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).”

Bonnies beat Duquesne for second time

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

PITTSBURGH, PA — Playing tough and winning as a unit, Mark Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team are now off to a historic start.  

Achieving this mark was no easy task, rather it required an emotional and physical slugfest against SBU’s long-time Atlantic 10 rival, Duquesne. The Bonnies beat the Dukes for the second time this season, however, knocking off Duquesne, 65-61, at La Roche University.

The Bonnies overcame an early 12-4 deficit to take the lead, which grew to as many as 10 points when junior guard Dominick Welch hit a free throw to put the Bonnies up 29-19. In the last three minutes of the half though, the Dukes stormed back to take a 32-31 lead into the break. After a back-and-forth second half, Duquesne senior center Michael Hughes tied the game at 55-55 with 3:29 left.

Then, Jalen Adaway took control. 

“He played really well for us,” said Schmidt, SBU’s head coach, of Adaway. “We wouldn’t have won without him.” 

Adaway finished the game with a double-double, earning 12 points and 10 rebounds along with two blocks coming off the bench. Left out of the starting lineup due to a non-COVID-19 related illness, the junior forward asserted himself with a crucial and-one basket that put the Bonnies up 58-55 after the made foul shot.  

On the next possession, Adaway soared above the Dukes for a put-back flush off of a Kyle Lofton miss, igniting the St. Bonaventure bench and leaving Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot and the Dukes in disbelief. Adaway proceeded to block two shots and sank three foul shots in the last 90 seconds to push the Bonnies to their seventh-consecutive A-10 win.

“We just knew it was crunch time, and I just tried to do what I could to help us come out with the win,” Adaway said. “Whether it was grabbing a couple of rebounds or making those foul shots, I just wanted to win, we all just wanted to win, so I tried to do whatever it took.” 

The heroics of Adaway were key, but the contributions of other Bonnies were essential, as well. Kyle Lofton led the scoring with 17 points, while Welch continued his hot shooting from Wednesday night’s, win going 3-for-5 from three-point range and finishing with 14 points. Jalen Shaw also saw big minutes after starting forward/center Osun Osunniyi found himself in early foul trouble, contributing seven points in 16 minutes.  

“We have an amazing group of guys, and our chemistry is through the roof,” Adaway said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of such a group, you know, with our coaching staff and our program as a whole.” 

Only shooting 39.6% from the field and turning the ball over fifteen times, the Bonnies found an edge on the boards with a 42-35 advantage in rebounds, and shot 18-of-25 from the foul line compared to 12-of-16 from Duquesne.

“Hopefully, our offense gets going, our shooting gets going, but you still win,” Schmidt said. “The staple of any good program is defense and rebounding and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.” 

Tavian Dunn-Martin led the Dukes with 18 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from three, and Michael Hughes added 15 points, going 7-for-11 from the field. Marcus Weathers finished with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, while all other players for Duquesne were held to single-digit scoring. 

With their second loss to the Bonnies, Duquesne now falls to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in conference play. 

Bona’s streak now grows to six straight wins for the Bonnies in A-10 play, now siting at 8-1 overall (best start since 2000-01) and 6-1 in the A-10 (best start since 1982-83). St. Bonaventure’s lead in the A-10 is now a full game ahead of UMass and Davidson, the latter of which the Bonnies will face next Saturday on the road.  

“It wasn’t a pretty game on either end for both teams,” Schmidt said. “But we found a way to win and that shows a lot of character, it shows a lot of competitiveness.” 

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+.  

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’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.