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Lofton, Winston Power Bonnies To Fifth Straight Win, 74-56 at Saint Joseph's

Kyle Lofton poured in 20 points at Saint Joseph's Tuesday night (Photo: Sideline Photos, LLC/Gavin Baker)
Kyle Lofton poured in 20 points at Saint Joseph's Tuesday night (Photo: Sideline Photos, LLC/Gavin Baker)
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PHILADELPHIA – Tuesday night's contest at Hagan Arena could have been described as a "trap" game for the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team.

That description would be understandable – the Bonnies were fresh off their most impactful win of the conference season at Duquesne on Saturday and with a national TV date with Davidson looming Friday night.

In the middle came a trip to Saint Joseph's, and for the first half anyway, some of those worries were founded.

The Bonnies came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, though, to erase a halftime deficit and roll to a 74-56 victory at Hawk Hill.

With the victory, the Bonnies improved to 17-8 overall and 9-3 in the Atlantic 10 with their best start to conference action since 2016. Prior to four years ago, the last time the Bonnies opened a conference campaign at 9-3 was in 1983. 

Down three at the break, the Bonnies roared to a 24-8 run to begin the second half.

Justin Winston scored five straight points to start the sprint, then received much assistance from Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi and friends as the Bonnies took control.

For Winston, it was a career night – the freshman posted a career-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and he added five rebounds and three assists. Lofton matched his freshman teammate with 20 points of his own, going 7-for-13 from the field along with six rebounds and three assists.

Osunniyi added 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals while Dominick Welch delivered nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists in another stat sheet-filling performance.

The first half was tight throughout, barely separated by more than a possession during the first 20 minutes.

The zone displayed from the Hawks kept the Bonnies off balance during the first opening half as the visitors went 12-for-31 during the first half and, most surprisingly, down 23-14 on the boards despite their size advantage inside.

As soon as the second half began, though, the script was flipped. Winston hit two quick buckets followed by a Lofton three and suddenly the Bonnies had their largest lead at 39-34.

Ryan Daly, the A-10's leading scorer along with Rhode Island's Fatts Russell in conference play, answered with a three following a timeout, but Winston found Osunniyi for a rim-rocking dunk before another trey from Winston pushed the lead back to seven.

Another Daly trey got the Hawks back within four with 16:47 remaining, but it would be as close as Saint Joseph's would get the rest of the way.

Back-to-back threes from Welch gave the Bonnies their first double-digit lead, 55-42, and the lead would stay in double figures to the finish.

Daly matched his conference season average with 21 points to lead the Hawks (4-20, 0-11), but it was not nearly enough to stop a Bonaventure train that shot nearly 57 percent during the second half including 8-of-16 from distance.

GAME NOTES

  • Winston posted his 10th double-figure scoring effort of the season. Winston's previous high in scoring was a 19-point effort in a win over Rutgers in Toronto back in November.
  • Dominick Welch has now delivered at least one three-pointer in 22 of 25 games this season.
  • Welch handed out a career-high seven assists, topping the six helpers he had in a December win over Niagara.
  • Bona held a 24-7 rebounding advantage after halftime and finished +8 for the night, 38-30.
  • Saint Joseph's made only nine field goals during the second half, going 9-for-28.
  • The Bonnies drained 13 three-pointers on the night.
  • Alejandro Vasquez had eight points off the bench.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT
"One of my biggest concerns going into this game was the "trap" game, overlooking them after the big win against Duquesne and looking ahead to Davidson on ESPN2 Friday night. We came out without any energy, one offensive rebound in the first half. We just didn't play well. At halftime I told them, we can't waste the great effort that we had against Duquesne and the opportunity to make Friday a big game. They showed great character and they fought."

"We were so wide in the first half, we weren't in the pack line. They were just driving, 20 points in the paint at halftime. We made the adjustments we needed to in the second half."

"Justin was terrific. We couldn't have played better in the second half. If we're going to beat Davidson on Friday we have to play better for 40 minutes."

"Kyle is our best defender. But we don't want him to waste energy and get in foul trouble early. He did a really good job in the second half."

"AJ played well, hit some big shots. The two freshmen were critical for us, especially to keep us in it during the first half."

UP NEXT
The Bonnies return home for a highly anticipated battle vs. Davidson Friday night at the Reilly Center. The 7 p.m. tip time will be featured live nationally on ESPN2 as part of the Atlantic 10 Friday Night Showcase. That contest is slated to be a "White Out" with fans asked to wear their white Bonnies shirts. Tickets remain available for Friday's game and are available at GoBonnies.com/Tickets or by calling (716) 375-2500.

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