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.