Bonnies Start Fast, Finish Strong To Open Season 2-0

Jalen Adaway slams home a dunk during Saturday's win. (Photo by: Craig Melvin)
Jalen Adaway slams home a dunk during Saturday's win. (Photo by: Craig Melvin)
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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Just over a year ago, the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team dominated from start to finish in a win over Hofstra on its home court, and for the first 25 minutes Saturday afternoon it seemed to be en route to a similar finish at the Reilly Center.

It would take a Bonnies rally in the final minutes, though, to turn away a valiant comeback effort from the Pride and finish off a 77-69 win to move to 2-0 on the season.

Kyle Lofton led the Bonnies with 16 points, adding nine assists, while Dominick Welch (15 points, eight rebounds) and Osun Osunniyi (14 points, 12 rebounds) provided strong contributions as well.

Things could not have started much better for the Bonnies.

The home squad connected on 10 of its first 18 attempts from the floor while limiting Hofstra to an ice-cold 3-for-17 start on the way to a 27-7 advantage in the first 10 minutes.

Jaren Holmes dropped a three from the wing at the 9:23 mark of the half to complete the resounding game-opening run at 30-7.

Hofstra (3-3) would respond by chipping its way back into the game over the next several minutes, getting within 39-28 with two minutes left in the half.

Another Holmes trey, this time coming from the corner just before the shot clock buzzer, pushed the lead back to 14 and the Bonnies would take a 43-28 cushion to intermission.

A sluggish start to the second half allowed the Pride to quickly close to a 10-point deficit before perhaps the game's most impressive play. Newcomer Jalen Shaw, a junior college transfer, stole away a Hofstra pass and then went coast-to-coast with a Euro step finish for a 51-37 lead.

Unlike a year ago when the Bonnies soared to victory in the second half, this time the Pride would not go away.

A 12-2 run from the visitors brought Hofstra back to within one-possession, 55-52, with still 11 minutes to play. A three from Jalen Ray completed the comeback, tying the game at 55-all three minutes later as the Bonnies' cold snap continued.

A block from Osunniyi led to a Lofton layup to break the tie, but Ray drained another three on the next trip down the floor for Hofstra's first lead, 58-57, and, after an Osunniyi hook shot, Tareq Coburn got in the three-point act with a trey of his own for a 61-59 edge.

Hofstra's lead grew to five with six minutes left, 64-59, before Alejandro Vasquez stemmed the tide with a three in front of the Bona bench. A pair of free throws from Osunniyi tied the game when Welch pushed the Bonnies back in front with his third shot from three-point land on the day for a 69-66 score with 3:21 remaining.

The Bonnies would never relinquish the lead again, outscoring Hofstra 18-5 over the final 5:45.

A pull-up jumper from Lofton extended the advantage back to two possessions before a pair of thundering dunks from Osunniyi, the second off an alley-oop from Jalen Adaway, put the game on ice.

Bona shot nearly 45 percent from the floor for the game while limiting Hofstra to 39 percent. The Bonnies owned a comfortable cushion on the boards as well, 48-33.

Ray paced all scorers, netting 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting for Hofstra, hitting six of his 10 three-point attempts. Isaac Kante finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Coburn, a former Bonaventure guard, had nine points and two assists on 2-of-10 shooting after entering the game averaging over 20 points per contest.

The Bonnies return to action Tuesday afternoon against Buffalo on home court with opening tip scheduled for 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT

"It was a tale of two halves. We got off to a great start, we attacked their zone really well; we were defending. You knew they were going to come back, but I didn't know they were going to outscore us by 27 at one point. The positive was when they took the lead, our guys collected themselves and didn't hang their heads. They fought back and became more aggressive. They dealt with adversity and made plays at the end. I'm proud of the effort. We have a long way to go; we got flat at times. It's just different with no crowd. There's really no momentum. We beat a good team and we accomplished our goal of being 2-0."

"It's good to have a veteran team in those types of situations. We got tentative in the second half and they were making threes, but I was proud of how we finished."

"We had 19 assists, 11 turnovers, we outrebounded them by 15, so there were a lot of positives in our effort. We aren't in great shape yet, we haven't practiced all that often. I'm proud of the mental toughness of our guys to come back after they took the lead. Our guys really handled it well."

GAME NOTES

  • It took the Bonnies just a handful of minutes to surpass its Tuesday total from beyond the arc (1-14). Saturday, SBU went 7-of-16 from long range.
  • Lofton registered nine of Bona's 19 total assists, two off his career-high of 11.
  • Adaway posted nine points and five rebounds, also drawing four Hofstra fouls. Holmes added eight points and nine boards in 32 minutes of action.
  • Osunniyi produced the 12th double-double of his Bonnies career, going 6-of-11 from the floor and also adding two assists and two blocks for a team-best +14 plus/minus rating.
  • The Bonnies led for 34:27 of game time after leading for over 39 minutes in Tuesday's win.
  • Bona starts the season at 2-0 for the first time since 2013-14.
  • After Saturday's win, the Bonnies now own a 6-1 edge all-time in games vs. the Pride.
  • The Bonnies were again dominant inside, owning a 46-30 margin with points in the paint.
  • Bona's star junior trio of Lofton, Osunniyi and Welch combined for 45 points.
  • Saturday marked the first time in 54 years of games at the Reilly Center that the Bonnies played before zero fans. Attendance was limited to game staff and limited media members due to state and University COVID-19 safety protocols. 

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