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Lofton's Game-Winner Sends Bonnies Past A-10 Preseason Favorite Richmond, 69-66

Kyle Lofton hit the game-winning 3 with 2.8 seconds remaining. (Photo by: Keith Lucas / Richmond Athletics)
Kyle Lofton hit the game-winning 3 with 2.8 seconds remaining. (Photo by: Keith Lucas / Richmond Athletics)
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Box Score (PDF)

RICHMOND, Va. – Those who follow the St. Bonaventure men's basketball program know how good Kyle Lofton is.

Anyone who watches the program with any regularity appreciates the skill of the junior point guard and where he already stands in the long list of talented guards in program history.

Yet, despite being fresh off First Team All-Conference honors last year, Lofton has flown under the radar a bit to begin 2020-21. When the season began, he was named Preseason Second Team All-Conference in a head-scratching decision by the league's coaches.

Everyone around the Atlantic 10 took notice again Saturday night, though, as the third-year captain coldly drained a straightaway three with 2.8 seconds remaining to knock off Richmond on the road, 69-66.

As CBS Sports Network analyst Chris Walker said immediately after Lofton's game-winner swished through the net, "take that."

It gave the Bonnies their first marquee win of the season, moving to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in A-10 play in the process, as they defeated the preseason conference favorites – a Richmond squad that before Christmas was nationally ranked.

Lofton finished with 16 points despite playing with foul trouble, also handing out three assists. Prior to the game-winner, the best performance of the night quite possibly came from someone who was questionable to play earlier in the day. Jaren Holmes, limited to under two minutes of action Wednesday at Rhode Island due to a back injury, had his best game of the year with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Dominick Welch narrowly missed a double-double by posting 11 points and nine rebounds while Osun Osunniyi finished with seven points and 13 boards.

The opening minutes were tightly contested, but the Bonnies held the Spiders at arm's length for much of the first 20 minutes. St. Bonaventure stretched its lead to six twice including 27-21 late in the half before Richmond rallied back to take a 35-33 edge to intermission when Blake Francis knocked down a three just before the buzzer.

Bona shot 45 percent from the floor during the first half, but just 1-of-9 from distance. That quickly changed after halftime, though, as Welch and Holmes each drilled threes in the first 90 seconds of the second half to push ahead.

Another three from Holmes gave the Bonnies a 48-42 lead with 15 minutes to go and the game remained with a small favor to the visitors for nearly the entire second half.

Things threatened to derail, though, when Lofton was forced to the bench at the 8:15 mark and the Bonnies ahead by just two. He returned three minutes later and the score still was showing a two-point Bona margin as the two squads matched each other step for step.

Lofton free throws pushed the Bonnies ahead, 66-63, with 1:24 to play before Nathan Cayo worked to the line for two and a one-point difference 20 seconds later. A turnover sent the ball back to Richmond and a foul put Grant Golden at the stripe. He made the first, but missed the second, allowing Osunniyi to pull down his most important rebound of the night.

Following a Bonaventure timeout with 14 seconds left, Lofton took the ball up court and kept the ball off a staggered screen before knocking down the game-winner.

Blake Francis led all scorers with 21 points for the Spiders (7-3, 1-1). Cayo registered 12 points and 10 rebounds and Jacob Gilyard finished with 13 points.

GAME NOTES

  • The Bonnies were +9 on the glass, holding a 38-29 rebounding margin.
  • Bona won the battle of points in the paint for the fourth straight game, 34-32.
  • Anthony Roberts celebrated his 21st birthday Saturday.
  • Bona avoided an 0-2 start in conference for the first time since 2012-13.
  • Holmes has two strong efforts against the Spiders under his belt – he also netted 17 points in a home win against them last year.
  • Bonaventure extended its winning streak over Richmond to five straight games and six of the past seven. It was just their fourth win at Richmond in 13 trips, however.
  • Richmond received votes in this week's AP Top 25 poll.
  • Lofton moved into 46th place all-time in Bona scoring with 990 career points.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT
"Kyle wants the ball in his hands, he wants to hit the big shot. He's a big-time player and you want the ball in his hands at the end of the game."

"Jaren is just a tough player. We play him at the 1, 2 and the 3; he's a glue guy who makes all the tough plays. He's a big part of our team and we missed his toughness at Rhode Island. He's unselfish; he's all about the team. He makes winning plays when you need them. He's going to do anything he can to help the team be successful."

"From a defensive standpoint, I thought we did a good job. Golden is the key. We tried to double him and did a good job for the most part on rotating, keeping them in front and making them earn their points."

"Today shows a lot of character. We had a difficult game at Rhode Island. We didn't play well. The guys really handled the adversity and learned from their mistakes. They responded and that's what you like to see.

UP NEXT
The Bonnies host their A-10 home opener Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. vs. Saint Joseph's.

 

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