Schmidt and Bonnies wary of snake-bitten Dukes

(Photo: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)

By PAUL GOTHAM

With four regular-season games remaining, Mark Schmidt’s St. Bonaventure Bonnies (18-7/10-4) hold a coveted top-four spot in the Atlantic 10 standings. Bona’s quest for a bye to the conference quarter-finals will continue when they look to return the favor against the Duquesne Dukes (15-12/5-9) Wednesday night at the Reilly Center.

“They beat us down there earlier in the year,” Schmidt said referring to Duquesne’s 95-88 victory on January 16th. “We couldn’t control their guards. They’re really talented. A team that’s really, really dangerous, so we got play our A-game. If we expect to win.”

The loss snapped SBU’s four-game streak to start conference play and improved Duquesne to 2-2. The Dukes later ran their to record 5-3 before dropping their last five games heading into Wednesday’s game. A stretch which includes three setbacks by a combined 12 points and another loss in overtime.

“They’re a little bit snake-bitten in the last five games,” Schmidt noted.

Led by Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, Duquesne shot 32-of-61 (52.5) from the floor when they beat Bona in the first meeting between the long-time rivals. Mason, who has scored 20 or more in his last six games, led the way with 27 points. Colter scored 23 and handed out nine assists.

“Mason might be playing the best of anybody in the league right now,”  He’s shooting the ball at a high percentage. Playing with a lot of confidence. Colter, he runs the show.”

The duo combines to score more than 35 a game.

“They can shoot from behind the arc. They can take guys off the bounce. Sometimes you look at Mason, and you think he’s just a catch-and-shoot guy, but he’s just as effective going off the bounce. Colter is somebody that can do both.”

Bona’s “Big Three” of Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg/5.1 apg), Marcus Posley (18.4 ppg/3.6 apg) and Dion Wright (16 ppg/8.9 rpg) continue to lead the way, but Duquesne’s Jim Ferry knows better.

“It’s more than that,” Ferry said. “Denzel Gregg is playing fantastic. Nelson Kaputo and Idris Taqqee are playing well. They play with such confidence and the ball moves. They play off each other. It’s very, very difficult.

“You got to figure out how to contain those guys. You got to guard them as a team. You got to be really tight with your ball-screen defense. You got rebound misses because when they do miss, you got to make sure they don’t get second-chance opportunities.”

The Bonnies have won six of seven including a 79-72 road triumph over then No./15/13 Dayton on Saturday – only Bona’s second win at the Ohio school and first in more than a decade.

“They’re just playing great basketball right now,” Ferry said. “They play the right way. Schmitty’s got them playing with great confidence.”

Wednesday’s contest will the 116th meeting in a series dating back to 1920. Duquesne has a 59-56 edge, but the Bonnies have claimed six of the last eight meetings.

“Obviously, going to be a real tough environment up there,” Ferry added. “It’s always a hard place to play. It’s a hard place to be in. We’re going to have to go in there and try to grind one out.”

Bona has played at a pace of 75 possessions or fewer in its 10 conference wins.  Duquesne likes a pace of 75.5 including 81 trips up and down the floor in their previous win over the brown and white.

The Bonnies have two wins over top 50 RPI teams (Dayton and Saint Joseph’s) as well victories over three top 100 teams (George Washington, Davidson and Ohio U).

Posley needs 22 points to surpass the 1,000 for his career at St. Bonaventure.

Wright needs 26 rebounds to move into the top 20 in program history.

The top four teams in the Atlantic 10 advance to the quarter-finals. St. Bonaventure finished fourth in 2012 when the Bonnies took the A-10 title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

A 7 p.m. tip is scheduled. The game will be televised locally on Time Warner. Fans outside of New York can stream the game live here.

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