot floater by Kyle Lofton and two Osun Osunniyi dunks.

“When they took the lead, I thought our guys collected themselves, didn’t hang their heads and fought back,” Schmidt said. “But we beat a good team. Our goal was to be 2-0, and 1-0 at home, and we accomplished that.”

Lofton scored a team-high 16 points, and also dished out nine assists and pulled down four rebounds. Welch scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds while shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“We got comfortable with the lead,” Lofton said. “When we got to the end, we knew it was go time. We couldn’t play laid back. We had to be aggressive. We knew that we had to get stops and rebounds, and finish out possessions.”

Osunniyi had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. He briefly came out of the game two minutes into the second half after picking up his second personal foul.

Osunniyi was replaced by Jalen Shaw, who scored four points in nine minutes of action. In the eight minutes that Osunniyi was on the bench, the Bona lead shrunk from 13 points to three.

“I got into foul trouble, so me not being in the game, I just tried to bring energy from the bench,” Osunniyi said. “It all comes down to the veteran leadership and the more experienced guys telling everybody to stay calm, run our offense and play defense.”

Ray, who scored a game-high 28 points, was instrumental in Hofstra’s second-half comeback. He shot 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, including 5-for-7 in the second half, when 19 of his points were scored. Isaac Kante finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Pride, while former Bona guard Tareq Coburn scored nine points.

Schmidt mentioned several positives that he took away from his team’s performance, including out-rebounding Hofstra by 15 and having a team total of 19 assists compared to 11 turnovers.

“We’ve got to get better,” Schmidt said. “We can’t give up 20-point leads. There are a lot of challenges going on, but I’m proud of our mental toughness.”

Lofton, Welch and Osunniyi each reaching double-digit scoring figures was also encouraging, Schmidt said.

“We need them,” he said. “They’re juniors now; they’re the main guys. Those three guys, along with Jaren (Holmes), need to score the ball.”

Holmes finished with nine points and eight rebounds, while Jalen Adaway had nine points and five rebounds. Eight different Bonnies got on the score sheet.

This is the first time that SBU has started 2-0 in a season since 2013-14, and the first time that Bona has won its home opener since 2016-17. Bona will host “Big 4” rival Buffalo on Tuesday to wrap up the Bonnies’ non-conference schedule.

“I think everybody is slowly starting to find their way on this team,” Osunniyi said. “The new guys are trying to find their way and see where they fit in. That’s good for us.”