MBB: Recapping VCU’s, Bona’s path to A-10 final

photo courtesy of Atlantic 10 conference

By Jeff Uveino & Ben Malakoff

RICHMOND, VA — For the first time since 2013, the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball championship game will feature the tournament’s top two seeds.

The finalists aren’t unfamiliar with each other, either, as No. 1 St. Bonaventure and No. 2 VCU split a pair of regular-season matchups. In each game, the home team came away victorious.

Now, the rubber match will decide which side receives the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

For VCU, a win would improve upon its 1-4 record in A-10 championship games since joining the league after the 2011-12 season.

After going 10-4 in the conference schedule and almost a week off, No. 2 VCU faced Dayton at the Siegel Center, the team’s home court. Prior to the quarterfinal matchup, sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland was cleared from his foot injury and put back into the starting lineup after missing two games.

The A-10 player of the year posted 30 points and 10 rebounds. The Rams scored 38 points in the paint compared to Dayton’s 22 and never trailed throughout the game, winning 73-68.

In the semifinals, VCU faced No. 3 Davidson, the team the Rams fell to in the last game of the season. On average, both teams allowed opponents to score less than 65 points per game in the regular season.

In the first half, the strong defense continued from both sides. VCU shot 31% to Davidsons 17%.

In the second half, the Rams found their stride when redshirt-senior forward Corey Douglas scored six-straight points. Freshman guard Jamir Watkins added on 10 points including two crucial threes, helping VCU shoot 65% in the half.

Hyland led VCU with 12 points as the Rams beat the Wildcats, 64-52, and reached the championship game for the first time since 2017.

“I’m just really proud of our guys,” VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a team’s approach, development and how they move forward throughout the year in all this craziness and it’s been fun coaching them. I just think we kept improving and we’ve been about the right stuff.”

St. Bonaventure’s path to its second A-10 title game in three years went through two familiar opponents, as the Bonnies bested No. 9 Duquesne in the quarterfinals before bullying No. 4 Saint Louis in the semis.

Bona had beat Duquesne twice already during the regular season before its 75-59 victory at VCU’s Siegel Center. The Bonnies are now 8-1 against the Dukes since the 2017-18 season.

A day later, Bona snapped a three-game losing streak to SLU by blowing out the Billikens, 71-53.

Osun Osunniyi anchored Bona’s defense, which allows an A-10 best 60.2 points per game, with seven blocks against Saint Louis. The junior forward/center was named A-10 defensive player of the year on Wednesday.

The Bonnies and Rams will tip-off at 1 p.m. on Sunday and the game will be broadcasted nationally on CBS.

“We’ve accomplished one goal, but that second goal is still out there,” Schmidt said. “Our approach is to be the best we can be from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. “

Schmidt, Osunniyi among Bona all-conference honorees

photo by Megan Lee/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The team had already won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and advanced to the conference’s tournament final.

Now, after individual all-conference awards were announced on Wednesday, it’s no surprise that the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team received numerous honors.

Bona head coach Mark Schmidt was named A-10 coach of the year for the second time in his career (2016) after leading the team to a 13-4 regular-season record and 11-4 A-10 mark.

“Believe me, it’s not my award, it’s our program’s award,” Schmidt said. “My assistant coaches do an unbelievable job. It’s special for our program, and I’m humbled to be selected by my peers to be the coach of the year, but there are a lot of people that are involved. It’s not just a one-man show, as everybody knows.”

Bona junior forward/center Osun Osunniyi was named A-10 defensive player of the year, the first time in program history that a Bonnie has received that recognition.

“Even if I didn’t win the award, I know I have my teammates’ respect of being a great defender,” Osunniyi said. “I’m not really big on personal accolades or achievements… I’m focused on Sunday.”

Osunniyi leads the A-10 with 2.8 blocks per game, totaling 54 on the season. Schmidt complimented Osunniyi’s elevated confidence this season, and noted associate head coach Steve Curran’s efforts to work with him in the post.

“His defense has always been ahead of his offense, much more in his freshman and sophomore years,” Schmidt said. He’s much more aggressive, confident, and his footwork is getting better.”

Bona got three all-conference nods, as junior guard Kyle Lofton was named first-team all-league for the second time in his career. This is the second-straight year that Lofton, who averages 14.2 points and 5.5 assists per game, received first-team honors.

Osunniyi and junior guard Jaren Holmes were each named second-team all-league, while Osunniyi’s inclusion on the A-10’s all-defensive team marks the third time in as many years that he has received that honor.

Holmes, who was also named to the A-10’s all-academic team, averages 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Osunniyi has been no slouch on offense, either, averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

“It’s just a great feeling knowing what we’ve accomplished so far, but also knowing that the job’s not finished yet,” said Holmes, whose Bonnies will play VCU on Sunday for the A-10 championship. “We have a lot more to accomplish as a group and as a family.”

COLUMN: Bona, VCU’s spots in NCAA field secured before A-10 title game

photo by Megan Lee/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

DAYTON, OH — Win, and you’re in.

That’s the premise of the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament each year.

Regardless of its regular-season performance beforehand, a conference tournament championship secures a team’s spot in the NCAA tournament field. While that remains true for this year’s A-10 championship game, the stakes of the game are different than in recent years.

Both finalists have done enough to deserve a spot in the 68-team NCAA bracket. For No. 1 St. Bonaventure and No. 2 VCU, Sunday’s title game at University of Dayton Arena likely won’t determine whether each side gets to play in the NCAA tournament.

Instead, this year’s final will be for bragging rights, for NCAA seeding, and, for SBU, the chance to make history as the second team in program history to be crowned A-10 champions.

When the Bonnies arrived in Richmond last week for their first two A-10 tournament games, their postseason prospectus looked different than it did after SBU posted back-to-back convincing wins over No. 9 Duquesne and No. 4 Saint Louis in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

Now, as the A-10 regular-season champion that has advanced to the conference’s championship game, it would take an 1800s-style Wild West robbery by the NCAA selection committee to leave the Bonnies out of the tournament.

As of Monday, the NCAA’s “NET” ranking, the largely mysterious, overarching ranking that the committee prioritizes, ranks Bona 27th in the country, and VCU 35th. Ken Pomeroy, famous for his “KenPom” rankings, also has the Bonnies at 27th, while VCU checks in at 43rd.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, one of the nation’s most popular “bracketologists,” predicts the Bonnies to be a ninth-seed in the tournament, while listing the Rams as a No. 11 seed. Lunardi said on Sunday that he anticipates Bona will be in the NCAA field whether it wins the A-10 title game or not.

So, looking at the situation realistically, both A-10 finalists will be playing in the NCAA tournament whether they’re crowned league champions or not. This differs from SBU’s last trip to the A-10 final, when it needed to win the 2019 game to be included in the NCAA bracket.

The Bonnies lost that game, ending their season at the Barclays Center as abruptly as they had gotten there. The year before, Davidson upset SBU in the A-10 semifinals before upsetting top-seeded Rhode Island a day later to win the tournament. If the Wildcats had not done so, they would have been left out.

This is the first time since 2013 that the tournament’s top two seeds will play in its final. Bona’s only A-10 championship came the year before that, when the Andrew Nicholson-led Bonnies beat Xavier in the final to clinch an NCAA tournament spot that they wouldn’t have received without winning the tournament.

This year, that’s not the case. SBU has built a sufficient tournament resume over the last three months, compiling a 15-4 record while finishing 11-4 in the A-10 during the regular season. VCU’s situation is similar, as the Rams are 19-6 overall with a 10-4 A-10 record.

This year, it’s about pride and the chance to become a champion. For three Bona starters, it’s the chance to avenge 2019’s A-10 final loss.

The 2021 A-10 champion will receive the immediate satisfaction of knowing that it has reserved the league’s coveted automatic NCAA bid. The runner-up, barring an inexplicable snub, will hear its name called just hours later during the NCAA selection show.

MBB: Osunniyi, Adaway frustrate Saint Louis; Bonnies punch ticket back to A-10 final

photo courtesy of Atlantic 10 conference

By Jeff Uveino

RICHMOND, VA— Mark Schmidt has admitted that his team’s offensive efficiency comes and goes. Schmidt’s defense, however, continues to be the staple that wins games for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team.

The No. 1 Bonnies (15-4), the Atlantic 10’s top-ranked defensive team, frustrated No. 4 Saint Louis (14-6) on the defensive end of the floor on their way to beating the Billikens, 71-53, in an A-10 tournament semifinal at the Siegel Center on Saturday.

Osun Osunniyi made his presence felt in the post from the game’s start.

The junior center tallied eight points, five rebounds and seven blocks while matching the signature physicality that Saint Louis brings in the paint. Osunniyi’s presence under the basket could be felt around the arena, as he repeatedly rejected Billiken shots in a first half that saw six of his blocks.

“I thought that (Osunniyi) was terrific,” said Schmidt, SBU’s 14th-year head coach. “He was the difference defensively. He was the eraser. He was the rim protector, and he did so much for us defensively.”

The Bonnies, which allow a league-best 60.1 points per game, held the Billikens to 37% shooting from the field and 29% from 3-point range. Holding an opponent to under 40% shooting, as Schmidt has said periodically, is a goal of his team each game.

“From a defensive standpoint, we couldn’t have played better,” Schmidt said. “Saint Louis is a very physical team and they dominated us in St. Louis earlier in the year. I thought that the key to the game was that we needed to control the paint.”

Bona avenged a regular-season loss to the Billikens that came exactly one month before Saturday’s victory. In that game, SLU out-scored Bona 20-18 in the paint, while SBU built a 34-20 advantage in that category on Saturday.

“We didn’t play on our heels. I thought that in game one, they knocked us back and we played on our heels,” Schmidt said. “You need to play downhill against Saint Louis, against those physical, athletic bodies. I thought we did a good job of playing downhill.”

While Osunniyi anchored Bona’s defensive unit, Jalen Adaway kept SBU’s offense rolling in a second half that Bona led for its entirety. Adaway scored a game-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, while also pulling down seven rebounds.

Adaway said that SBU’s quick start, including the 11-2 lead that it assembled to start the game, was key.

“We’ve been harping on things like that the whole year, just coming out energetic from the jump,” Adaway said. “Tonight especially, we just emphasized coming out from the jump and getting on top, playing confident and playing our game.”

Schmidt praised Adaway’s effort on both ends of the floor, saying that he played “extremely well.”

“He’s not the biggest guy, but I thought he defended the block really well,” Schmidt said. “He scored for us and moved the ball both ways.”

The Bonnies used bench scoring to jump on the Billikens early. Sophomore guard AJ Vasquez came on to replace Adaway in the game’s first minute while Adaway was treated for a bloody nose.

Vasquez gave the Bonnies an immediate boost by hitting two 3-pointers. Dominick Welch, who scored a game-high 18 points in SBU’s quarterfinal win over Duquesne on Friday, hit a triple of his own shortly after. The Bonnies navigated the rest of the half without the junior guard, however, after he picked up his second foul.

Bona took a 33-25 lead into halftime before dominating a second half in which they shot 52% from the field. SBU entered the game as two-point underdogs, but led by 22 points at the under-eight media timeout. By that point, a Saint Louis comeback was far from in the works.

“We really emphasize patience because the defense is going to lead the offense,” Adaway said. “We have so many talented players offensively that it’s going to come. Just locking in on defense really opens things up and makes it a lot easier for us.”

Jaren Holmes finished with 15 points for the Bonnies, nine of which came in the second half. The junior guard also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Kyle Lofton earned his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Welch scored nine points to round out the SBU starting five.

Jordan Goodwin scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Saint Louis, while Javonte Perkins scored 10 points.

SBU now advances to its fifth A-10 tournament championship in program history, a game in which the Bonnies are 1-3. Their lone A-10 championship came over Xavier in the 2012 tournament, while their most recent trip to the final was 2019’s loss to Saint Louis.

Bona will have eight off-days before the final, which will be held at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio on March 14. SBU will play No. 2 VCU, with which it split two regular-season games.

“We’ve won playing half-court defense and rebounding the ball,” Schmidt said. “And today, we did well at both ends.”

Osunniyi’s seven blocks gave him 47 on the season, a league-best average of 2.61 per game.

“He’s a special player, especially a defensive player, and there isn’t anybody better,” Schmidt said.

Adaway agreed with his head coach.

“Defensive player of the year,” he said of Osunniyi.”He has to be.”

PREVIEW: Bona faces Saint Louis with A-10 final on the line

photo courtesy of Atlantic 10 conference

By Jeff Uveino

RICHMOND, VA — They beat St. Bonaventure in the 2019 Atlantic 10 championship game. They beat them by 23 points in Bona’s 2019-20 season finale. They beat them exactly one month ago.

Now, the Saint Louis men’s basketball team stands in the Bonnies’ path to the 2021 A-10 championship game.

After beating No. 9 Duquesne in Friday’s quarterfinals, No. 1 St. Bonaventure will play No. 4 Saint Louis at the Siegel Center on Saturday with a trip to next week’s A-10 final on the line.

The Billikens beat No. 5 Massachusetts, 86-72, in Friday’s quarterfinals, and a familiar face to Bona fans led the way for Saint Louis. Senior guard Javonte Perkins, who scored a game-high 21 points in SLU’s 70-59 defeat of the Bonnies on Feb. 6, scored a team-high 16 points on Friday.

Saint Louis’ senior class has developed as fierce a rivalry with SBU as any other A-10 team in its four seasons, as the Bonnies and Billikens have split six contests since 2017-18. The Bonnies took the first three games, two of which were won by a Jaylen Adams-led Bona team in 2018. However, since SBU beat the Billikens at the Reilly Center in 2018-19’s regular-season finale, Saint Louis has taken three straight.

If there’s one thing that Bona head coach Mark Schmidt’s team has done since its core of now-juniors joined the team prior to the 2018-19 season, however, it’s mature.

When Kyle Lofton, Dominick Welch and Osun Osunniyi started the 2019 A-10 championship game, all three were freshmen. While Schmidt said after Friday’s win that his players didn’t think about past games such as that defeat, he’s been consistently adamant about his team’s experience level this season.

“I’ve been lucky to have these experienced guys that know how to win,” said Schmidt, reiterating a point he’s made about his team since the preseason’s first press conference.

Lofton, Welch and Osunniyi have combined to make 210 starts for the Bonnies in just under three years.

The only matchup between the two defensive-minded teams this season was at Chaifitz Arena in Saint Louis, where the Billikens held the Bonnies to 36% shooting from the field while shooting it at 43% themselves. Bona junior guard Kyle Lofton scored a team-high 17 points in that game, while junior guard Jaren Holmes scored 12 points and junior forward Jalen Adaway tallied 10 points.

SBU is the A-10’s top defensive team, allowing an average of 60.5 points per game, while Saint Louis checks in at third in the league, giving up 64.7 points per game.

Saturday could be the last time that Bona battles SLU’s current senior class. Hasahn French, Javonte Perkins and Jordan Goodwin have each become familiar names to the SBU fans that have watched them beat their Bonnies three times in a row.

Now, Schmidt’s core of juniors gets a chance to avenge its recent losses to the Billikens. And, if they do, University of Dayton Arena and the A-10 championship game await them on March 14.

MBB: Osunniyi leads Bona offense from inside out

photo by Megan Lee/The Commonwealth Times

By Anthony Goss

RICHMOND, VA — When the college basketball season reaches its peak in March, the stars of a team must shine so it may advance. St. Bonaventure center Osun Osunniyi certainly shined bright in the team’s 75-59 Atlantic 10 quarterfinal victory over Duquesne on Friday.  

Lately, the Bonnies have been hot from the perimeter, and their shooting beyond the arc has placed them as the top seed in the A-10 tournament. As a result, a lot of attention has been diverted to this development and the play of the guards during this stretch. However, Osunniyi has remained a constant presence inside the paint.

Friday was a reminder of the importance of his role on Bona’s team.  

Osunniyi posted a stat line of 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, but his best work came on the defensive end. 

“I thought ‘(Osunniyi) was terrific offensively, but more importantly defensively blocking shots,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said.  

Osunniyi finished with three blocks to lead a defense which held the Dukes to 34% shooting from the field.  

Offensively, the numbers by his name in the box score show how well number 21 in white played, but the way the big man scored explained why the Bonnies were so effective in their first game of the tournament.  

Osunniyi had several putback finishes and alley-oop dunks. Duquesne had no answer for Osunniyi on the offensive glass. Each time Osun slammed the ball in, he deflated the Dukes and boosted the Bonnies. Dominating the paint this way provided the momentum Bona needed to stay in control.  

“I pride myself on defense, so if my defense is going, whenever I get a put back dunk it just energizes everybody,” Osunniyi said. 

Osunniyi’s six assists also demonstrated his ability to facilitate from his position. When St. Bonaventure runs through Osunniyi, less responsibility falls on the back court to continuously generate the looks for Bona.  

“You wanna go inside early cause if I’m being a presence inside, it kind of shrinks the defense,” Osunniyi said. “It’s easier for my teammates to make shots when the ball is going inside outside.” 

The Bonnies will enjoy this victory, as it was necessary in keeping their postseason hopes alive. But, bigger challenges, figuratively and literally speaking, wait ahead in Saturday’s semifinal contest with Saint Louis.  

After today’s game though, Osunniyi appears locked in and will do his part in securing another Bona win this weekend. 

“Whatever it takes to get the team going,” Osunniyi said. “Whatever it takes to get a win.” 

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).”

PREVIEW: Bonnies head to Richmond as A-10’s top seed for first time

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

RICHMOND, VA — Each of the last three Atlantic 10 tournaments have presented adversity for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team. This year’s tournament will be no different.

Three years ago, the Bonnies entered the tournament on a 13-game winning streak, only to be bounced in the semifinals and left at the mercy of a selection committee in hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Two years ago, the A-10’s top three seeds were defeated before the tournament’s final, leaving No. 4 SBU to play No. 6 Saint Louis in the championship game. As many Bona fans remember, it didn’t work out.

Then, last season, the Bonnies traveled to Barclays Center but didn’t get a chance to play before COVID-19 concerns canceled the tournament before its first Thursday game.

This year, St. Bonaventure will begin the A-10 tournament in a place it never has before: first.

After winning the A-10 regular-season championship for the first time in program history, SBU enters the 2021 tournament as its top seed. Despite the unprecedented circumstance head coach Mark Schmidt’s team faces, he said that SBU has prepared for the tournament no differently than in years past.

“Everybody is 0-0,” Schmidt said. “Everybody is trying to win a game and move on, and that’s our mentality. We don’t look at it as, ‘We’re the No. 1 seed, we’ve got all this pressure.’ We understand, and we’re proud to win the conference. It was a great accomplishment for our program. But we all start at 0-0.”

Three SBU starters will be playing in their second A-10 tournament, as juniors Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi and Dominick Welch each started the A-10 championship game two years ago. That experience, Schmidt said, continues to serve his team well.

“We have experienced guys that understand what it takes to be successful,” Schmidt said. “We’re not always successful; we just lost our last game against Dayton. But it’s not because we weren’t prepared.”

Because they’re a top-four seed in the tournament, the Bonnies will receive a double-bye into its quarterfinals, as they have in two of the last three years. SBU awaits the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup between No. 8 Richmond and No. 9 Duquesne.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re going to play,” Schmidt said. “They’re all going to be difficult. Every team is good, and if you don’t play your “A” game in this league, you’re going to lose. We have all the respect in the world for Richmond and Duquesne.”

Bona already owns wins over the Spiders and Dukes this season, the former of which came on a Lofton buzzer-beater at Richmond in early January that propelled SBU to a 69-66 win.

“(Richmond head coach Chris) Mooney has been in the league longer than I have,” Schmidt said. “They run the same stuff; they run it really well. (Grant) Golden is one of, if not the, best big man in the league. Everything goes through him. They’ve got great guards.”

Golden, a graduate forward, has averaged 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this season. Blake Francis, a graduate guard, leads the Spiders in scoring with 16.1 points per game.

Duquesne has been one of Bona’s most familiar A-10 opponents as of late, as SBU is 7-1 against the Dukes since 2017. Two of those victories came eight days apart this season, as Bona beat Duquesne at home, 62-48, before besting the Dukes in Pittsburgh, 65-61.

“Duquesne is a power team,” Schmidt said. “Everything goes into the post. They’ve got guys that can shoot from the perimeter, and the better they shoot from the perimeter, the more effective they are.”

Senior forward Marcus Weathers averages a team-high 16 points for the Dukes, but has only scored 22 total points in DU’s two meetings with the Bonnies this season.

“We don’t know who we’re going to play, so we work on concepts,” Schmidt said. “For the most part, you need to take care of yourself. If you do that, you’re going to have a chance.”

As he has done before, Schmidt talked about his team splitting its season into three parts: non-conference play, conference play and the conference tournament.

Now, in the third trimester of the season, the Bonnies hope to turn their A-10 regular-season championship into an NCAA tournament berth.

Richmond and Duquesne’s quarterfinal contest will tip-off at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Bona awaits the winner at the same start time on Friday in a game that will be played at VCU’s Siegel Center and broadcasted on NBC Sports Network.

“Everybody has to win two games this weekend to move on to next weekend, and it’s coaches talk, but we just try to take it one game at a time,” Schmidt said. “We try to emphasize, we’ve got to rebound, defend and take care of the basketball. If we do those three things, we’ll be in good shape.”