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Bonnies Capture Back-and-Forth Battle at Duquesne, 83-80

Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies with 21 points and seven assists, including a clutch three late. (Photo: Ed Marra)
Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies with 21 points and seven assists, including a clutch three late. (Photo: Ed Marra)
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MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Saddled by foul trouble and with the momentum firmly in the hands of host Duquesne following a 7-0 run to tie, sophomore Kyle Lofton drained the biggest shot of the St. Bonaventure basketball season – a three with 1:14 to play. Lofton's clutch shot turned out to be the game-winner, sending Bonaventure to an 83-80 victory Saturday afternoon Robert Morris' UPMC Events Center.

Lofton's trey snapped what was a four-minute cold spell that caused a 77-70 Bonnies lead to turn into a 77-77 tie as the clock ticked under 90 seconds. Though forced to sit for a time during the late minutes because of four fouls, Lofton finished with 21 points and seven assists on 7-of-11 shooting.

Jaren English followed with 15 points, five assists and seven rebounds while Dominick Welch narrowly missed another double-double with 14 points and nine boards. Osun Osunniyi tacked on 12 points and nine rebounds.

In the end, the Bonnies left the Pittsburgh area with perhaps their most important – and impressive – win of the year, improving to 16-8 overall and 8-3 in Atlantic 10 play. Duquesne, which received Top 25 votes earlier in the year and entered the weekend riding high after completing a season sweep of Saint Louis, now stands 17-6, 7-4.

St. Bonaventure started strong, opening a 15-7 advantage just over five minutes in as English beat the shot clock with a long trey. Duquesne, though, would respond with a quick 8-0 break to immediately tie.

That would set up an entertaining back-and-forth that would see the teams exchange the lead nine times and share six ties before intermission.

Both teams dealt with foul trouble to a star player early – Bona was forced to sit Osunniyi at the 10:11 mark of the first half with two fouls while Duquesne's Sincere Carry sat with 8:23 before break with his second.

Bona would ultimately take a 43-38 lead after one half, and opened the second period hot. A put-back jam from Osunniyi gave the Bonnies their largest lead, 49-40, and forced a Dukes timeout less than three minutes into the half.

The lead would stretch to 10, but the Dukes took advantage of a third foul to Osunniyi with another 8-0 sprint and a 58-57 score with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Foul trouble would continue to haunt the Bonnies, though.

St. Bonaventure would slowly pull back ahead to a 77-70 advantage following a three from English, who was running the point with Lofton sitting following his fourth foul at the 5:45 mark. Just over a minute later, another whistle to Osunniyi left SBU with two of its sophomore stars on the bench.

For over four minutes the Bonnies would go cold on the offensive end and a Carry fall-away jumper tied the game with 1:36 to play. Lofton would break the deadlock on the next possession off a feed from Welch and Carry would miss his attempt at the equalizer on the opposite end.

Welch's bucket in the paint would effectively ice the game, pushing the edge to two possessions with less than 20 seconds left.

Tavian Dunn-Martin led all scorers with 25 points for Duquesne while Carry finished with 17. Marcus Weathers, Duquesne's leading scorer for the year, tallied seven points and did not make any of his six shot attempts from the floor.

GAME NOTES

  • The Bonnies won the battle of the boards, 41-27, improving to 14-2 when winning the rebounding battle.
  • Saturday's game was played on campus at Robert Morris due to construction at Duquesne's home gym that will force the Dukes to play off campus all season. It was a homecoming of sorts for Bona head coach Mark Schmidt who led the RMU program for six seasons between 2001-07.
  • Bonaventure moved to 29-7 during the month of February since 2016 and has won 17 of the past 19 February contests.
  • Freshman Justin Winston just missed a third straight game in double figures, finishing with nine points.
  • Senior Amadi Ikpeze provided valuable minutes off the bench, recording four points and six rebounds.
  • St. Bonaventure now stands 64-59 all-time over their longtime rival including eight straight victories.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT
"It was a high-level game with big plays at both ends. They're a good offensive team and we did a decent job; the game plan was to take away the inside game. We did an OK job on Weathers, but Dunn went off and Carry hit some tough shots. But we were still able to make the plays that we needed down the stretch."

"Dom made that big shot at the end, Amadi was great in the first half when 'Shoon got into foul trouble. Kyle stepped up at the end and hits a big, big shot off a really good pass. We made plays when we needed to make plays. It was a great atmosphere and we did what we needed to do to come out on top by one bucket."

"We can't get satisfied, we can't get comfortable. We're improving, but we're not there yet. We need to take this as a building block and continue to work hard. A game like this can help us, but momentum is only as good as the next game."

UP NEXT
The Bonnies have a quick turnaround, making the first of two trips this month to the City of Brotherly Love for a date at Saint Joseph's Tuesday night. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.

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