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Ferocious Second Half Rally Lifts Bonnies Past VCU, 70-54

Kyle Lofton works to the bucket for a layup during Wednesday's win. (Photo by: Steve Harrison)
Kyle Lofton works to the bucket for a layup during Wednesday's win. (Photo by: Steve Harrison)
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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – At halftime Wednesday night, VCU was seemingly off to a convincing victory over the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team, one like it had picked up in each of the past two years.

So, anyone who might have turned off the national television broadcast at intermission and returned late in the second half was in for a massive surprise.

The Bonnies (7-1, 5-1 Atlantic 10) used an incredible last 20 minutes – what head coach Mark Schmidt described as his team's best half out of any during his 14-year tenure with the program – to take down the Rams, 70-54.

Dominick Welch delivered a season-best 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting including 5-of-6 from distance. Jaren Holmes added 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals while Kyle Lofton checked in with 12 points and three assists.

Down by 15 at the break, the Bonnies outscored VCU 45-14 in the second half, limiting the Rams to just 5-of-26 from the floor.

It was a complete turnaround: VCU (10-4, 3-2) took control during a first half where they used 13 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points to seize control. The Rams also swatted seven Bonnies shots in the first half.

After halftime, though, the Bonnies owned a 22-14 margin on the boards, a 24-4 advantage in the paint and did not allow a single second chance point.  

The Bonnies launched a 16-0 run to completely change the complexion of the game – a break that would extend to 22-5 as the hosts pulled ahead, 51-48, at the 11:20 mark with their first lead since 2-1.

It was the type of run where one really noticed the lack of crowd noise with games played without fans in attendance as the Bonnies put on a dunk show with the tandem of Osun Osunniyi and Jalen Adaway.

On a night in a regular year, the Reilly Center would have been roaring. Instead, the Bonnies brought the energy themselves as they erased the disappointing first 20 minutes.

A three-pointer from Vince Williams tied the game, 51-51, but a free throw from Lofton and a bucket in the lane from Holmes following his offensive rebound pushed the Bonnies back in front with 9:38 left.

The Bonnies would never trail again.

Adaway and Welch combined for back-to-back buckets to push the margin to six and the game remained within two possessions until the 4:24 mark as another 6-0 Bona break gave the hosts their largest lead to that point, 65-54, following Lofton free throws with 2:50 to play.

By that point, the Bona defense had completely locked down VCU. The visitors went without a point over the final 5:38 as the Bonnies capped off the comeback.

Nah'Shon Hyland led VCU with 16 points while Williams was the team's only other double-figure scorer with 11 points.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT

"Give VCU credit, they killed us in the paint in the first half. We didn't do a good job against their press and consequently, we were down 15 at halftime. We challenged the guys at halftime and if you have character guys, guys who are competitors, they're going to respond. We couldn't have played better in the second half. To hold that team to 14 points, that's a credit to our guys. I'm really proud of what they did in that last 20 minutes."

"It's hard to simulate what VCU does in practice. I didn't think it was going to take 20 minutes, but it took time to get accustomed to it. We started being more aggressive and getting a lot of things off our defense. We have competitive guys and I think they were a little embarrassed about how they played in that first half. The first four minutes of the second half was critical, just to get some momentum and go from there."

GAME NOTES

  • Bona has limited its opponents under 55 points in three straight games and is allowing just 57 points per game in six A-10 contests, best in the conference.
  • St. Bonaventure has its second-best start to Atlantic 10 play in program history. Only the 1983 squad had a better start (6-1). The program joined the conference, then known as the Eastern 8, in 1979-80.
  • Overall, the team's 7-1 start is the program's best since an 8-1 beginning to the 2000-01 campaign. 
  • SBU shot 15-for-27 during the second half.
  • The Bonnies owned a 36-20 advantage in the paint and has outscored its opponent in the painted area in all eight games this year.
  • Adaway finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists. Osunniyi recorded nine points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks in an all-around effort.
  • The Bonnies avenged blowout losses in each of the past two years vs. VCU and improved to 5-6 against the Rams all-time and 3-3 at the Reilly Center.

UP NEXT
The Bonnies will travel to the Steel City to play Duquesne Saturday night at 7 p.m. in a game staged on campus at LaRoche University. That game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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