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Bonnies Win Seventh Straight, Set Best A-10 Start in Program History in Win Over George Mason

Osun Osunniyi dunks during Saturday's win as part of an 18-point, 15-rebound performance. (Photo by: Scott Eddy)
Osun Osunniyi dunks during Saturday's win as part of an 18-point, 15-rebound performance. (Photo by: Scott Eddy)

Box Score (PDF)

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The St. Bonaventure men's basketball team joined an exclusive group of past teams by matching its best start since 1971, moving to 9-1 overall and with a sparkling 7-1 mark in conference play after a convincing win over George Mason, 84-67, Saturday afternoon at the Reilly Center.

This year's Bonnies matched the 1970-71 group, the last Bona team to open a season 9-1 or better, with a victory that was never truly in doubt.

And, while joining some of the best starts in program history, the Bonnies wrote their own bit of history Saturday by improving to 7-1 in conference play, the best A-10 open to a season for Bona basketball. The win also ran SBU's winning streak to seven straight.

At the heart of Saturday's victory, just like with much of the program's success in recent years, was the outstanding trio of Kyle Lofton, Dominick Welch and Osun Osunniyi. The three junior stars combined for 60 points on the day.

Welch led all scorers with 22 points, tying a career high, connecting on nine of his 11 shot attempts. Lofton checked in with 20 points and five assists while Osunniyi produced an outstanding double-double effort of 18 points and a season-best 15 rebounds.

Mason (8-7, 4-5) hit the first bucket of the game – a 3-pointer from Javon Greene, but the Bonnies responded with an 11-0 run as the Patriots went scoreless for nearly five minutes.

Bona would stretch its run to 19-2 over a 6:25 span that saw the Bonnies set the tone for the day. Mason would get within 23-14 before the hosts expanded the lead to 20, 39-19, with a trey from Welch 2:30 before the half.

During the opening 20 minutes, the Bonnies shot a scorching 68 percent from the floor (19-for-28) while holding the Patriots to a chilly 29 percent (10-35).

Welch nearly had his career-best scoring output by intermission, heading to the locker room with 18 points. He drained all seven of his shot attempts during the first half, including four treys.

The Patriots tried to chip their way back into the game, getting within 65-54 with still 8:33 remaining.

Jaren Holmes helped quiet the rally effort on the next trip down the floor, depositing a three off an assist from Lofton and then, following a defensive stop, worked his way to the line for two free throws and a 16-point lead.

From there, George Mason never threatened.

Holmes gave the Bonnies a fourth double-figure scorer as he finished with 14 points and four assists.

Jordan Miller paced the Patriots with 19 points.

The Bonnies shot 61 percent from the floor for the day, easily the best mark of the season for the team.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT

"I thought Osun was the catalyst in the first half. We made an emphasis to get the ball to him early and often and he played really well. He almost had a double-double by halftime. He was aggressive, more assertive. That's what we need from him. Dom was a huge key the way he was shooting the ball and had some great offensive rebounds. We defended really well and we outrebounded a team that is much bigger than us by 11. It was a good performance, we just have to get better defensively. The three-point shooting in the second half, we have to do a better job defensively."

"The defense was really good in the first half; the game was won in the first half. The offense was a little better today and we got the ball inside, got the ball to the basket. We try to own the paint and we're getting better at it."

"We're lucky to have a veteran team that can turn the page quickly from game-to-game. We have to continue rolling with the flow of this season and any further schedule changes that happen. We're just happy to play. We were supposed to play Davidson today and when we found out things were changing, we went with the flow. The biggest letdown would not be playing at all. The players don't care who they're playing, they just want to play."

GAME NOTES

  • The Bonnies now officially have their best Atlantic 10 start in program history. They entered the day tied with the 1982-83 squad which opened 6-1. The Bonnies joined the A-10, then known as the Eastern 8, in the 1979-80 season.
  • Bona's last 9-1 start came in 1970-71. Prior to that, the Bonnies opened 12-0 in 1969-70 and went 23-0 during the 1967-68 regular season.
  • Bona dominated inside despite a size disadvantage, owning a 48-24 margin with points in the paint. The hosts also won the battle of the boards, 38-27.
  • Welch equaled his previous career-high of 22 points, matching last year's total at Fordham. Saturday was the most Welch has scored in a regulation-length game, though, as last year's Fordham game went to overtime.
  • Osunniyi marked his 13th career double-double. The 18 points are his fourth-most in a game during his Bonnies career and second-best this year.
  • The Bonnies defense allowed over 61 points for the first time since Jan. 2 at Richmond, a stretch of five games.
  • SBU completed a perfect month of January, going 7-0 during the month.
  • Bona has its second straight season with a seven-game winning streak. The program's last winning streak that was longer was a 13-game stretch during 2018.
  • SBU improved to 36-8 when the trio of Lofton, Osunniyi and Welch have been available for the full game dating to Feb. 12, 2019. 
  • The last time the Bonnies shot better from the floor than Saturday's 61.4 percent effort (35-57) was in a Nov. 20, 2017 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore (61.5 percent).

UP NEXT
The Bonnies head to Philadelphia for a Wednesday evening date at Saint Joseph's. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m.

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