Bonnies, Dukes To Tangle In Meeting Of Fourth Place Teams

Game Preview: Duquesne Dukes

Game Date:
Wednesday, Feb. 27
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Reilly Center

Records:
St. Bonaventure 13-14 (9-5)   |     Duquesne 18-9 (9-5)
Bonnies Stats       |       Dukes Stats

Video: ESPN+
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Twitter: @BonniesMBB

Full Media Game Notes (PDF)

Bonnies Game Day Central

OPENING TIP
The end of the regular season is just two weeks away, and Wednesday begins the four-game stretch run when St. Bonaventure hosts Duquesne in the second meeting of the teams this season. The game has major implications on the Atlantic 10 standings as the Bonnies and Dukes are part of a three-way tie for fourth place. The Bonnies topped Duquesne 51-49 on Feb. 6 in Pittsburgh. The game is the second half of a doubleheader with the Bona women hosting La Salle at 5 p.m.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
• The Bonnies have held five of their last six opponents under 61 points and 38 percent shooting. St. Bonaventure is allowing 63 points per game in A-10 play, third best in the conference.
• The Bonnies' next win will give them their fifth straight season of double-digit Atlantic 10 wins.
• Mark Schmidt is now St. Bonaventure's all-time coaching wins leader with 205. He broke Larry Weise's record of 202, which had stood since 1973, in the Feb. 17 win over George Mason.
• An A-10 Rookie of the Year candidate, Kyle Lofton is second among all Atlantic 10 freshmen in scoring (14.8 ppg) and leads all A-10 players in minutes. A two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, he is also among the A-10 leaders in assists (3.7 per game) and steals (1.5).
• Another All-Rookie team candidate, freshman center Osun Osunniyi, leads the A-10 in blocks (2.5 per game) and is fourth in the conference in rebounding (7.1).
• Multi-talented senior guard/forward Courtney Stockard ranks eighth in the A-10 in scoring, 16th in rebounding and 13th in assists. He has played three different positions (2-3-4) this year.
• Junior guard Jalen Poyser came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points at Fordham. Senior LaDarien Griffin continues to spark the Bonnies on both ends of the court.

St. Bonaventure vs. Duquesne: The Last Meeting
Feb. 6, 2019 at The Palumbo Center: Bonnies 51, Dukes 49
St. Bonaventure made only 20 field goals and nine free throws -- and still won. A superb effort on the defensive end led by freshman center Osun Osunniyi powered the Bonnies over a much-improved Duquesne club. Little worked for the Bonnies on the offensive end, yet they led nearly from start to finish. It was dramatic down the stretch, though, as the Dukes pulled within a single point twice in the last 4:24. The Bonnies led 50-49 after Duquesne scored with 2:10 remaining, but neither team could manage a field goal the rest of the way. Dominick Welch made one of two free throws with 6.2 seconds left, and Eric Williams' last-second shot hit the side of the rim and bounced away. Osunniyi, the 6-10 freshman, dominated with a Palumbo Center record 22 rebounds – 11 offensive and 10 defensive. His 22 boards are only five short of Bob Lanier's school record and the most by a St. Bonaventure player since Andrew Nicholson grabbed 23 against Duquesne in 2012. Osunniyi scored nine points and also blocked six shots. St. Bonaventure's other freshman sensation, point guard Kyle Lofton, finished with 16 points despite being limited to 29 minutes due to foul troubles. Freshman Dominick Welch scored 10 points with seven rebounds. LaDarien Griffin had nine points, five rebounds and three blocks.

Duquesne Notes
• Duquesne got a 79-78 come-from-behind win at George Mason last Saturday. The Dukes have now clinched a winning conference record for just the sixth time in school history.
• Sophomore Eric Williams leads a talented group of starters at 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Freshman point guard Sincere Carry, who missed the Mason game with a knee injury, averages 12.3 points and leads the A-10 in assists at 5.8 per game. Tavian Dunn-Martin, starting in place of Carry, scored a career-high 22 points against George Mason. Carry's status for Wednesday's game is unclear.

Series History
This will be the 122nd meeting between the longtime A-10 rivals. St. Bonaventure leads the series 62-59 and has won six in a row over the Dukes. The Dukes have not won at the Reilly Center since 2009.

Improving Defense
Coach Mark Schmidt often talks about hoping to see his team improve through conference play, and that has been the case this season, most notably on the defensive end. The Bonnies have now held eight of their 14 Atlantic 10 opponents to 60 points or less.
A look at some of the Bonnies' defensive ranks in A-10 games:
Category                         Avg./#       A-10 Rank
Scoring defense               62.9 ppg          3rd
Opp. FG Pct.                    .410                 4th
Rebound Margin              +2.6                 4th
Blocked Shots                  4.4                  3rd
Defensive Reb. %             .745                5th
Turnover Margin                +1.3               5th

Stockard Shows Versatility And Value
Senior Courtney Stockard underwent a knee procedure which caused him to miss the first six games this season. The Bonnies went 1-5 over those six games. Now back at 100 percent, he is again showing that he is one of the most versatile, talented players in the A-10. Capable of playing -- and guarding -- at least three positions, Stockard is eighth in the A-10 in scoring (16.1), 16th in rebounding (6.3) and 13th in assists (3.4). He has 19 games in double figure scoring topped by a career high 36 points against Dayton. Last year, Stockard averaged 13.3 points. Over Stockard's 52 career games in the lineup, the Bonnies are 35-17. 

Lofton Makes Case As A-10 Rookie Of The Year Candidate
Freshman Kyle Lofton continues to build a case for A-10 Rookie of the Year. One of the most consistent, impactful freshmen in the conference, he is now a two-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week. Lofton earned his second such accolades the week ending Feb. 17 after he scored a career high 32 points with seven assists in a win over George Mason. Lofton has been the Bonnies' point guard from day one this season, filling the large shoes of Jaylen Adams. Lofton has shown he is up to the task, averaging 14.8 points per game with a team-leading 100 assists. Remarkably consistent, he has scored in double figures in 22 of 27 games with six games of 20-plus points. He has also been a key to the Bonnies' defense which is allowing 63 points per game to Atlantic 10 teams.
A look at Lofton's ranks in the A-10 stats:
In A-10 games only:                        Overall/Freshmen
Scoring                 15.7                                      7th /1st
Assists                  3.5 apg                               14th / 3rd
Assist-to-TO         1.6                                       11th / 4th
Steals                   1.6 pg                                  5th / 2nd
Free Throw%        .789                                       9th / 1st
Mintes                  38.3                                      2nd / 1st

All Games:                        Overall/Freshmen
Scoring                 14.8                                   13th / 2nd
Assists                  3.7 apg                               10th / 3rd
Assist-to-TO         1.8                                         8th / 4th
Free Throw%        .810                                       8th / 1st
Minutes                37.6                                       1st / 1st 

Double-O Also All-Rookie Candidate
Freshman center Osun Osunniyi, who coach Mark Schmidt describes as "oozing with potential," is continuing to develop every practice and every game. For the year, he is averaging 7.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with four double-doubles. He is making 55 percent of his shots. He leads the A-10 and ranks 9th nationally in blocks at 2.6 per game (69 total). Osunniyi has a chance to break St. Bonaventure's freshman record for blocks in a season of 81 set by Andrew Nicholson in 2008-09. Three of Osunniyi's double-doubles have been in A-10 play, including when he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week for the week ending Jan. 13. Over his last eight games, Osunniyi averaged 7.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. The Bonnies went 6-2 over that span. Osunniyi's progress is significant, as he only started playing seriously as a sophomore at Mainland Regional High in Pleasantville, N.J., when he grew from 6'1' to 6'8". A look at Osunniyi's ranks in the A-10 stats:
A-10 Games Only:                             Overall/Freshmen
Rebounding                      8.6 rpg                  3rd / 1st
Blocked Shots                 2.5 bpg                   2nd / 1st
Field Goal Pct.                  .541                      11th / 3rd
All Games:                                  Overall/Freshmen
Rebounding                    7.1                       4th / 1st
Blocked Shots                2.6 bpg                 10th / 3rd
Offensive Rebounds       2.8 pg                     6th / 2nd

Griffin Playing Like A Senior
St. Bonaventure had to play without one of its senior leaders for a long stretch this season as senior forward LaDarien Griffin was sidelined 10 games by a sprained knee. He suffered the injury in the Nov. 7 season opener against Bucknell. Griffin, who was named the Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player in 2017-18, returned to action Dec. 21 at Northeastern. Understandably, it took him some to regain his form. Over his first three games after returning, Griffin averaged just 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. But since Atlantic 10 play started, he has averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds while converting 51 percent of his shots from the field. That stretch elevated his season averages up to 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior. His length and athleticism also enables Griffin to be a versatile defender, as his 15 blocks and 19 steals attest. Griffin snagged a season high 11 rebounds at Fordham Feb. 23. 

Welch Picks Up Shooting, Scoring
Yet another player who missed significant time due to an injury was freshman swingman Dominick Welch. Now fully healthy, he has started to produce consistently. The highly-regarded Buffalo native started the first four games of the year before he suffered a bruised foot that forced him to miss nine games from Nov. 20 to Jan. 6. Welch now has six A-10 games in double figure scoring including four of the last six. Over his last four games, Welch averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest while connecting on eight of 18 shots (.444) of his three-point shots and 13-27 (.481) from the field overall.

 

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