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Rhode Island Takes 63-57 Decision To Begin A-10 Play

Box Score (PDF)

KINGSTON, R.I. – The calendar year of 2020 hasn't been very enjoyable for most people – and it ended in a fitting fashion Wednesday afternoon for the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team in a 63-57 setback at Rhode Island.

Cold shooting, foul trouble, and a long layoff all hurt the Bonnies in their Atlantic 10 opener.

Kyle Lofton paced the team in scoring with 13 points, adding four steals, while Jalen Adaway (12 points, six rebounds) had his best statistical game in a Bonnies uniform. Osun Osunniyi registered eight points, four blocks and four steals, but was limited in the second half due to foul trouble.

The Bonnies (2-1, 0-1 Atlantic 10) shot 39 percent from the floor, and were hamstrung by 20 turnovers.

Newcomer Anthony Roberts made his Bonnies debut and immediately made an impact with a feed to Osunniyi which resulted in a monster dunk before the Detroit native drained a three for his first points and a 14-8 lead early.

For the most part, though, the first half was about what one might expect from a game between a pair of teams entering on layoffs of 11 and 12 days respectively. Neither team found much footing for any extended period of time with the Bonnies shooting just 37 percent and the Rams suffering 13 turnovers during the first 20 minutes.

Rhode Island (4-5, 1-1) pushed ahead with a 6-0 run over a 90-second span late in the half, but Lofton answered with a personal 5-0 break for a 25-24 edge. Just before the halftime buzzer, Lofton finished with a layup for a 29-27 advantage going to intermission.

The second half saw a disastrous start, however.

In addition to a cold snap that saw the Bonnies go over six minutes without scoring, Osunniyi was forced to sit after being whistled for a fourth foul while the Rams launched a 13-0 run.

Rhode Island used the second half sprint to jump out to a 40-29 lead before a quick six points from the Bonnies pulled the visitors back within five at the 12:45 mark.

The Bonnies found their groove with a 10-0 run and a trey from Alejandro Vasquez with 8:30 to play tied the game, 42-42, before a three-point play pushed the hosts back in front. A corner three from Dominick Welch off a pass from Vasquez tied the game again at 45-all with six minutes to go.

Already ahead by three, 52-49, with 3:47 left, the Rams picked up another big bonus when Osunniyi was whistled for his fifth foul.

Fatts Russell followed with a layup to stretch the lead to two possessions before a Jalen Shaw basket brought the deficit back down to three. A Shaw steal on the defensive end gave the ball back to the Bonnies, but a pair of turnovers on back-to-back possessions squashed any momentum.

Rhode Island pushed its lead to 57-51 at the one minute mark before a bucket from Shaw gave the Bonnies a final glimmer of hope. A Bona foul sent Russell to the line, though, and a pair from the Rams standout gave the hosts a 58-53 advantage with 41 seconds left and they would never relinquish control.

Jeremy Sheppard led all scorers with 17 points for Rhode Island while Antwan Walker added a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Bonnies did a solid job on Russell, a preseason favorite for A-10 Player of the Year for many, limiting him to nine points on 2-of-9 shooting, but he did hand out five assists.

GAME NOTES

  • Roberts was granted a transfer waiver from the NCAA and is eligible for this season and next season after playing the previous two years at Kent State. He was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Rookie Team and averaged 12.7 points per game last year. Roberts finished with eight points and four assists Wednesday.
  • The Bonnies have long struggled in the Ocean State, falling to 2-11 in the Ryan Center.
  • St. Bonaventure had previously won six of its past seven A-10 openers, last falling on the road at George Mason two years ago before ultimately reaching the conference championship game.
  • Junior Jalen Shaw saw his most extensive action, playing 13 minutes with Osunniyi sidelined due to foul trouble. He finished with four points, three rebounds and two steals.
  • The Rams held a 42-29 advantage on the boards, but like the Bonnies, struggled with turnovers, finishing with 24. Bona had a season-high 12 steals with Osunniyi and Lofton each swiping four apiece.
  • Bona entered the game +36 in points in the paint through the first two games and, despite the limited minutes from Osunniyi, still led, 34-32, in the painted area.

UP NEXT
The Bonnies remain on the road and open the New Year with a trip to Richmond Saturday at 5 p.m. That game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

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