MBB: Bonnies hold off Duquesne in Atlantic 10 quarterfinals

photo by Megan Lee/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

RICHMOND, VA — The last time Dominick Welch, Osun Osunniyi and Kyle Lofton had played in the Atlantic 10 tournament, they fell eight minutes short of a conference championship.

That was in 2019, when the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team lost a second-half lead to Saint Louis, abruptly ending the Bonnies’ run at the NCAA tournament. Two years later, the top-seeded Bonnies (14-4) avoided a second-half comeback by No. 9 Duquesne (9-9) and beat the Dukes, 75-59, in Friday’s A-10 quarterfinals at the Siegel Center.

Welch scored a game-high 18 points for the Bonnies while pulling down nine rebounds. The junior guard shot 7-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-10 from 3-point range.

SBU dominated the Dukes on both ends of the floor in the first half, taking a 40-19 lead into halftime. Duquesne cut into that lead in the second half, going on a 12-0 run in less than two minutes of game time. Emotion filled the arena during DU’s comeback, culminating in a bench-clearing scuffle at mid-court that resulted in an “administrative technical,” as it was called by the public address announcer, being called on the Bonnies.

“I thought we lost some focus,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said of the Duquesne comeback. “We got lackadaisical, loose with the ball. Duquesne upped their pressure a little bit, we didn’t handle it that well.”

Jaren Holmes ended the run by hitting a floater, which he followed with a dunk after a Duquesne turnover. After a media timeout with 12 minutes remaining, the Bonnies regained control of the game and didn’t give it back.

“Sitting in the timeout, letting the guys know, we’re still up by 10, so we were still in decent shape but we needed to make a run,” Schmidt said. “I thought our guys refocused and they got some stops, got some buckets and that was the game.”

Holmes, a junior guard, scored 14 points for the Bonnies, while Osunniyi stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. During the Dukes’ comeback, Osunniyi said that Schmidt told his team to keep its composure.

“We knew that they were going to make a run, they’re a good team,” Osunniyi said. “So, while they were figuring everything out, (Schmidt) just told us to relax, play loose, play to win and we got our composure back and played our game.”

Bona made a conscious effort to get the ball to Osunniyi in the post, which the junior forward/center said shrinks opposing defenses.

“It’s easier for my teammates to make shots when the ball is coming inside out, so you want to go inside early,” Osunniyi said. “Because if I’m being a presence inside, it kind of shrinks the defense to come help me more.”

He was equally impactful on the defensive end of the floor, where he battled with Duquesne senior center Michael Hughes for much of the game.

“I thought (Osunniyi) was terrific offensively, but more important, defensively,” Schmidt said. “Blocking shots. That was a huge key.”

Hughes led Duquesne with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Tavian Dunn-Martin and Tyson Acuff each scored 12 points. Bona held Marcus Weathers, Duquesne’s leading scorer that had averaged over 16 points per game going into Friday’s contest, to three points.

This was Bona’s third victory over the Dukes this season, as SBU has held Duquesne to an average of 57 points per game.

“We got some stuff off of our defense, got some stuff in the open court,” Schmidt said. “I thought against Dayton (on Monday), we were sluggish with the ball, the ball was sticking… we moved the ball from side-to-side a little bit better today in the first half.”

Junior forward Jalen Adaway scored 12 points for SBU, while Lofton scored 11 points and handed out five assists. The Bonnies shot 49% from the field while holding Duquesne to 34% shooting from the field and 25% from 3-point range.

With the win, the Bonnies advance to Saturday’s semifinals, where they’ll play No. 4 Saint Louis in a rematch of the fateful 2019 A-10 championship game. While much speculation exists over their NCAA tournament chances, Friday’s win moved the Bonnies a step closer to a berth.

“Our guys have done a really good job of being able to turn the page,” Schmidt said. “The task at hand today was to leave 1-0.”

Despite the hype surrounding a potential NCAA appearance in Indianapolis in two weeks, Schmidt said that the team still has business to take care of in Richmond.

“We didn’t come (to Richmond) to go 1-0, we came here to go 2-0, and now we’re halfway there,” Schmidt said. “Now we’ve got to go back, get some rest and hopefully we can play better (Saturday).”

Bonnies beat Duquesne for second time

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

PITTSBURGH, PA — Playing tough and winning as a unit, Mark Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team are now off to a historic start.  

Achieving this mark was no easy task, rather it required an emotional and physical slugfest against SBU’s long-time Atlantic 10 rival, Duquesne. The Bonnies beat the Dukes for the second time this season, however, knocking off Duquesne, 65-61, at La Roche University.

The Bonnies overcame an early 12-4 deficit to take the lead, which grew to as many as 10 points when junior guard Dominick Welch hit a free throw to put the Bonnies up 29-19. In the last three minutes of the half though, the Dukes stormed back to take a 32-31 lead into the break. After a back-and-forth second half, Duquesne senior center Michael Hughes tied the game at 55-55 with 3:29 left.

Then, Jalen Adaway took control. 

“He played really well for us,” said Schmidt, SBU’s head coach, of Adaway. “We wouldn’t have won without him.” 

Adaway finished the game with a double-double, earning 12 points and 10 rebounds along with two blocks coming off the bench. Left out of the starting lineup due to a non-COVID-19 related illness, the junior forward asserted himself with a crucial and-one basket that put the Bonnies up 58-55 after the made foul shot.  

On the next possession, Adaway soared above the Dukes for a put-back flush off of a Kyle Lofton miss, igniting the St. Bonaventure bench and leaving Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot and the Dukes in disbelief. Adaway proceeded to block two shots and sank three foul shots in the last 90 seconds to push the Bonnies to their seventh-consecutive A-10 win.

“We just knew it was crunch time, and I just tried to do what I could to help us come out with the win,” Adaway said. “Whether it was grabbing a couple of rebounds or making those foul shots, I just wanted to win, we all just wanted to win, so I tried to do whatever it took.” 

The heroics of Adaway were key, but the contributions of other Bonnies were essential, as well. Kyle Lofton led the scoring with 17 points, while Welch continued his hot shooting from Wednesday night’s, win going 3-for-5 from three-point range and finishing with 14 points. Jalen Shaw also saw big minutes after starting forward/center Osun Osunniyi found himself in early foul trouble, contributing seven points in 16 minutes.  

“We have an amazing group of guys, and our chemistry is through the roof,” Adaway said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of such a group, you know, with our coaching staff and our program as a whole.” 

Only shooting 39.6% from the field and turning the ball over fifteen times, the Bonnies found an edge on the boards with a 42-35 advantage in rebounds, and shot 18-of-25 from the foul line compared to 12-of-16 from Duquesne.

“Hopefully, our offense gets going, our shooting gets going, but you still win,” Schmidt said. “The staple of any good program is defense and rebounding and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.” 

Tavian Dunn-Martin led the Dukes with 18 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from three, and Michael Hughes added 15 points, going 7-for-11 from the field. Marcus Weathers finished with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, while all other players for Duquesne were held to single-digit scoring. 

With their second loss to the Bonnies, Duquesne now falls to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in conference play. 

Bona’s streak now grows to six straight wins for the Bonnies in A-10 play, now siting at 8-1 overall (best start since 2000-01) and 6-1 in the A-10 (best start since 1982-83). St. Bonaventure’s lead in the A-10 is now a full game ahead of UMass and Davidson, the latter of which the Bonnies will face next Saturday on the road.  

“It wasn’t a pretty game on either end for both teams,” Schmidt said. “But we found a way to win and that shows a lot of character, it shows a lot of competitiveness.” 

PREVIEW: Bonnies prep for rematch vs. Duquesne; seek sixth-straight A-10 win

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — “We’re not satisfied, we’re not comfortable. We can’t stop working.” 

Mark Schmidt has the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team focused on turning the page after an incredible performance on Wednesday night. SBU used a 31-point swing in the second half to calm the havoc presented by the VCU Rams, and beat them to grab sole possession of first place in the A-10.

After beating VCU, the Bonnies were slated for a prime-time showdown with nationally ranked Saint Louis, but for the second time this week, their opponent has changed due to COVID-19. Instead of the Billikens, the Bonnies get a rematch with Duquesne.  

In their first matchup, the Bonnies navigated an ugly first half to pull away from the Dukes in a 62-48 win at the Reilly Center just a week ago. With the rematch arriving sooner than expected, both squads will have a fresh memory of last week’s game.

“We know what they present,” said Schmidt, SBU’s head coach. “Now it’s, ‘Can we defend what they’re gonna do against us.’” 

Duquesne will be coming off its own dramatic comeback win, as the Dukes overcame a 17-point deficit against Rhode Island on Wednesday night. In a season overshadowed by unusual circumstances, Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot has kept the Dukes competitive despite unexpected departures and the lack of having their home gym at the moment. 

“I’ve got all the respect in the world for him,” Schmidt said. “They are competitive guys and (Dambrot) is getting the most out of them and we are expecting a really difficult game.” 

The challenge starts inside for St. Bonaventure. Duquesne senior forward Marcus Weathers remains the main threat down low, putting up 12 points and nine rebounds in his first game against Bona this season. Senior center Michael Hughes led the Dukes in scoring in the fist game with 14 points. 

“They present a lot of problems with their inside game,” Schmidt said. “Weathers and Hughes are horses inside.” 

Senior guard Tavian Dunn-Martin had a quiet outing last week against St. Bonaventure, but exploded for 25 points at home last season against the Bonnies. Dunn-Martin hit seven threes in an 83-80 loss for the Dukes in a game that was played at Robert Morris last February.  

“Every time we play down there, it seems like he has career night,” Schmidt said. 

The Bonnies had a rough shooting night in the previous matchup, including a dismal 2-16 from three, but dominated the Dukes at the foul line by going 20-27 compared to 3-9 from Duquesne.  

“I’m proud of what we’ve done so far,” Schmidt said. “But we’ve got a long way to go.” 

The game, which will be played at La Roche University, will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN+.