Defensive struggle, free throw shooting contest – call it whatever you want, but it still resulted in another St. Bonaventure win.
Wednesday at the Reilly Center, it took all 40 minutes for the Bonnies to pull out a 73-67 win over Duquesne, earning their ninth straight win.
St. Bonaventure (21-6) now has its longest win streak in 48 years and, more importantly, remained in a tie for second place in the Atlantic 10 with a mark of 11-4.
All-American candidate Jaylen Adams led all players with 24 points and five assists. Senior guard Matt Mobley was limited to five points, but teammates Amadi Ikpeze and Idris Taqqee delivered. Ikpeze, the improving sophomore center, recorded the first double-double of his career with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Taqqee scored 11 points and grabbed eight boards. Courtney Stockard delivered right on his season average with 12 points.
A sure sign of a high quality team is one that can win without playing its best. Credit Duquesne for some stingy defense as well, but the Bonnies' defense prevailed on a night when its offense often stalled.
A game featuring 14 ties and 10 lead changes had the teams deadlocked at 56-56 with 5:01 left. Free throws by Ikpeze and Adams 13 seconds apart put the Bonnies in front 60-56 at the 3:36 mark. It was a lead the home team would not relinquish, but not without some nervous moments.
Duquesne pulled within 63-60, but Stockard's turnaround jumper with 1:58 left gave the Bonnies some breathing room at 65-60. Duquesne's Tarin Smith, however, answered with a three-pointer at the 1:35 mark.
Adams got in the lane and canned a mid-range jumper with 1:07 remaining to make it a 67-63 score. After the teams traded missed shots, Idris Taqqee got free for a breakaway dunk with 24 seconds left that gave the Bonnies a 69-63 edge and essentially sealed the outscore.
The Bonnies made only 10 second half field goals, going 0-4 from three-point range, but made up for it by drawing fouls. St. Bonaventure went 21-25 at the free throw line in the second half, including a string of 20 straight to start before they missed.
Stats Of The Game
Duquesne's 34.9 field goal percentage was the fifth-lowest shooting percentage the Bonnies allowed this season, and the 11th time they have held a team under 40 percent shooting. St. Bonaventure is 11-0 in those games. While the Bonnies went an uncharacteristic 2-12 from three-point range, they held the Dukes to 5-22 from behind the arc (23 percent).
Quotes From Coach Mark Schmidt
"That's the best defensive performance all year. I thought consistently we didn't have a great offensive game … but from a defensive standpoint from the very beginning to the end, we did a really good job of keeping the ball above the foul line, getting back in transition, making it really difficult for them to score from half court. I thought we did a much better job than we did in (the first matchup vs. Duquesne on Feb. 3) where they just drove it down our throats."
"I thought that's the best game Amadi (Ikpeze) has played in his career. I thought Idris (Taqqee) was another guy who was the unsung hero and Courtney (Stockard) hit that big fall-away with 1:30 left in the game."
"We made our foul shots, but we won the game defending and that's what I'm most proud of. We've struggled at times this year when we don't play good offensively, I thought our guys really connected tonight and committed and did a great job on the defensive end, and that's why we're sitting here with our 21st victory."
Beyond The Boxscore
- Jaylen Adams moved past Essie Hollis and into sixth place on the program's all-time scoring list. He now has 1,801 career points.
- The Bonnies won their 12th straight game in the Reilly Center, where they are now 12-1 this season.
- While St. Bonaventure did not clinch a top-four finish in the A-10, it moved a step closer. The Bonnies and Davidson are tied for second place, three games clear of VCU and Saint Louis, who are tied for fourth place at 8-7.
Up Next: St. Bonaventure will travel to VCU this Saturday for an 8 p.m. tipoff. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.
St. Bonaventure basketball tickets are available via GoBonnies.com/tickets; by calling (716) 375-2500 or at the St. Bonaventure ticket office in the Reilly Center. For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @Go_Bonnies and get men's basketball updates @BonniesMBB. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.