By Paul Gotham
St. BONAVENTURE, NY — There was no chance the St. Bonaventure Bonnies could get caught looking ahead. With a date looming against nationally-ranked North Carolina State, the Bonnies took care of the matter at hand Wednesday night.
A quintet notched double figures each as the St. Bonaventure Bonnies thumped The Citadel, 97-57 in non-conference action on Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center.
Eleven players tallied as the Bonnies posted season highs in field goal percentage (56.5 percent 35-for-62), three-point percentage (55.6 10-of-18), assists (26), steals (13), points and field goals made (35).
“It was a good victory against a team that we were picked to beat,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We tell the guys all the time that you show respect by going out there and giving a great effort, and we did that.”
The Bonnies shot 62 percent in the first half to grab a 15-point lead at half.
“This was a tough game from a coaching standpoint,” Schmidt added. “You go into it. You’re supposed to win. You’re always concerned that the players aren’t taking them seriously. They read all the stuff. They see the line in the paper.”
Chris Johnson and Marquise Simmons led the way as Bona jumped to an early double-digit lead.
Charlon Kloof took a Johnson pass and nailed a three from the baseline to open the scoring. Johnson followed with a pull-up jumper also along the baseline.
After a pair of Matt Van Scyoc free throws, the Bonnies rattled off ten straight. Johnson drove across the lane and finished in traffic. On the next trip, the senior forward finished another in the lane. Matthew Wright found Simmons open under the basket for a lay-up and an 11-2 lead signalling a timeout from The Citadel bench.
But it was to no avail.
SBU’s defense created one of 12 first half turnovers committed by The Citadel. Wright caught a pass ahead of the defense and drew a foul going to the basket. Two charity tosses increased the margin to 11.
Wright and Simmons combined again on then next possession. With the front line of The Citadel defense stepping out to take away Bona’s long -range game, Wright alertly zipped a pass to Simmons under the basket for another deuce and a 15-2 advantage.
Michael Davenport came on and stretched the lead to 14 with a catch-and-shoot three near the top.
The Citadel used the free throw line to trim the lead single digits. Ashton Moore curled off a screen and hit a jumper in the lane. Stephen Elmore connected twice at the charity stripe. Moore hit one of two on the next trip, and The Citadel trailed 27-18.
It was short-lived.
Simmons finished a drop step in the lane for two of his 11 first-half points. Jordan Gathers drained a three along the baseline. Johnson took an inside-out pass from Demitrius Conger for another trey. The Bonnies took their largest lead of the half, 43-28 at the buzzer when Conger hit a pull-up trifecta.
Eric Mosley scored seven straight to start the second half as the Bonnies ran their lead to 20.
Mosley hit a pair of free throws. The 5-10 guard took a Johnson pass and nailed a trey. On the defensive end, he intercepted an inside-out pass and went the length of the floor for the layup.
Mosley and Jordan Gathers came off the bench and combined for 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Bona bench outscored The Citadel’s second group, 44-9.
“Games like this, I say it all the time, you can get selfish and look for your own stuff,” Schmidt explained. “We didn’t do that.”
Both Mosley (7) and Gathers (6) posted career-high assist nights.
“We got a great effort from the bench,” Schmidt continued. “Jordan and Eric, forget about the points, they had 13 assists and zero turnovers.”
Conger and Johnson led with 16 points apiece.
Simmons added 15 with a game-high nine rebounds.
Mosley added 15.
Youssou Ndoye chipped in 10 points off the bench.
Mike Groselle led The Citadel with 14 points.
The Bonnies improve to 5-0 this season at the Reilly Center and have won seven straight dating back to last season. Having defeated Cleveland State, 87-53 on Saturday, SBU put together 30-point triumphs in consecutive games for the first time since the 1969-70. Hall-of-famer Bob Lanier paced the Bonnies to wins over Baldwin-Wallace (96-63) and Loyola, Md. (96-52).
Up next for the Bonnies is a date Saturday against NC State in Raleigh. The Wolfpack is ranked No. 25 (AP). A 3 p.m. tipoff is slated from the PNC Arena.