Bonnies bounce back, score season-high 86 points in win over La Salle

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After having its seven-game winning streak snapped over the weekend, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team responded exactly the way that head coach Mark Schmidt hoped it would.

On the heels of a Saturday defeat at Saint Louis, the Bonnies (10-2, 8-2 A-10) returned home and ran past La Salle (8-12, 5-8 A-10), 86-73, on Tuesday at the Reilly Center.

Each of Bona’s five starters reached double-digit scoring, including a team-high 20 points by Jalen Adaway.

“Coming off of a loss, we knew we needed to prevail and bring it from the start,” Adaway said. “I felt like that’s what we did from top to bottom.”

The Explorers got off to a quick start in the first half, hitting three of their first four 3-point attempts to build an early nine-point lead.

Then, the midst of a 15-5 Bona run, La Salle head coach Ashley Howard was ejected after receiving a double technical foul. Howard was visibly upset after a play on his team’s offensive end, yelling, “Call a f***ing foul!” at a referee before exiting the court in a profanity-laden tirade.

While Howard’s ejection seemed to provide a boost of energy to the La Salle bench, the Explorers weren’t the same afterward. Kyle Lofton hit all four free throws after the double foul, breaking a 24-24 tie and giving SBU the lead for good.

“Stuff like that gives you momentum,” Schmidt said. “At the same time, you need to maintain that momentum, and I thought we did that. Basketball is all about momentum, and sometimes when you get it it’s hard to give it up or get it back.”

La Salle trailed the entire way after associate head coach Kyle Griffin took over Howard’s duties, and after Bona used a last-second Lofton 3-pointer to take a 10-point lead into halftime, the Explorers never cut the lead below double digits in the second half.

“When something like that happens… that team may come out and play with a lot more fire and want to have his back,” Adaway said. “We were telling each other, they’re going to come out, we need to come out twice as hard and be ready for it, and really try to put them away.”

SBU’s 86 points were the most that it had scored in a game this season, and the Bonnies got there by spreading the scoring around the floor.

Lofton had 18 points while Osun Osunniyi scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Jaren Holmes added another 15 points, while Dominick Welch finished with 10 points.

The Bonnies shot nearly 61% from the field and 64% from 3-point range. Lofton, who had entered Tuesday’s game shooting an uncharacteristic 3-for-34 on the season from distance, was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc against La Salle.

“It felt good,” Lofton said. “I come in here and work every day, so I’m going to just stay confident. I saw one go in, so the next one I’m thinking, ‘Alright, I’m gonna hit this one.’ I’m just taking good shots, and I’m going to continue to do that.”

Kenny Sherif scored a game-high 22 points for the Explorers, while Jhamir Brickus scored 13 points and Christian Ray just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

“We dealt with some adversity,” Schmidt said. “They made some runs, and we answered them. I’m happy with the performance.”

Bona’s win guarantees it sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 for at least a few more days, as it leads second-place VCU (14-4, 7-2 A-10) by a half game entering the Bonnies’ Friday-night matchup against the Rams.

“We’ve got to continue to work and not be satisfied,” Schmidt said. “But we got better today.”

Bona women close out La Salle for first A-10 win

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By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — “Hopefully, this breaks the dam and we’re on to a really good run here.” 

That’s what St. Bonaventure women’s basketball head coach Jesse Fleming had to say following his team’s 65-60 win against La Salle at the Reilly Center on Friday. 

Fleming’s hope is warranted, as his team managed to exercise some of its demons against the Explorers. The Bonnies won their first game since Dec. 16, a home victory against Binghamton. They won their first conference game, finally getting themselves out of the Atlantic 10’s basement. SBU hadn’t beaten La Salle in nearly seven years.

The Bonnies’ veterans continued to contribute in notable ways. Asianae Johnson had 15 points, four rebounds and four assists, leading the Bonnies in scoring and icing the game by knocking down 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch. 

Senior forward Emily Calabrese finished with five rebounds and three assists to go along with four points. 

For the Explorers, junior Kayla Spruill led the way shooting, going 4-for-5 from the field for 16 points while hitting a perfect 6-of-6 shots from the foul line. Sophomore Claire Jacobs made an impact on the glass for La Salle, notching a team-high nine rebounds with 11 points and four assists.  

But it was up-and-comers like Olivia Brown, Kaitlyn Parker, Maddie Dziezgowski, and I’yanna Lops who glued the game together for the Bonnies. All played key roles at different points in the game, particularly in scoring and rebounding, as the Bonnies continued to not rely solely on the veterans to do the heavy lifting. 

Fleming knows it was the team’s balance that made this game different. 

“I thought that everybody who came in really did something positive,” he said after the game. “I love the 19 assists number, really shared the basketball; the shooters came out shot ready, good shots.” 

Right out of the gate, the Bonnies dominated their way to a 22-4 lead, playing fast and taking advantage of some fantastic looks gifted to them by La Salle. Brown, a sophomore, led the first-quarter charge. One of the Bonnies’ more reliable shooters this season, she scored 11 points in the first quarter, aided by three wide-open looks from beyond the arc. 

But even as the Bonnies shot over 60% from the floor in the first half, their defense is what allowed them to build an 18-point lead. Limiting La Salle to just eight points in the first quarter, the Explorers couldn’t find a way to penetrate the Bonnies’ zone. Forcing them into long-range shots, the Bonnies played to La Salle’s weakness as a team, shooting just under 30% from three. 

Fleming spoke about the Bonnies’ defensive stand in the first half. 

“Love the defensive energy,” he said. “[La Salle] played down in Drexel on Wednesday, and then they came up here… we came out and said, if you guys aren’t going to have the energy, we’re going to have twice the energy.”  

The Explorers found some energy of their own in the second half. The Bonnies’ 18-point lead was cut to single digits by a dagger three from Deja King to bookend the first half. But, fresh out of halftime, Brown answered back with a three of her own. She’d finish the game with 14 points and five rebounds. 

Rebounding was also a team effort for SBU on Friday. Six Bonnies had four or more rebounds in the game, as St. Bonaventure outrebounded La Salle, 37-25, with a dominating plus-six advantage in offensive boards. It was a different look for a team that had ‘t dominated the glass this season. 

What kept La Salle in the game was their knack for getting to the free-throw line, hitting 17 of 19 on the day. But as La Salle began to capitalize on some of the Bonnies’ errors, and as they eventually cut their deficit to two points, the Bonnies exercised one of their more evil demons: their inability to close out games. 

This season, the Bonnies have blown a late lead against St. John’s on the heels of a Brown technical foul. They’ve failed to maintain their momentum during comeback efforts against Dayton and Richmond.  

And the Bonnies could have faltered amid a wave of Explorers after an Asianae Johnson turnover midway through the fourth with La Salle threatening to take the lead. Instead, they gathered themselves. They returned to what had worked the entire game, setting up their offense, working inside the paint, and asserting themselves on the glass. 

Resilient, the Bonnies successfully stood their ground on Friday, conquering the demon that has haunted them all season. 

“We could be licking our wounds after a couple tough losses,” Fleming said. “People were ready to step up… and we needed that.” 

Deja Francis, who had 11 points, four rebounds and six assists on Friday, agreed with her coach that this win could be the start of change for her team.

“It feels really good… just to finish this one out,” Francis said said. “We’re really close. It feels really good to just take that next step and get the win.” 

After a Sunday slate against Saint Joseph’s was canceled due to COVID-19 concern within the Hawks’ program, SBU will begin a two-game road trip that begins by visiting Fordham on Jan. 22.

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part one

photo: David Kohl/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season begins on Wednesday, with several Atlantic 10 teams scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the first of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Davidson Wildcats
2019-20 Record: 16-14 
Best Player: Kellan Grady 

For a team known for its precision and consistency, Davidson dealt with many issues last season in terms of injuries and unexpected departures.

This offseason, the Wildcats lost guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson, the 2018-19 A-10 player of the year. Despite a slump early last season, Kellan Grady has shown he has the capability of leading a Wildcat offense that operates on motion and ball movement.

Grady can score the ball at all levels, and his shot is deadly from beyond the arc. Grady will be surrounded by Hyunjung Lee and Michael Jones, who can both knock down three-pointers as well. Luka Brajkovic will shoulder most of the work inside with his skillset inside as a low-post scorer.

Defense will be the issue for Davidson, as it usually is in most seasons, and rough nights on offense could get ugly during A-10 play. However, guarding this offense presents a daunting task for opposing teams.  

Dayton Flyers
2019-20 Record: 29-2
Best Player: Jalen Crutcher

First of all, what a season for the Flyers in 2019-20. They had a legitimate shot to win the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed. Those chances do not come very often for A-10 teams.

With that being said, the Flyers lost some major talent heading into this season. The big loss is Obi Toppin, the Naismith Player of the Year who was selected No. 8 overall in this year’s NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Dayton also lost Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell to graduation, a duo who combined to average just under 20 points a game last year. That’s a total of 40 points per game lost. However, the Flyers return Jalen Crutcher, who is arguably the best player in the league heading into this season. They also bring back two guards in Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatham who each should put up double digits points per game. Lastly, Dayton also loves what they see from 6’11 transfer Jordy Thiamine from Nebraska. He should be a force down low for the Flyers.

All in all, this team returns enough talent and solid newcomers to compete for a top-four spot in the conference. Will they go 18-0 again? Doubtful. However, this team is definitely good enough to win 12 or 14 games in the A-10. 

Duquesne Dukes 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Player: Marcus Weathers 

Since Keith Dambrot took over as head coach, Duquesne has gotten better every season. This upcoming season should be no different, as the Dukes return every starter and seven of their top eight scorers from last year’s team that won 21 games.

They are led by 6-8 forward Marcus Weathers, who averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Something to look out for with the Dukes is their offensive efficiency under Dambrot. Last season, they had the fourth-most efficient offense in the A-10 behind Dayton, Richmond and Davidson. Duquesne only scored less than 60 points in only three games last season, so they’re a team that is not afraid of a shootout.

After being picked fifth in the league’s preseason poll,, it is more than fair to say that the Dukes could sneak into the top four when the regular season ends.

Fordham Rams
2019-20 Record: 9-22 
Best Player: Chuba Ohams 

After yet another season of single-digit wins and another last-place conference finish with two A-10 wins, it’s safe to say the Fordham basketball program has taken another step backwards. This season, Fordham will be faced with filling the void left from the graduation of its starting backcourt of Antwon Portley (10.4 points per game) and Erten Gazi (8.9 points per game).

The Rams will look toward Chuba Ohams, a redshirt junior, to continue his success from last season after a knee injury suffered during warmups in January ended his campaign prematurely. Before going down, he averaged 11 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. While their record may not have shown it, their games last season only had a -3.1 point differential, which gives optimism for Fordham fans coming into this season.

Going into his sixth season with the Rams, head coach Jeff Neubauer’s teams have only gotten progressively worse in conference play, winning eight, seven, four, three and two games per season, respectively. Once again, Fordham was the preseason pick to finish last in the A-10.

George Mason Patriots
2019-20 Record: 17-15 
Best Player: AJ Wilson 

Last season, George Mason constantly adjusted its style of play on the fly to accommodate Justin Kier’s injuries. The inconsistency resulting from this spoiled a historic 11-1 start.

With Kier now gone, the Patriots now turn to redshirt senior AJ Wilson, along with Javon Greene and Jordan Miller, to make some noise in the A-10. Wilson likes to operate from the top of the key, and while he prefers going right, he has the strength to finish around the rim on both sides. Wilson does not hunt a three-point shot off the dribble, preferring to shoot off of a screen or a drive-and-kick.

Last season, the Patriots pressed more often than most teams. This defensive mindset should remain this season, but head coach Dave Paulsen’s emphasis on conservative defensive principles will be noticeable for GM. With a crowded field at the top of the conference, it might be hard for the Patriots to move up much this season, but expect them to play spoiler against conference foes with Wilson as the catalyst.

George Washington Colonials
2019-20 Record: 12-20
Best Player: Jameer Nelson Jr.

This is the second year of the Jamion Christian era, and his mark is already being put on the George Washington program. Christian returns budding young talent in Jameer Nelson Jr., Chase Paar and Jamison Battle, who all played together last season.

Christian also brought in several pieces from the transfer market, notably Sloan Seymour and Brandon Leftwich, who played for him at Siena and Mount St. Mary’s, respectively. George Washington’s offense emphasizes shooting, and the bigs will look to stretch out the floor. Look for Nelson Jr. and the rest of the guards to attack in pick-and-roll action, as the Colonials led the nation in such sets last season and it will likely generate most of their offense this year.

Don’t expect a major jump in the standings, as this team simply is not ready to compete at the top of the A-10. But, with Christian’s emphasis on player development, expect to see the core at George Washington to develop toward a bright future.

La Salle Explorers
2019-20 Record: 15-15
Best Player: David Beaty

Last year, the Explorers finished near the bottom of the pack in the A-10, tied for 10th. They finished the season with a .500 record at 15-15, but struggled in conference play, going 6-12.

To make matters worse, the Explorers lost their best player to the transfer portal in Ed Croswell. Croswell averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 boards for LaSalle last season. Furthermore, the Explorers also lost two senior starters in Isiah Deas and Saul Phiri. The two impact starters that remain are senior David Beaty and Scott Spencer, who combined to average about 20 points per game last season.

The Explorers were picked to finish 13th in the preseason poll, so it could be a rocky year in Philly for coach Ashley Howard and his team.

Lofton’s game-winning jumper propels Bonnies over La Salle

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By Jeff Uveino

Kyle Lofton did it again. 

The St. Bonaventure guard hit a go-ahead jumper with three seconds remaining and the Bonnies defeated the La Salle Explorers Wednesday night, 62-60. 

Lofton, a freshman, got the ball to start a Bonnies possession with 10.7 seconds left and the score tied. He dribbled to his right, drove to his left and pulled up from the free throw line to send the Reilly Center crowd into a frenzy. 

“It was on me to take the last shot,” said Lofton. “Coach trusts me and gives me room to make errors, so that makes me more comfortable. I was confident and I hit it.” 

Lofton finished the game with 18 points. 

Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said he has been impressed with Lofton’s shot-making ability all season and that the freshman plays beyond his years. 

“I trust him, he plays 40 minutes a game,” said Schmidt. “He hits big shots and he doesn’t play like a freshman. Out of the timeout, I can put the ball in his hands and know that, for the most part, he’s going to make the right play.” 

The game was close the whole way, with SBU leading by four points at halftime. The Explorers came out of the gates strong in the second half, but an and-one dunk from SBU forward Osun Osunniyi followed by a technical on LaSalle gave the Bonnies momentum. They proceeded to go on a 13-3 run. 

The Bonnies led by as many as 11 points in the second half (50-41), but La Salle’s shooting got them back into the game late. 

The Explorers hit ten three-pointers on the night, as opposed to just three from the Bonnies. 

La Salle appeared as if it would get the last possession of the game, but guard Isiah Deas slipped on a drive and turned the ball over, giving Lofton his chance. 

Schmidt talked about SBU’s defensive performance and its struggles that kept La Salle in the game. 

“I always say, if you defend, rebound, take care of the ball and make your foul shots, you’ll do well,” he said. “We only did two of those things tonight. In the last couple games, we took care of the ball and made our free throws, and that’s why we won by a larger margin. We didn’t do those things tonight, which kept it close.” 

Courtney Stockard scored 16 points and dished out seven assists for the Bonnies. Osunniyi had another big night on the glass with 13 rebounds, nine points and five blocks. 

“Defense has always been the main focus of my game,” said Osunniyi. “We feed off the crowd and want to get them in the game early, so if I can block some shots it gets them involved and helps my teammates on the offensive end.”  

La Salle was led by Pookie Powell, who scored 20 points and knocked down four three-pointers. Deas added 16 points. 

Explorers guard Saul Phiri scored 10 points and hit a big three with a minute left to tie the game at 60 before the Lofton magic. 

St. Bonaventure improved to 12-14 overall and 8-5 in the Atlantic 10, and La Salle fell to 8-17 overall and 6-7 in the A10. 

The Bonnies have now won three games in a row and six of their last eight. 

“It wasn’t a masterpiece offensively, but we gutted it out,” said Schmidt. “It was a blue-collar win.”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies make statement in rout of La Salle

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After last Saturday’s loss at George Washington, Denzel Gregg took to Twitter to express his frustration about his foul-out.

“Man I shoulda played football smh,” Gregg wrote.

If Wednesday night’s 83-65 Bonaventure victory over La Salle had been a football game, it would’ve been like if the Atlanta Falcons hadn’t squandered their 25-point lead over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. On this night, Bona only gave up a metaphorical touchdown in garbage time.

Gregg scored 18 of his career-high 28 points in the first half, a half SBU (16-9, 8-5) took a lead just three minutes into and would never surrender. The 6-foot-7 Syracuse, N.Y. native was whistled for just one foul on the evening.

After La Salle (13-11, 7-6) cut Bona’s lead to one (19-18) about eight minutes in, coach Mark Schmidt’s team outscored the Explorers 64-47 the rest of the way. As often happens in a blowout, Bonaventure took its feet off the gas at the end and La Salle went on an 11-0 run to close the game, but the damage had been done.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies make statement in rout of La Salle”

Men’s basketball: To stay in top four race, Bonnies need win against La Salle

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By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Jaylen Adams clearly understood the importance of Wednesday night’s meeting with La Salle at the Reilly Center.

Adams termed the game as a “must-win,” and it’s hard to argue with him. The Bonnies are currently tied with the Explorers at 7-5 in the Atlantic 10. The winner is tied with at least George Mason, which won over Richmond Tuesday night, for fifth in the standings. The loser will be a full two games behind fourth place if Rhode Island takes care of business at home against Fordham, with just five games left.

Bona doesn’t hold any tiebreakers against the current top four of VCU, Dayton, Richmond and Rhode Island, so there’s a very small window for slip-ups if it hopes to earn a double-bye and Friday start in the A-10 Tournament in Pittsburgh. It holds head-to-head tiebreakers over six of the other nine teams, so beating a La Salle team it only plays once in the regular season would be a lucky seventh.

“I feel like you have to approach every game like it’s the most important game,” Adams said. “Being that this is a home game and so far this season we’ve struggled at home, I think this is a big one.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: To stay in top four race, Bonnies need win against La Salle”

Men’s basketball: Bubble burst? Bonnies suffer stunning loss to La Salle

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By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

PHILADELPHIA- With 55 seconds on the clock and his La Salle team holding on to a two-point lead on Wednesday night, guard Jordan Price received a screen, drove to the hoop and put up a shot over Bona center Jordan Tyson.

The basket was made and served as the dagger, as the Bonnies ended up falling 71-64 at Tom Gola Arena. Any hope for an at-large bid was possibly dashed in Philly, against a team that came in with a 1-11 Atlantic 10 record.

“I’m very upset,” senior guard Marcus Posley said dejectedly. “We were supposed to win this game, but didn’t take care of business.”

Posley scored 21 points, 15 of them coming in the second half, to lead all scorers. Dion Wright added 16, while Jaylen Adams chipped in 12. Bona did not shoot well, however, with a 37 percent clip from the field and 7-of-19 mark from three-point range.

Unlike their opponents, the Explorers were comfortable shooting the basketball, making 46.8 percent of their shots. 11 of their 22 field goals were threes, including seven in the first 12 minutes of the contest.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bubble burst? Bonnies suffer stunning loss to La Salle”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies travel back to Philly for meeting with La Salle

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By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team has been on upset alert against Saint Louis and at Fordham in recent weeks, and survived. It will try to make the outcome less interesting when it faces La Salle on Wednesday at 7, its second game in Philadelphia in the last three weeks.

The Explorers have been reduced to a spoiler role this season, sitting in the cellar of the Atlantic 10 with a 1-11 conference record. They are two games behind the three three-win teams and just lost by 26 to a St. Joe’s team that Bona handled. Incredibly, Dr. John Giannini’s club’s one league win was a 61-57 victory over league-leading Dayton, proving that you just don’t know with the A-10.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies travel back to Philly for meeting with La Salle”