Osunniyi's Career Afternoon Leads Bonnies To Win In Return To Action

Box Score (PDF)

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The setting was definitely different.

At times the environment of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, seemed cavernous and eerily silent with just a smattering of friends and family in attendance.

And, along with the odd surroundings, there was also the fact that 283 days had passed since the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team had last competed in a real game.

The Bonnies showed little rust, though, in an 81-74 victory over Akron Tuesday afternoon. St. Bonaventure led for 39:41 of game action and never trailed.

Junior Osun Osunniyi poured in a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, adding eight rebounds and three assists. Dominick Welch posted 18 points and four assists while Kyle Lofton chipped in 17 points and five assists.

Bona seized control in the first minutes of the game, embarking on a quick 8-2 run before stretching its lead to nine. The distance between the Bonnies and Zips remained around that total for much of the second part of the opening 20 minutes, with some stellar defense helping to grow the advantage.

A steal and dunk from Jaren Holmes pushed the advantage to nine, and another steal led to a three-point play for Dominick Welch and a double-digit lead for the first time, 30-19, with 5:30 to play before halftime. Ultimately, the Bonnies took a 36-25 edge to intermission.

The Bonnies continued to add to their margin out of the locker room, stretching ahead 50-33, before Akron began to chip away. Reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Loren Cristian Jackson brought the Zips within single digits, 54-45, with still 9:45 remaining. Lofton responded with a bucket off the glass on the other end, though, to kick the lead back to 11.

The margin remained between nine and 11 points for several minutes, but each time Akron appeared prime to make a run, the Bonnies would get a bucket to quell the charge. A Holmes to Osunniyi feed for a layup underneath pushed the Bona lead back to 10 with just over five minutes to play, and from there the Bonnies never truly relinquished control.

Jackson led Akron (1-1) with 22 points and seven assists.

The Bonnies (1-0) return to action Saturday vs. Hofstra at 2 p.m. in the team's home opener.

GAME NOTES

  • Osunniyi surpassed his previous career high of 23 points set last February vs. Duquesne.
  • Lofton passed Charlon Kloof '14 (940) and Nick Urzetta '79 (944) in career scoring, moving into 53rd place in the program's record books with 945 career points. He also broke into the school's top 10 in assists with 318, passing Rob Lanier '90 who previously was 10th in SBU history with 316 helpers. 
  • Tuesday marked the latest start to a Bonnies season since opening the 1975-76 campaign on Dec. 16, 1975.
  • Entering this week, the Bonnies were one of 23 Division I teams yet to play a game this season.
  • Bona picked up a win inside an NBA venue for the second consecutive regular season. The Bonnies defeated Rutgers last November in Toronto's ScotiaBank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors.
  • Holmes finished with nine points and three assists.
  • Redshirt junior Jalen Adaway started and made his first appearance in a Bonnies uniform, 648 days since his last Division I game at Miami (OH). Adaway, who started and scored six points Tuesday, sat last year due to NCAA transfer rules.
  • Two other Bonnies, Eddie Creal (four points, four rebounds) and Jalen Shaw made their Bonaventure debuts as well off the bench.
  • St. Bonaventure shot 46 percent from the floor including 57 percent in the second half (15-26) while Akron shot at a 40 percent clip.
  • Bona was +7 in the turnover margin (17-10) and Akron held a 41-36 edge on the boards.
  • Tuesday was Akron's first game against a Division I opponent after also going through a two-week pause due to virus concerns last month. The Zips, picked third in the MAC and coming off a 24-win season, defeated Division II Cedarville on Saturday at home.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT

"I'm proud of our effort with all the challenges we have had since the Atlantic 10 Tournament was cancelled last year and having to quarantine. I thought the kids came out excited to play and the veterans got us out to a great start."

"We were active defensively and we did a decent job on (Cristian) Jackson. We made baskets when we needed them and got decent stops. Osun did a good job inside and Kyle did a good job handling the ball. I thought Eddie Creal did a great job coming in for us and doing that blue-collar work. It was a good victory against a very good Akron team."

"Our goal when we started this thing back in August was to be 1-0 after the first game. We have a long way to go. I thought it was a good win after dealing with what we had to deal with."

"Our guys were excited to play. They were sick of practicing and hearing me yell all the time. From a mental standpoint, they just needed to play a game. I didn't know how it was going to go but I knew the kids were excited to play. We still have a lot of things to get better at. Our goal as coaches and players is to get better and better to peak at the end of the year."

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