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.”

Bonnies survive Richmond comeback, beat the Spiders for share of third place

photo by Erin Lanahan/The Intrepid

By Hayden Robinson

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After a controversial call by referees, clutch free throws from St. Bonaventure’s Jaren English and Dominic Welch helped the Bonnies seal a win over Richmond on Saturday. 

The SBU men’s basketball team team pulled out a narrow victory over the Spiders at the Reilly Center, 75-71. 

With 35 seconds left in the game, Bona sophomore Bobby Planutis committed  a “flagrant one” foul. This would lead to a free throw made, followed by a clutch 3-pointer by Richmond’s Blake Francis, cutting Bonaventure’s previously sizable lead down to three points. 

Richmond would foul to stop the clock, but the Bonnies’ free throw shooting would prove to be the x-factor.

English and Welch were a combined 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 25 seconds of the game.

English Finished with 17 points, while Welch put up a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

During this time of the year, you want to start putting everything together,” Bona forward Osun Osunniyi said. “The way we handled the big shots they hit, hitting our free throws when we had to, was really big.” 

 Bonaventure started the game on a 14-4 run over the first five minutes, making it seem as if it would be a game in Bonaventure’s hands. However, Richmond continued fight, keeping it within 10 points for much of the game 

A big corner three by Dominic Welch would put the Bonnies up by 13 points with nine minutes left in the game, which was  Bonaventure’s biggest lead of the night. 

Welch attributed his hot shooting tonight to his calm demeanor on the court.  

Just have to play my game and go with the flow,” Welch said. “Just playing with confidence.” 

Bona head coach Mark Schmidt spoke briefly on the difficulty playing against a successful in-conference team like Richmond. 

They hit some big shots at the end and they’re a team that you have to pick your poison,” Schmidt said. “They’re hard to defend and they played exceptionally well.” 

St. Bonaventure’s next game will be at home this Wednesday against Duquesne, who boasts an 8-6 record in cofference.   

All games at this point in the season are important for the Bonnies, as they are third in the A-10 conference at 10-4, and only two games behind Rhode Island for the second spot. 

Lofton’s big shot leads Bonnies to road win over Duquesne

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

MOON TOWNSHIP, PA — When Sincere Carry tied the game, all of the momentum was in Duquesne’s favor.

The Dukes had completed a 9-0 run after trailing for the entire second half, and prompted a hearty roar from a rowdy UPMC Events Center crowd.

However, St. Bonaventure guard Kyle Lofton didn’t seem to mind.

With 1:14 left in the game, Lofton nailed a three-pointer to put the Bonnies men’s basketball team up for good on its way to an 83-80 win over the Dukes on Saturday afternoon.

“I knew I was going to be the one to shoot it,” Lofton said. “In that type of moment, the coaches trust me. They depended on me, so I was confident and I stuck it.”

The shot was just one of many big-time offensive plays in the game, as the teams traded blows the whole way in front of a crowd that featured a sea of both Bona’s brown and white, and the blue and red of the Dukes.

Lofton hit five of his six shot attempts from beyond the arc. He finished with 21 points and seven assists.

“The thing I was most proud of was that whenever they made a play, we answered,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “To be able to do that against a really good team shows that we’re growing.”

Seven players reached double-digit scoring in the game, and the teams combined to shoot 24-for-54 from beyond the arc (44 percent).

 Jaren English scored 15 points for the Bonnies, the sixth time this season that he has reached that number.

Dom Welch added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Osun Osunniyi racked up 12 points and nine rebounds.

“I think (the win) shows our character and toughness, and what we can be in the future,” Lofton said. “We have guys that can score the ball, and it was good to have multiple guys in double figures.”

Duquesne’s three-point shooting kept it in the game the entire way, as the Dukes hit on 14-of-34 triples.

Tavian Dunn-Martin shot 7-for-15 on his own from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 25 points.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Carry came alive in the second and finished with 17 points. Baylee Steele added 15 points for the Dukes.

“The game plan was to try to take away their inside game,” Schmidt said. “Even though they played really well, we still made the plays that we needed to make. Everybody did what they needed to do.”

With Osunniyi in foul trouble for much of the first half, Amadi Ikpeze played 15 minutes off the bench and put up four points to go with six rebounds. Osunniyi played just over 24 minutes.

The win boosted SBU to 16-8 overall, while Duquesne fell to 17-6 overall.

More importantly, it moved the Bonnies to 8-3 in Atlantic 10 play, while the Dukes fell to 7-4.

The teams will meet again at the Reilly Center on Feb. 26 in a game that could potentially have a large impact on seeding for the A-10 tournament in March.

However, Schmidt said that he isn’t looking that far ahead.

“You learn how to win by winning,” Schmidt said. “We can’t get satisfied and we can’t get comfortable.”

The Bonnies will travel to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday to play the Hawks, who are 0-9 in the A10.

Nicholson returns to the RC; talks pro career and life overseas

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The last time Andrew Nicholson was in the Reilly Center, a banner with his last name and former jersey number was unveiled from the rafters of the building.

On Wednesday night, Nicholson returned to a greeting that was similar to the one he received when his number 44 was retired by the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball program in 2016.

The RC gave a standing ovation to welcome back Nicholson, SBU’s second all-time leading scorer and former first-round NBA draft pick.

Before the Bonnies took on George Washington, Nicholson received his SBU all-time team plaque.

During the game, he talked about what it was like to be back at his alma mater, and the journey that his professional basketball career has taken him on.

“I had dinner with (Bonnies head coach) Mark Schmidt yesterday and saw a bunch of my old professors and friends,” Nicholson said. “Just being able to be on the floor and work out, and to remember when I was here, was amazing.”

Nicholson graduated from Bona’s in 2012 after scoring 2103 career points. The 6-9 power forward averaged 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds his junior year, then 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game his senior season.

He led the Bonnies to the 2012 Atlantic 10 championship and an NCAA tournament berth, and was named 2012 A-10 player of the year.

Nicholson was selected 19th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2012 NBA draft. After playing five seasons in the association, he averaged six points per game in just over 14 minutes per game.

“The politics of the NBA are nothing that I could really escape from,” Nicholson said. “It happens to the best of us. But I got what I wanted out of it.”

After the NBA, Nicholson’s career took him to China, where he has quickly become a star in the Chinese Basketball Association.

“It’s definitely different than being (in North America),” Nicholson said. “It was hard to adjust my first year, but now that I’ve picked up on the language and the culture a little bit, it has made it easier for me.”

Playing for the Guangzhou Long-Lions, Nicholson averaged 27.6 points and 10.9 rebounds in 26 games this season before the league postponed the remainder of its season due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

He averaged the same number of points per game over the 2018-19 season playing for the Fujian Sturgeons, and 24.3 points per game for the Guangdong Southern Tigers the year before.

Nicholson said that being back around SBU has been a nice change of pace, compared to life in professional basketball.

“With my lifestyle, I’m always staying in hotels and bouncing around,” he said. “Coming back to somewhere where I was for so long, it’s like coming back home.”

Now at age 30, Nicholson is appreciative that he can continue to play professionally. He said that he has learned to play the CBA style of basketball, and wants to play for as long as he can.

“Wherever the ball takes me, I’m always going to go and try to be the best version of myself.”

 

Bonnies roll past George Washington

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — An electric crowd at the Reilly Center always gives the Bonnies an advantage.

On Wednesday night, this advantage proved to be crucial, as the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team secured a win against George Washington, 72-47.

Once SBU center Osun Osunniyi won the opening tip, it was off to the races.

The Bonnies started the game scorching hot with a 10-0 run in a balanced scoring effort. With George Washington reeling, their offense had to come from someone, and fast.

Despite a GW comeback that balanced the score, the Bonnies continued to torch their opponent with their balanced inside and outside scoring.

At the end of the first half, St. Bonaventure led 39-27.

George Washington kept the game close behind Jameer Nelson Jr.’s 14 points in the first half. He single-handedly brought the Colonials back after an abysmal start.

“In the first half, I didn’t think we played particularly well, especially defensively,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “But I thought that in the second half, we did a much better job of keeping them in front of us and contesting shots.”

St. Bonaventure would go on a run at the beginning of the second half that their opponent just couldn’t handle. The lead extended up to 26 points with just under seven minutes to play.

Bonnies guard Jaren English had himself a night, as well. He finished with 21 points, 12 of which came in the first half, and he shot 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“I’ve been working on my shot and getting in the gym extra,” English said. “I shot three for four, but I should have made the fourth one. I just have to get better, keep shooting and keep trusting in my progress and process.”

Osunniyi racked up 16 points for the Bonnies, while Dom Welch and Justin Winston scored 11 points each.

Jameer Nelson, Jr. carried the GW offense for most of the game, as he finished with 19 points. Jamison Battle added 13 points for the Colonials.

The win moved the Bonnies to 15-8 overall, and 7-3 in Atlantic 10 play. GW fell to 10-13 overall, and 4-6 in the A-10.

On Saturday, the Bonnies will travel down to Pennsylvania to take on the Duquesne Dukes.

The Dukes boast an overall record of 17-5, making this a tough matchup for the Bonnies.

Bonnies fall short against Rhode Island

photo by Erin Lanahan/The Intrepid

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Fatts Russell showed a sold out Reilly Center why he is one of the leading candidates for Atlantic 10 player of the year.

The junior guard scored 29 points, including 20 in the second half, for the Rhode Island men’s basketball team in an 81-75 win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon.

In an 8-for-14 shooting effort, Russell shot 5-for-9 from three-point range and 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

“When I’m hot, I feel like any shot I take is going to go in,” Russell said. “I tried to slow myself down, and pick and choose my spots.”

After trailing 40-35 at halftime, the Rams went on a 7-0 run to begin the second half. They took the lead for good with 14:33 remaining in the second half, when Russell buried a three pointer.

“I felt like once we had the lead in the second half, our guards are good enough to control the game,” Russell said.

Bona made a late push with four minutes remaining, when Justin Winston knocked down a three pointer to make the score 69-66.

That was as close as the Bonnies would get.

Winston was one of five Bonnies to reach double-digit scoring, as he finished with 12 points.

Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies in scoring with 15 points, while Dominick Welch and Jaren English each scored 14 points. Alejandro Vasquez racked up 11 points, including three big three-pointers in the first half.

“I thought the game was decided in the first four minutes of the second half,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We came out lethargic and they came after us.”

Missed free throws plagued the Bonnies down the stretch. They shot 13-for-14 from the line in the first half, but just 7-for-12 in the second half.

“With an inexperienced team, you have to make foul shots,” Schmidt said. “Against a team like Rhode Island, every possession is critical, and I thought that at some points we broke down.”

Tyrese Martin scored 14 points for Rhode Island, including a big three to answer Winston’s and re-establish the Rams’ six-point lead.

Cyril Langevine had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeff Dowtin scored 11 points.

This was St. Bonaventure’s third-straight loss, as it has gotten a taste of the Atlantic 10’s best over the past week. The Bonnies fell to VCU and Dayton previously.

SBU sits at 12-8 overall and 4-3 in the A-10. Rhode Island improved to 14-5 overall and 6-1 in the A-10.

“Rhode Island is one of the best teams in our league, and we were right there with a chance to win,” Schmidt said. “The effort was there, but the execution has to get a little bit better.”

The Bonnies will travel to Fordham on Wednesday before returning home on Feb. 1 to host George Mason.

 

Ask an opposing beat writer: St. Bonaventure at VCU

photo courtesy of Alessandro Latour/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

After four-straight wins to begin Atlantic 10 play, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team travels to VCU on Saturday to play a Rams team that is 2-2 in the A-10 following losses at Rhode Island and Dayton.

Ahead of Bona’s biggest test in league play so far, Noah Fleischman took the time to answer some questions that will allow Bonnies fans to become more familiar with VCU.

Fleischman, a sophomore at VCU, is the sports editor of The Commonwealth Times, for whom he covers the Rams.

The Bonnies and Rams will tip off at the Seigel Center at 2 p.m.

1) VCU scheduled plenty of quality opponents in non-conference play, including then-ranked LSU and Tennessee, Purdue and more. Would you say that the consensus at VCU is that the 10-3 non-conference finish was a success or a failure?

The non-conference finish was pretty successful, despite dropping those three games. The Rams lost both of their games at the Emerald Coast Classic by a total of six points against Tennessee and Purdue.

LSU was the Rams’ “resume” building win early in the season when the Tigers visited the Siegel Center. The atmosphere alone in the arena was similar to that of an NCAA tournament game and VCU played like it.

The only disappointment of the non-conference slate was the Wichita State 73-63 loss. VCU trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half on the road. Last season, the Rams handled Wichita State at the Siegel Center 70-54.

Other than the loss to Wichita State, the non-conference slate wasn’t a failure because of the ranked win against LSU.

2) Last year at the Atlantic 10 tournament, it was obvious that Marcus Santos-Silva was a rising star. This year, despite his statistics only slightly improving from last season, he leads VCU in scoring and rebounding. How much has he improved this year?

Marcus Santos-Silva has been more consistent this season for VCU than he was last season. He’s posted six double-double performances so far this season, something he did twice through the team’s first 16 games. Everytime the ball hits off the rim, Santos-Silva is the first to put a hand on the ball for VCU.

Not only does he rebound the ball at a high level, but he’s the centerpiece of the VCU offense. The Rams run an inside/outside approach, working the ball into the paint before looking for the open three-pointer. VCU is 4-2 this season when he records a double-double, the losses being Tennessee and Rhode Island. Santos-Silva is also shooting 60% from the field, second-best in the A-10 behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin.

Santos-Silva worked on his ball handling and footwork over the summer, allowing him to be more mobile than in past years. One thing I like about Santos-Silva is that he’s unselfish. Even though he’s leading the team in points and rebounds, he doesn’t care about the numbers unless it’s a win.

I wrote this story earlier this season on Santos-Silva and having fun while playing.

3) Other than Santos-Silva and Marcus Evans, which VCU players should St. Bonaventure fans expect to make an impact on Saturday against the Bonnies?

De’Riante Jenkins. He’s averaging 11.1 points a game for VCU and is shooting 40% from the field. The senior hasn’t been shooting the ball too well from three this season, but has been slashing in the paint. Coach Mike Rhoades wants his guards to slash towards the basket and Jenkins is effective at it. He also logged his 1,000th career point at Wichita State this season.

A younger player that St. Bonaventure fans should keep their eye on is Nah’Shon ‘Bones’ Hyland. Hyland, a four-star recruit, replaced P.J. Byrd as the backup point guard behind Marcus Evans this season. He is a confident shooter and isn’t afraid to shoot threes. Rhoades has also used Hyland and Evans on the floor together at times this season, moving Evans to the two guard and Hyland at point. With that lineup on the floor, VCU has two high level ball handlers on the floor, taking the pressure off Evans.

4) Before the season, VCU was regarded by many as a top-two team in the Atlantic 10. Do you think that’s still true? What surprises (on the Rams or other teams) have happened this season that impact your answer?

I think VCU is still a top-two team in the A-10. Yes, they lost to Rhode Island, but that’s nothing new for the Rams. They are 1-7 against Rhode Island in their last eight meetings. If you look at the loss at Dayton, one run defined the game. The Flyers used a 22-0 second-half run to build a 22 point lead. The Rams were able to pull within nine at one point, but couldn’t pull ahead.

The surprise of the season is how poorly the Rams have shot three-pointers. In the loss to Dayton, the Rams shot 3-for-20 from beyond the arc. On the season, VCU is shooting 33% from three, which is seventh in the A-10. If the Rams can shoot more consistently from deep, they’ll be one of the more dangerous teams in the A-10. They have the pieces to do it, it’s just a matter of time before the shots start to fall.

In the A-10, I’m surprised that VCU is the only team that has beat a ranked team. That might change if someone other than VCU can beat Dayton this season. Even Dayton hasn’t beaten a ranked team this season. That shouldn’t hurt the A-10’s chances for a multi-bid league if Dayton wins the A-10 tournament unless VCU doesn’t play well in A-10 play.

Bonnies beat Niagara for sixth-straight win

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The snowstorm that blew through the Southern Tier may have slowed down Wednesday evening commutes.

But it certainly didn’t slow down the offense of the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, which shot 50 percent from the field on its way to an 87-70 in over Niagara at the Reilly Center.

SBU did not trail in the game, and led by double-digits for most of the way before surviving a Niagara comeback late in the second half.

The Purple Eagles pulled within six points with just over five minutes to go, but Bona re-gained momentum and went on a 19-8 run to end the game.

Six Bonnies scored in double-digits, including 17 points from Dominick Welch.

Welch shot 5-for-9 from three-point range, and also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists.

“The more guys we have scoring the basketball, the more difficult it is for the opponent to guard us,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “That’s common sense. When you have six guys who can score, it makes your offense that much more effective.”

Kyle Lofton compiled a double-double, as he had 11 assists to go with 12 points.

“We need him to be a scoring point guard, and that’s what he’s doing,” Schmidt said. “I think he shot the ball much better today, and he’s always been able to pass the ball and be the floor general. We need him to do both.”

It was Lofton’s third game in a row in which he handed out 11 assists, as he previously did it against Hofstra and Gannon.

Alejandro Vasquez scored 14 points for the Bonnies, and Osun Osunniyi was close behind him with 13 points to go with seven rebounds.

Osunniyi said that Schmidt used the fact that Niagara had beaten SBU each of the past two years as motivation.

“Our mindset was that we weren’t going to lose,” Osunniyi said. “Two years ago they stole one here, so we had the mindset that we weren’t going to let them come in and beat us again.”

Rounding out the double-digit scorers for Bona were Amadi Ikpeze, who had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Justin Winston, who scored 10 points.

The Bonnies shot 46 percent from three-point range (12-for-16), and made 17-of-18 free throws.

Niagara was paced by Marcus Hammond, who scored 21 points. Nicholas Kratholm scored 10 points for the Purple Eagles.

The Bonnies out-rebounded Niagara 39-22, including 10-2 on offensive boards.

“We dealt with adversity, which was good to see,” Schmidt said. “There are a lot of positives. But we’ve got a long way to go, both offensively and defensively.”

This was SBU’s sixth-straight win, and the Bonnies now sit at 7-4 on the year. Niagara falls to 2-7 with the loss.

The Bonnies will not play again in the Reilly Center until Jan. 11, as they begin a four-game road trip at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.