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Bonnies Open Up Atlantic 10 Play at Rhode Island Wednesday

ST. BONAVENTURE (2-0, 0-0) at RHODE ISLAND (3-5, 0-1)
Wednesday, Dec. 30 - 4:00 p.m.
Kingston, R.I.
TV: ESPN+
Radio: Bonnies Basketball Radio Network
Online Coverage: Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio 
Complete Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP
The Bonnies open up Atlantic 10 play - and finally say goodbye to 2020 - with a trip to Rhode Island Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday's game starts a challenging back-to-back road swing at URI followed by a journey to Richmond on Jan. 2. 

GAME NOTES

  • The Bonnies are 2-0 for the first time since the 2013-14 season following wins over Akron (Dec. 15) and Hofstra (Dec. 19). Both of those teams have postseason aspirations: the Zips are the reigning MAC regular season champs while Hofstra won the CAA crown last year and began this year as the preseason favorites, winning at Richmond Dec. 22.
  • Bona's last 3-0 start was also 2013-14 when the Bonnies opened with home wins vs. South Dakota, Abilene Christian and Canisius.
  • Bona will open Atlantic 10 play undefeated for the first time, though their unblemished non-conference schedule included just two games. The Rhode Island game will come after an 11-day layoff after yet another game that was scrapped due to virus concerns before the holiday break when the game vs. Buffalo slated for Dec. 22 was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test result within Buffalo's Tier 1 personnel. That was the sixth game of the year canceled because of virus concerns - three when the Bonnies went on pause Nov. 19 (Towson, Stephen F. Austin, Army) and three others due to issues with an opponent (Vermont, St. Francis (PA), Buffalo).
  • Osun Osunniyi has averaged 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in the first two games of the season including a career-high 25 points Dec. 15 vs. Akron and a double-double effort of 14 points and 12 rebounds against Hofstra.
TRENDING NUMBERS 
1 – Say what you want about small sample size, but as of Dec. 23, the Bonnies ranked No. 1 in the national RPI.
6 - St. Bonaventure has had as much bad luck with regard to virus concerns as any team in the nation this year. With six canceled games, the Bonnies are tied with James Madison and Fordham for most in the nation thus far.
10.9 – The Bonnies posted 10.9 turnovers per game during A-10 play last year, ranking third in the league (Richmond and Davidson, 10.8).
21 – Osun Osunniyi ranked 21st nationally in blocks per game last year.
+36 – The Bonnies are +36 in points in the paint during their first two games after outscoring Akron, 56-36, and Hofstra, 46-30.
38 – Dominick Welch had 38 offensive rebounds during A-10 play, most of any Bona player last year in conference action.
41 – Kyle Lofton shot 41 percent from beyond the arc during A-10 play last year.
119 – Dominick Welch hit three 3-pointers in the Dec. 19 win over Hofstra, including the shot that put the Bonnies ahead for good late in the second half. He passed both Zarryon Fereti '08 (117) and Eric Mosley '13 (118) on Bona's career 3-pointers chart with 119 during his career thus far and now stands 14th in Bonnies history. Next up is Shandue McNeill '97 who sank 126 treys.
283 – Bona's season-opening win over Akron on Dec. 15 came 283 days since their last game action (March 7 at Saint Louis in last year's regular season finale).  
648 – Jalen Adaway returned to the court in the season-opener Dec. 15 for his first Division I game action in 648 days after playing two seasons at Miami (OH) and sitting out last year as a transfer.
961 – Kyle Lofton enters the game with 961 career points and has at least one assist in every game he has played during his Bonaventure career.
 
SERIES HISTORY
St. Bonaventure has traditionally struggled in the nation's smallest state, going 2-10 all-time inside the Ryan Center and without a road win at Rhody since 2013. The two teams have alternated wins over the last four meetings, though, with the Bonnies' last win over the Rams coming in the 2019 Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals in Brooklyn. St. Bonaventure also defeated a nationally-ranked Rams squad at home on Feb. 16, 2018. 
 
Previous Meeting
Rhode Island 81, St. Bonaventure 75 (1/25/20)
Playing without sophomore center Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure battled one of Atlantic 10's top teams in Rhode Island to the wire in front of a sold out Reilly Center. In the end, though, the Rams threw the final blow to take an 81-75 victory.
 
The contest saw just six lead changes and four ties, though it felt like the momentum swung many more times.
 
Bona took a 40-35 edge to intermission after leading for 14 minutes of the opening half.
 
Five Bonnies finished in double figures led by Lofton's 15 points while Dominick Welch and Jaren Holmes each had 14 points. Freshmen Justin Winston (12) and Alejandro Vasquez (11) recorded strong efforts as well.
 
Fatts Russell paced all scorers with 29 points. Cyril Langevine posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
 
A-10 OPENERS
St. Bonaventure has been one of the top programs in the Atlantic 10 over the past several years and part of that has been an ability to often start off strong in A-10 play. Bona has won six of its past seven A-10 season openers, including road wins in that span at UMass ('14-15 and '16-17) and GW (last year). The lone loss during the past seven years to start conference play came two years ago at George Mason. The Bonnies have not started A-10 play against Rhode Island since the 2004-05 season. 
 
This year will be the third straight season that the Bonnies have started A-10 play on the road.
 
ABOUT RHODE ISLAND
The Rams not only have played eight times but they have already opened A-10 play as well, dropping a home contest to Davidson, 67-58, in their last action back on Dec. 18, one day before the Bonnies last played. 
 
Rhode Island opened the season with four games in "Bubbleville," where the Bonnies were also supposed to open before going on pause. There, URI battled No. 18 Arizona State before falling by six and also lost by five to Boston College before defeating USF (84-68) and San Francisco (84-71). The Rams' signature win thus far was a Dec. 2 home triumph over Seton Hall, 76-63, before falling on the road at No. 13 Wisconsin (73-62) and one of the nation's top mid-majors in Western Kentucky (68-65). 
 
Rhode Island excels in getting to the line, ranking ninth in the nation in free throw attempts while standing 12th in free throws made, but their 68 percent success rate at the charity stripe is just 204th nationally. 
 
Senior Fatts Russell, named to the Naismith Player of the Year Watch List, leads the team in many categories and is among the A-10 leaders in free throw attempts and made along with minutes (first), steals (fourth) and total assists (fifth). Antwan Walker stands eighth in the league on the boards (7.2 rpg)  while he and Makhel Mitchell are both in the league's top seven for blocks. 
 
OSUNNIYI NAMED BIG 4 PLAYER OF THE WEEK - DEC. 22
St. Bonaventure junior center Osun Osunniyi has earned Big 4 Player of the Week honors after a standout first week of action that keyed a 2-0 start for the Bonnies men's basketball team.
 
Osunniyi averaged a double-double for the week with 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds after standout stat lines in both games. In the season-opener vs. Akron, he scored a career-high 25 points with eight rebounds and three assists during 36 minutes of action. Saturday against Hofstra, he posted the 12th double-double of his Bonnies career with 14 points and 12 rebounds, adding two blocks and two assists.
 
The impressive performances came against two strong non-conference opponents: Akron won last year's Mid-American Conference regular season title while Hofstra captured the Colonial Athletic Association championship and is the preseason favorite to retain that championship.
 
Big 4 players consist of student-athletes from St. Bonaventure, Buffalo, Canisius and Niagara.
 
NEXT UP
The Bonnies continue their tough start to A-10 play by traveling to preseason conference favorites Richmond on Saturday, Jan. 2. Game time is set for 5:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. 
 
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