Superb second half leads Bona to comeback victory over VCU

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — VCU went into halftime with a 15-point lead. After that, the Rams never looked the same.

After being out-played by the Rams on both ends of the floor in the first half, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team used two big runs in the second half to beat VCU, 70-54, at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night.

Bona opened the second stanza on a 20-3 run that was capped with three-consecutive dunks, two of which were accompanied by a defensive foul. Jalen Adaway drove to the rim and dunked over a VCU defender while drawing a foul before Osun Osunniyi did the same. Osunniyi then got another dunk off of a lob pass, which seemingly gave Bona the entirety of the game’s momentum.

After the Rams battled back midway through the half, SBU ended the game on a 19-3 run that spanned over 11 minutes of game time.

“The game was, ‘Who’s going to own the paint?’ In the first half, they owned the paint,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They kept the ball downhill, they were killing us on the back board, we didn’t do a good job against their press… As a coach, you just challenge the guys, and if you have character guys, guys that are competitors, they’re going to respond.”

Jaren Holmes scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Bona, which improved its play on the glass late in the game after being out-rebounded 28-15 by the Rams in the first half. Bona out-rebounded the Rams 22-14 in the second half, however, and only allowed four offensive rebounds in the second frame after giving up 13 of them in the first.

“The most important minutes (of the second half) were the first five minutes,” Schmidt said. “The first 10 possessions. We couldn’t have played better offensively or defensively in the second half. To hold that team to 14 points and the percentage that they shot, it’s a credit to our guys.”

The Bonnies held the Rams to 14 points on 19% shooting from the field in the second half, while shooting nearly 56% from the field and 50% from three-point range themselves. Bona ended up shooting 42% from the field in the game, while VCU shot just 32%.

“Since I’ve been here as a coach, in my opinion, that’s the best half we’ve played both offensively and defensively,” Schmidt said. “We took care of the ball and ran some stuff that was effective, but in essence it came down to, we started going downhill and we stopped them from going downhill.”

Dominick Welch, who had been held to zero points in SBU’s last game (a win over Duquesne), scored a game-high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range. Kyle Lofton scored 12 points for the Bonnies, while Jalen Adaway scored nine points and Osun Osunniyi scored nine points to go with nine rebounds.

“I felt that we weren’t playing aggressively enough in the first half, but we always emphasize defense in practice, and I think that defense and rebounding played a big role in letting our offense (come back),” Welch said. “We really wanted to stick to getting stops and cutting that lead down before the first media (timeout).”

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, who scored a team-high 16 points for the Rams, was held to 1-of-7 shooting for three points in the second half. Vince Williams Jr. scored 11 points for the Rams, while Levi Stockard III and Hason Ward each added eight points.

This was just VCU’s second lost in Atlantic 10 play, as the Rams fell to 3-2 in the league and 10-4 overall.

“We have competitive guys, and I think they were a little embarrassed by how they played in the first half,” Schmidt said. “And they responded. The first tv timeout was critical for us to get some momentum, and we did that.”

This marked Bona’s fifth-straight A-10 win, as the Bonnies improved to 5-1 in the league and 7-1 overall. SBU’s schedule continues to shuffle, as an upcoming Saturday-night road trip to Saint Louis was canceled and replaced by a trip to La Roche University, where the Bonnies will play Duquesne for the second time in eight days.

SBU won its first matchup over the Dukes, 62-48, last Friday at the RC. Bona’s win over VCU gives it sole possession of first place in the A-10, breaking a tie with UMass, which also went into Wednesday night at 4-1 in conference play.

“This is a very good team that we played tonight, and it just shows the will that we have as a team and the chemistry that we’re building together,” Welch said. “It feels like these wins are really different. A step in the right direction.”

PREVIEW: First-place Bonnies prepare to host “powerhouse” VCU

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By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – After a week that showcased its poise and experience, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has proven itself as a top-level team in the Atlantic 10.  

The Bonnies took care of business against Fordham last Wednesday and handled Duquesne on Friday. Now, tied atop the A-10 with UMass, there are murmurings of a possible tournament bid or a regular season championship for the Bonnies given their position in the standings.

Bona head coach Mark Schmidt knows the idea of any future achievements starts with his team winning its lone home game this week.  

“Home games are most important,” Schmidt said. “If you want to compete for a title, you gotta protect your home court.” 

The Bonnies will look to do just that against VCU on Wednesday. The Bonnies were originally slated for a rematch against Richmond in the Reilly Center on that day, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 fears within the Spiders’ program, leaving SBU to face the Rams instead.  

VCU, coming in at 10-3, flexes one of the stingier defenses in college basketball. VCU is second in the nation in steals per game, averaging 11.5 on the season. Freshman guard Adrian Baldwin Jr and sophomore guard Na’Shon “Bones” Hyland sit at a tie for second in the conference with 2.2 steals per game, and sophomore guard Jimmy Clark III averages 1.9 steals per game.  

“If they steal the ball, live ball turnovers kill you against VCU,” Schmidt said. “So, we got to protect the ball.”  

The Rams rely on their defense to create offense on the other end of the court by speeding the game up and using live ball turnovers to generate fast break opportunities.  

“They do a good job of running and trapping and trying to speed you up,” Schmidt said. “That’s how they play, that gets them going on offense.” 

Offensively, the scoring load is carried by Hyland, who averages 18.1 points per game. Hyland, who has doubled his scoring average from last season, can finish in the paint and poses a lethal stroke from behind the three-point line. 

“You can see that the team has confidence in him,” Schmidt said. “He’s gonna be a handful for the next three years. He’s an exceptional player that seems like he enjoys playing and is getting better.” 

Other players have found their moments to contribute on offense, but junior forward Vince Williams Jr is the only other double-figure scorer for VCU, averaging 10.8 points per game. 

“Williams, I think, is an X-factor. When he plays well, they usually win,” Schmidt said. “He has it all.” 

In their lone matchup last season, the Rams trounced the Bonnies on their home floor 91-63. St. Bonaventure will look to turn around what has been a dominant stretch for the Rams when they face the Bonnies. VCU has only lost to St. Bonaventure twice since joining the A-10 in 2012.

“They got good players,” Schmidt said. “They are one of the powerhouses in our conference.” 

After their matchup against VCU, the Bonnies were set for another big game against No. 25 Saint Louis on Saturday, but the status of that game is in question, as the Billikens announced another positive COVID-19 was found in the program, and they will now need to pause basketball activities once again.

“No matter who you play in the Atlantic 10, it’s an important game,” Schmidt said.  

Wednesday’s game against the Rams should go as planned, however. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off from the Reilly Center, and will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

Bonnies close out Duquesne in primetime

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has played Duquesne more than any other Atlantic 10 opponent in its history.

The teams had met 124 times as of Friday, and the Bonnies’ historical rivalry with the Dukes has been renewed recently, with six of their last seven meetings being decided by six points or less.

Friday night’s contest at the Reilly Center appeared to be headed in the same direction before the Bonnies extended their lead late in the second half and beat the Dukes, 62-48.

SBU was led by junior guard Kyle Lofton, who scored a game-high 28 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field and 12-for-14 from the free-throw line. Jaren Holmes scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Alejandro Vazquez added 11 points off the bench for SBU.

“Shots weren’t falling, but you can’t always depend on shots to fall,” Lofton said. “You can depend on getting inside. You get in the paint; things happen. Being in attack mode early and throughout the whole game usually is a positive.”

The Bonnies took a 27-23 lead into the halftime locker room and didn’t relinquish it in the second half. SBU took the lead for good with 11:36 remaining in the first half, but led by single digits all but once until there was only one minute left in the game.

The Bonnies closed the game on an 11-2 run.

“I thought (Lofton) was tremendous, I thought Osun (Osunniyi) really got his legs back,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We were really active. To hold that team to 48 points, it was a tremendous defensive game. Offensively was a struggle, but thank goodness we had (Lofton), and he hit some big shots.”

Osunniyi pulled down 12 rebounds to go with eight points for Bona. He was matched up with Duquesne forwards Michael Hughes and Marcus Weathers for most of the night, holding each to single-digit rebounds while blocking four shots in the game.

“It was a physical battle,” Schmidt said. “Going into the game, we knew that Hughes and Weathers were two physical inside guys. It was a concern when we played Rhode Island and they got us physically, and we challenged our guys. We got a second test and now we (needed) to pass that test, and I thought we did.”

Bona’s lone A-10 loss came to Rhode Island over two weeks ago.

Hughes finished with 14 points and three rebounds, while Weathers scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Ryan Murphy added eight points off of the bench for the Dukes.

The Bonnies only shot 36% from the field and were 2-for-16 from beyond the three-point line, but held Duquesne to just under 36% shooting itself. Bona benefitted from getting to the free-throw line, from which the team shot 20-for-27, while the Dukes were 3-for-9 from the line.

“Everybody struggled offensively other than (Lofton), so when (he) got it going a bit, you try to run stuff for him,” Schmidt said. “He had that mid-range jumper working. You go to your hot hand, and Kyle was that.”

Many of Vazquez’s minutes came at the expense of Dominick Welch, who sat for most of the first half after picking up his second foul less than five minutes in. Eddie Creal also played four minutes in Welch’s absence.

“It’s going to happen,” Schmidt said of foul trouble for Welch, who finished the game with 0 points and two rebounds. “Guys are going to get in foul trouble, that’s why you need your bench. Those guys aren’t going to play a ton, but when they get their name called, they’re going to be ready.”

This was SBU’s fourth-straight A-10 win, as the team improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the league. Duquesne fell to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

The Bonnies will return to the RC on Wednesday to battle Richmond in a rematch of two of the A-10’s most successful teams so far this season. The Spiders’ lone conference loss came at the hands of a Lofton game-winning shot when they hosted the Bonnies less than two weeks ago.

Lofton scores 1,000th point as Bonnies win at Fordham

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By Ryan Surmay

BRONX, NY — After scoring 14 points on Wednesday, Kyle Lofton became the latest member of the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball 1,000-point club. 

Lofton led the Bonnies to a 68-54 win at Fordham, and Bona head coach Mark Schmidt spoke highly of the junior point guard.

“He’s a really good player, he’s a really good competitor… he’s our leader,” Schmidt said.

Scoring 1,000 points in two years and six games tells you all you need to know about Lofton. He’s the ultimate point guard for SBU, as he shares the ball and defends as regularly as he scores.

This was the Bonnies’ first game back after Jaren Holmes’ 38-point performance vs Saint Joseph’s. The game went back in forth in the first half, with neither team really establishing itself. The teams went into the locker room with the score tied at 37. 

The Rams used balanced scoring, having four of their starters score more than six points in the half. The Bonnies stayed with the hot hand of Holmes, who had 17 first-half points. The Rams were able to keep the game close by making seven three-pointers in the half, while the Bonnies only had three.  

“I thought we defended decently in the first half even though they hit seven [three’s],” Schmidt said. “But I thought our guys from a defensive standpoint did a great job. They hit two in the second half we hit our numbers… we held them to 17 points in the second half.”

The main keys to the win for Bona were defense and rebounding the ball. St. Bonaventure out rebounded Fordham 43 -24, including 15 offensive rebounds, which created second chances for the team to score. 

“The guys, they’re committed they understand in order to beat Fordham you need to defend,” Schmidt said. “They’re one of the better defensive teams in the Atlantic-10. It was like a test for us. I thought our guys did a really good job, especially in the second half.”

In terms of the offense, it was led once again by Holmes as he had 26 points, giving him 64 points over his last two games. 

“It’s come in the offense, he’s not forcing things, he’s hitting open shots,” Schmidt said. “I had no idea he had 20 at halftime by the way he plays.”

The Bonnies were able to hold Fordham to only three points in the final eight minutes of the game, all of which came from the free throw line.  

Jalen Adaway scored 14 points for Bona, while Dominick Welch pulled down 14 rebounds and Osun Osunniyi had seven rebounds and seven assists.

“Our guys are matured, and they understand how to win,” Schmidt said. “They’re not going to be the star of the team offensively every night. They understand the importance of winning games and how to win them. When the offense isn’t going well you got to do something else and they’ve done that.” 

After the win, the Bonnies improve to a 5-1 record while going 3-1 in the A-10. Their next game is against Duquesne at the Reily Center on Friday at 7 p.m., a game that will be broadcasted on ESPN2.  

UPDATE: Holmes named A-10 player of the week; Bonnies to play at Fordham on Wednesday after GW cancelation

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By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Whoever said the core of St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball team was a “Big 3” must’ve forgotten about Jaren Holmes, who on Monday, was named the Atlantic 10’s ‘Player of the Week’.

The junior guard had a dominant performance in the Bonnies’ 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday. 

Holmes shot 14-for-22 from the field for 38 points, along with 10 rebounds and three assists, against the Hawks. Eight of his 22 makes were from beyond the arc. Holmes attempted 12 three-pointers on his own in the game, a statistic made significant when considering that SBU, as a team, has only attempted an average of 18 three-pointers per game this season.  

Beyond the incredible shooting performance from Holmes on Wednesday, it was his ability to shift momentum that likely won him this honor. While the Bonnies started out slowly against the then 0-8 Hawks, only leading by four at halftime, Holmes took it upon himself to take over early in the second half. 

Holmes, on his own, went on a 9-2 run in just over three minutes, single-handedly stretching St. Bonaventure’s eight-point lead to 15.  Holmes was, in a word, unstoppable.

He’s second in the Atlantic 10 and tied for 34th in the country in three-point shooting percentage, hitting over 52% of his shots beyond the arc, and is ninth in the conference in overall shooting percentage.  

“We’re not playing great, but we have some veteran guys,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said on Tuesday. “Guys that really care. It’s a blessing that we have guys that know the system, because we haven’t practiced a ton.”

The Bonnies’ momentum for the week would stop on Wednesday, however, as Friday night brought the postponement of their scheduled game against George Washington, which was supposed to be played Saturday at noon in the Reilly Center. 

Per a statement from George Washington athletics, the Colonials had a positive test within their “Tier One” personnel, forcing the game to be rescheduled. 

Tier One personnel includes all team members who have “frequent close contact” with players, including coaches, medical staff, managers, and student-athletes themselves. No further information has been made available as to when the game will be played, or if it will be played at all. It is also unknown, as of Tuesday, who at GW tested positive. 

“We haven’t had a lot of practice time, especially going five on five, so we just try to get better in all our areas,” Schmidt said. “More chemistry; getting guys more reps. We had an extra day of practice and tried to improve because we aren’t near where we need to be.”

College basketball has had nationwide issues containing the COVID-19 pandemic this season, despite strict protocols put in place prior to the season. The A-10, however, has taken a beating at the hands of the virus. Ten of the league’s 14 schools have had to postpone and/or cancel men’s and/or women’s basketball games so far this season.  

“I don’t want to look at it as we’re the only team that’s going through this,” Schmidt said of the cancelations. “The team that we’re playing tomorrow (Fordham), I think they were quarantined for 46 days. Some people have had it worse, but you’ve got to take it one day at a time and can’t feel sorry for yourself.”

The Week Ahead 

While the virus prevents us from telling exactly what is ahead for this week, the Bonnies are scheduled to play at 1-3 Fordham on Wednesday at 2 p.m., before returning to the Reilly Center to play 3-3 Duquesne on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Bonnies’ game against the Dukes was moved from Saturday to Friday, to be the A-10’s national game that will be broadcasted on ESPN2.

Fordham’s schedule has looked similar to Bona’s this season, as a COVID-19 shutdown in late November derailed the Rams’ non-conference schedule to the point where they were left unable to play any games before A-10 play began. SBU played two conference games this season.

But for how little they’ve played this season, the Rams have been outscored by a collective 53 in the first half of their four games. In stark contrast, the Bonnies have outscored opponents by 30 points in the first half alone.  

“They’re struggling offensively, but that hasn’t affected their defense and hasn’t affected how hard they play,” Schmidt said. “These kids really play. They’re very good defensively. They take a zillion charges. They’re just hard-nosed kids. Blue collar kids that love to compete. They understand who they are and they play awfully hard.”

Chris Austin has averaged over 11 points per game for the Rams this season, while Joel Soriano has averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Rams’ lone win of the season came on Jan. 5 at home against Dayton.

As for Duquesne, which is 2-2 in the conference right now, the Bonnies will have to contend against Marcus Weathers. The senior forward is shooting nearly 50% from the floor and averaging 13.2 points per game for the Dukes this season. He’ll face a St. Bonaventure defense that has held opponents to just 41% shooting. 

Those numbers are in no small part due to being ninth in the nation defending against the three, allowing opponents just under 26% shooting from beyond the arc. The good news for the Bonnies is that the Dukes are only shooting just under 29% from there this season.

“In this league or in any league, on any given day, anybody can win games,” Schmidt said. “We’re going down to Fordham understanding that that’s going to be a very difficult game, and hopefully we can play well enough to win by one. This is not an overlooked game.”

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

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

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

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

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.