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: 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.   

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.  

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.”

Lofton’s game-winner pushes Bona past Richmond for first A-10 win

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By Nic Gelyon

RICHMOND, VA — “You want the ball in his hands at the end of the game to make a play.” 

That’s St. Bonaventure men’s basketball head coach Mark Schmidt speaking about junior guard Kyle Lofton. Lofton’s step-back three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining in the game iced a 69-66 win for the Bonnies at preseason Atlantic 10 favorite Richmond on Saturday.  

St. Bonaventure continued its dominance over Richmond, a team the Bonnies have beaten in five of six previous matchups in the last four years. 

During last season’s 75-71 nail-biter against the Spiders, then-sophomore guard Jaren Holmes shined, contributing 17 points, four rebounds and an assist in one of his best performances as a Bonnie. Holmes scored another 17 points on Saturday, with three rebounds and two assists.

Holmes, who suffered an injury in the team’s previous game, was a game-time decision, having played just one minute in the Bonnies’ loss to Rhode Island on Wednesday. He managed to play 31 minutes on Saturday in an efficient showing from the now-junior.

 “He’s just a player,” Schmidt said of Holmes. “That toughness, he brings that… that’s what we were missing at the Rhode Island game, that toughness. He makes big time plays when you need them.” 

Lofton wasn’t far behind with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, as well as one rebound and three assists. He also went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Bonaventure’s 12-for-14 free-throw shooting played an important role in keeping up with a dangerous offensive team in Richmond.  

In the first half, SBU’s largest lead was six points, a lead that would last only until the Spiders went on a run of seven consecutive makes in the final four minutes of the half. St. Bonaventure’s starters, specifically Lofton and forward/center Osun Osunniyi, looked gassed on defense toward the end of the half as the Spiders bullied the Bonnies in the paint with three consecutive layups. Richmond guard Blake Francis’ buzzer-beating three would give the Spiders a 35-33 lead at halftime. 

Schmidt said that halftime is where the problems began for the Bonnies in their loss to URI.

“We didn’t get off to a good start in the second half against Rhode Island,” Schmidt said. “By getting off to a good start in the second half, it sets the tone for the half, and I think the guys did a really good job in that situation.” 

Indeed, coming out of halftime, both teams traded blows. St. Bonaventure went on a streak of five consecutive makes, including a three by Holmes. The Spiders managed to answer back with a three of their own Blake Francis, as they tried to continue their momentum from the end of the half with a 40-39 advantage.   Neither team shot well from beyond the arc on Saturday, with both sides shooting under 30%. 

Francis’ triple proved to be the last time Richmond would lead in this game, as Bonaventure answered it a minute and a half later with a pull-up jumper from Lofton to take a 41-40 lead. 

SBU was aided by several Spider miscues, including forward Tyler Burton fouling out of the game with just over a minute left in regulation. Burton, one of the Spiders’ best three-point shooters and their best free-throw shooter, had been in foul trouble for most of the game.  

With fifteen seconds left in the game and Bona leading by one, Bona guard Dom Welch was called for a foul, sending Spiders forward Grant Golden to the line for two. Had he made both free-throws, Richmond would’ve had a 67-66 lead, and wouldn’t have had to hit a three down the stretch to tie the game. He only hit one of the two. Osunniyi grabbed the rebound and the Bonnies called a timeout. 

Off the timeout, Lofton drove the ball up the court following a game-tying jumper by Blake Francis. He dribbled around the top of the key with six seconds left in the game. With two seconds left, Lofton pulled up, off-balance, a couple feet behind the arc.   

He hit the shot. The Bonnies avoided going 0-2 to start A-10 play, and advanced to 3-1 overall on the season.

Osunniyi finished with seven points and 13 rebounds, while Welch scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Richmond was led by Francis, who scored 21 points and handed out three assists. Jacob Gilyard had 13 points for the Spiders, while Nathan Cayo turned in a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

After the game, the character of Lofton and Holmes, as well as the entire team, was not lost on Schmidt.

 “Having a difficult game at Rhode Island, you know, we didn’t play well,” Schmidt said. “It was a struggle… we didn’t play a perfect game today by far, but I thought they handled adversity, they learned from their mistakes. The kids responded in a positive way, and that’s what you like from a coaching perspective.” 

Bona will now return home and prepare for St. Joseph’s, against whom the team will host its A-10 home opener on Wednesday.

Bona fades late, opens A-10 play with loss at Rhode Island

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

KINGSTON, RI — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team prides itself upon limiting its opponents defensively, then controlling the offensive pace of the game by taking optimal shots and using the boards as a means for extra chances. 

Wednesday’s matchup against Rhode Island saw the Bonnies struggle with the latter.  

In their conference opener, the Bonnies traveled to Kingston to face URI in what was an ugly game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The Bonnies and the Rams combined for 44 turnovers as both teams failed to establish any consistent rhythm on offense.  

“They pressured us, but we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It just looked like we were a step slow.” 

Another problem for St. Bonaventure was rebounding, as Rhode Island controlled the glass, out-rebounding SBU, 42-29. Both teams were equal on the offensive glass, but URI limited second possessions for the Bonnies by dominating the boards defensively. 

In the first half, the Bonnies secured a 12-6 advantage, but their lead soon dwindled, and the rest of the half was a back-and-forth contest. With neither team able to find a consistent source of scoring, the Bonnies took a 29-27 lead into the break.  

Despite their merits on the defensive end, offensive woes plagued the Bonnies’ scoring attack, as baskets seemed few and far between. The Bonnies shot 39% from the field and only shot 10 free throws compared to 25 for the Rams.  

“We missed a lot of bunnies, you know, we didn’t take the ball to the basket hard enough,” Schmidt said. 

Rhode Island used a 13-0 run to steal the lead at the beginning of the second half, helped by the shooting of Jeremy Sheppard, who led the Rams with 17 points. The Bonnies responded with 10-0 run, led by Jalen Adaway and Anthony Roberts, who made his debut for the brown and white. 

Adaway made an impact in his third game as a Bonnie, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds.  

“We hung in there,” Schmidt said. “Got off to a bad start in the second half, but we fought back and showed some toughness.” 

St. Bonaventure eventually knotted the game at 47 all with 5:24 remaining, but Mahkel Mitchell of Rhode Island responded with a dunk that put the Rams up for good, as they held on to defeat the Bonnies, 63-57.  

The Bonnies’ dynamic duo of Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi had a quiet afternoon, as Lofton finished with only points and Osunniyi finished with eight points. Osunniyi, stifled by the Rams’ defense, fouled out with 3:47 remaining.

Antwan Walker turned in a double-double for the Rams with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Jermaine Harris had eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

“There’s no moral victories.” Schmidt said. “We didn’t play well enough to deserve to win today.” 

The Bonnies will prepare for a quick turnaround, as they head to Richmond to face the Spiders, the preseason favorite in the A-10, on Saturday.  

Bonnies begin A-10 play with pair of road games at Rhode Island, Richmond

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Mark Schmidt breaks each college basketball season down into three parts: non-conference play, conference play and the postseason.

For Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the first part of the season didn’t go according to plan. The team had six of its eight scheduled games canceled due to a variety of COVID-19 concerns, but won both of the games it was able to play.

After beating Akron and Hofstra, the Bonnies enter Atlantic 10 play undefeated for the first time in program history.

“You just accept it and do the best job you can,” said Schmidt, who is in his 14th season as head coach at SBU, of the team’s unprecedented non-conference slate. “We knew this was going to happen. When it happens, it’s like a punch to the gut, but it is what it is. We’re 2-0, and now we turn our attention to the A-10. It would be just like that if we would have played 11 or 12 games in the non-conference.”

Bona begins A-10 play with a pair of road games against two of the conference’s perennial championship contenders. SBU will first travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday, where they will take on the 3-5 Rams.

“(Rhode Island has) got good size,” Schmidt said. “They’ve got high-major transfers. They’re very aggressive offensively and defensively.”

The Rams, who were picked to finish sixth in the league (Bona was picked to finish fourth), have not only already played eight games this season, but have played three games against Power Five conference opponents. URI’s losses include Arizona State, Boston College and Wisconsin, while the Rams own wins over South Florida, San Francisco and Seton Hall.

URI has lost three games in a row after previously enjoying a three-game winning streak. The Rams have already played one A-10 game, falling at home to Davidson on Dec. 18.

“We’ve got to try to keep them in the half court offensively, and take care of the ball so we don’t turn it over so they can get out on the break,” Schmidt said. “If this is a game that is in the 80s or 90s, they’re probably going to win. We’ve got to try to control tempo as much as we can and do a good job of keeping the ball out of the paint.”

Rhody is led by senior guard Fatts Russell, who has averaged 14.4 points per game and over three assists per game this season. The last time the Bonnies played the Rams, Russell scored 29 points in an 81-75 URI win at the Reilly Center.

“It’s very important for us to take care of the basketball and get shots up,” Schmidt said. “If we can do that and hopefully get some second shots, we’ll be okay. They are a tremendous athletic, physical half-court team.”

Senior guard Jeremy Sheppard averages 9.3 points per game for the Rams, while Antwan Walker, a forward who transferred to the program from Georgetown, averages 8.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

For Bona, Osun Osunniyi has been a bright spot in the middle of Schmidt’s offense. The junior forward/center has averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in Bona’s two victories, while junior guards Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch trail closely behind, each scoring 16.5 points per game over SBU’s young season.

Bona will enjoy the return of transfer guard Anthony Roberts, who missed the team’s first two games due to an extended quarantine period. Roberts averaged 12.7 points per game for Kent State last season.

Despite the lack of in-game reps that the Bonnies have gotten to prepare for A-10 play, Schmidt said that his team is excited to play “no matter who they’re playing.”

After playing URI, Bona will travel to Richmond to play the Spiders, who were the preseason favorite to win the A-10. The Spiders enter A-10 play with a 6-2 record, owning wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt. On Dec. 22, Richmond lost at home to Hofstra, a team that Bona had defeated three days prior.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Schmidt said. “We’ve played two games.”

Bona and URI are scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. That game can be seen on ESPN+. The Bonnies will tip off against the Spiders at 5 p.m. on Saturday in a game that can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

“These two games aren’t going to tell us how good we are or how bad we are, just like the first two games that we played didn’t tell us how good we are or how bad we are,” Schmidt said on Tuesday. “I’ll probably tell you in three or four weeks where we’re at.”

Bona survives Hofstra comeback, wins home opener

photo by Craig Melvin

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — For a moment, it looked like another run-away victory. Then, it wasn’t.

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team defeated Hofstra for the second year in a row on Saturday, in a game that turned out to be much closer than the contest’s start would have indicated.

When the Bonnies jumped out to a 30-7 lead early in the first half, flashbacks of SBU’s 28-point victory over the Pride last December transpired. The Bonnies carried a 15-point lead into halftime, but Jalen Ray got hot for Hofstra from the three-point line in the second half and led the Pride back.

After a frenzy of lead exchanges in the game’s final 10 minutes, the Bonnies went on a 13-3 run to close the game and beat Hofstra, 77-69.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “You knew they were going to come back, but I didn’t think they were going to come back in the second half and outscore us by 27 at one point.”

Trailing by 13 points with 15 minutes left in the second half, Hofstra went on a 29-14 run that spanned 11 minutes and gave the Pride a 66-65 lead. From there, Schmidt’s group responded.

With the game tied at 66 points each, Dominick Welch hit a three-pointer that was followed by a 12-foot floater by Kyle Lofton and two Osun Osunniyi dunks.

“When they took the lead, I thought our guys collected themselves, didn’t hang their heads and fought back,” Schmidt said. “But we beat a good team. Our goal was to be 2-0, and 1-0 at home, and we accomplished that.”

Lofton scored a team-high 16 points, and also dished out nine assists and pulled down four rebounds. Welch scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds while shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“We got comfortable with the lead,” Lofton said. “When we got to the end, we knew it was go time. We couldn’t play laid back. We had to be aggressive. We knew that we had to get stops and rebounds, and finish out possessions.”

Osunniyi had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. He briefly came out of the game two minutes into the second half after picking up his second personal foul.

Osunniyi was replaced by Jalen Shaw, who scored four points in nine minutes of action. In the eight minutes that Osunniyi was on the bench, the Bona lead shrunk from 13 points to three.

“I got into foul trouble, so me not being in the game, I just tried to bring energy from the bench,” Osunniyi said. “It all comes down to the veteran leadership and the more experienced guys telling everybody to stay calm, run our offense and play defense.”

Ray, who scored a game-high 28 points, was instrumental in Hofstra’s second-half comeback. He shot 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, including 5-for-7 in the second half, when 19 of his points were scored. Isaac Kante finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Pride, while former Bona guard Tareq Coburn scored nine points.

Schmidt mentioned several positives that he took away from his team’s performance, including out-rebounding Hofstra by 15 and having a team total of 19 assists compared to 11 turnovers.

“We’ve got to get better,” Schmidt said. “We can’t give up 20-point leads. There are a lot of challenges going on, but I’m proud of our mental toughness.”

Lofton, Welch and Osunniyi each reaching double-digit scoring figures was also encouraging, Schmidt said.

“We need them,” he said. “They’re juniors now; they’re the main guys. Those three guys, along with Jaren (Holmes), need to score the ball.”

Holmes finished with nine points and eight rebounds, while Jalen Adaway had nine points and five rebounds. Eight different Bonnies got on the score sheet.

This is the first time that SBU has started 2-0 in a season since 2013-14, and the first time that Bona has won its home opener since 2016-17. Bona will host “Big 4” rival Buffalo on Tuesday to wrap up the Bonnies’ non-conference schedule.

“I think everybody is slowly starting to find their way on this team,” Osunniyi said. “The new guys are trying to find their way and see where they fit in. That’s good for us.”