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+.  

Bonnies close out Duquesne in primetime

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

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.

PREVIEW: Bona hosts Duquesne in nationally televised Friday night matchup

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

ST BONAVENTURE, NY — The St Bonaventure men’s basketball team takes on the Duquesne Dukes in a game that will be nationally televised on Friday from SBU. 

The game will be played in the Reilly Center at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.  The Bonnies are coming off a road win against the Fordham Rams on Wednesday, winning the contest by 14 points. The Bonnies were led by Jaren Holmes and Jalen Adaway in that game, combining for 40 of Bona’s 68 points. The game was tied headed into halftime, but the Bonnies came alive late and extended their lead beyond 10 points. 

The story of the season so far is Holmes. 

He has been on fire offensively for the Bonnies, averaging 27 points per game over his last three games.  He is shooting 65% from three-point range over his last three games, and is 13th nationally in three-point percentage.  The only loss of the season for the Bonnies came against Rhode Island, where Holmes was dealing with back spasms and had to sit out of most of the game. 

Not only is Holmes playing great, but Adaway has also been a key addition to this year’s starting lineup.  He is shooting 73% from the field, which leads the Atlantic 10, and has scored in double figures two games in a row. 

Adaway’s quick reflexes and leaping ability allow teammates to throw alley-oops to him from the high post when teams play zone defense.

Duquesne is 3-4 on the season, losing to George Washington, Davidson, Dayton and Little Rock.  

The Dukes’ top two guards and starters, Maceo Austin and Sincere Carry, stepped away from the team this past week.  However, Bona head coach Coach Mark Schmidt isn’t taking this game lightly and was asked about if the departure of those two players changes his approach to the game. 

“It doesn’t change, and we better play our A game if we’re going to win,” Schmidt said. “(Michael) Hughes and (Marcus) Weathers are loads inside and are really good players, and (Tavian) Dunn-Martin is tough.  We couldn’t guard him down in Pittsburgh last year.  They are a very physical team, very similar to Rhode Island.”

Dunn-Martin scored a game-high 25 points and shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc in Duquesne’s 83-80 loss to Bona last season in a game that was played at Robert Morris. The Dukes got their revenge in the Reilly Center less than three weeks later, however, by beating SBU in overtime, 81-77. Osun Osunniyi had 23 points and 13 rebounds in that game.

The Bonnies have played the Dukes 124 times, and in the last 10 meetings, the Bonnies are 8-2. However, in those matchups, the Bonnies have only won by six points or fewer or fewer in seven of the 10 games.  Duquesne is coming off a loss at Dayton on Tuesday.   

Duquesne gets revenge, beats Bonnies in overtime

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Two and a half weeks ago, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team outlasted Duquesne on the road.

On Wednesday night at the Reilly Center, the Dukes returned the favor.

Duquesne survived a late-game Bona comeback before forcing overtime and beating the Bonnies, 81-77.

Sincere Carry found himself at the free throw line in multiple game-changing scenarios for the Dukes, including when he hit two free throws to force overtime.

Then, with six seconds left in the extra stanza and Duquesne leading by two, the sophomore guard hit two more free throws to end Bona’s hopes of last-minute magic.

Carry finished with 18 points, including four in the overtime period.

“I thought Duquesne got off to a better start and had more energy than us in the first half, but our guys really responded coming out of halftime,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We took the lead and then it was back and forth, but we had our opportunities.”

Michael Hughes, who was matched up with Bona center Osun Osunniyi for much of the game, also had 18 points.

“I thought Hughes hurt us at the end of the game,” Schmidt said. “He had two or three jump hooks. He didn’t have his best game, but he’s a great player.”

Hughes had four points in the final two minutes of regulation, as well as a big bucket with less than two minutes left in overtime.

“(Hughes) knows how to play in the post and he has good moves,” Osunniyi said. “I gave him too much position inside and he got some easy buckets later in the game, which hurt us a lot.”

Osunniyi had 23 points and 13 rebounds of his own, shooting 10-for-15 from the field.

“They out-toughed us in the first half, and we tried to play harder in the second half,” Osunniyi said. “When you play a good team like that, you can’t have mental lapses.”

Neither team helped itself offensively, as the Bonnies and Dukes combined to shoot 27 percent from 3-point range and 60 percent from the free throw line. Each team forced 16 turnovers.

“They made one more play than we did,” Schmidt said. “We had a great game against them (on the road) and we had another great one against them tonight, but we came out on the short end this time.”

Jaren English had 15 points for the Bonnies, while Kyle Lofton scored 14 points.

English was forced into Lofton’s usual point guard position late in regulation when Lofton went down with an apparent ankle injury, but the sophomore was able to come back into the game after a minimal stint on the bench.

Dominick Welch picked up his sixth double-double of the season, as he scored 10 points to go along with 14 rebounds.

Lamar Norman Jr. put up 14 points for the Dukes, while Tavian Dunn-Martin, who lit up Bona in the teams’ first matchup, finished with nine points.

“You have to pick your poison with them,” Schmidt said. “Do you double team Hughes and then give up open three’s, or guard him straight up?”

The win was monumental for Duquesne’s Atlantic 10 tournament seeding hopes, as the Dukes moved to 9-6 in the league and 19-8 overall, good enough for a share of fifth place.

SBU fell to 10-5 in the A10 and 18-10 overall. The Bonnies now sit in fourth place in the A10, after Richmond defeated George Washington on Wednesday night to move to 11-3.

Up next for Bona is a Saturday trip to La Salle, where tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

“We have competitive guys in our locker room and they’re upset that we lost,” Schmidt said. “We’ll come back in 24 hours and get ready for La Salle. That’s always been the mentality.”