By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies didn’t have the performance they wanted at George Washington on Saturday. They trailed for much of the contest, turned the ball over eight times in the first half, were forced to play 18 minutes without Kyle Lofton and allowed 28 points to one Colonials player.
In the end, however, Bona “found a way,” as coach Mark Schmidt likes to say. Similar to the La Salle game, the outcome wasn’t truly decided until the final minute.
Their first game of March followed the month’s theme: Survive and advance. Lofton’s absence was mitigated by a classmate, the Colonials scored just three points in the last three minutes and SBU got out of the nation’s capital with a 64-58 victory.
The win, coupled with George Mason and Dayton losses this weekend, puts the Bonnies in a tie with Dayton for third place and a game ahead of Mason for the fourth seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Dayton holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Bonaventure after its double overtime win in the Reilly Center on Jan. 19.
Takeaways from SBU’s sixth straight win.
Player of the Game: Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure. Osunniyi achieved a career-high 18 points, including 10 points in the last 8:05. Those baskets included the layup that tied the game at 50 with 8:05 to play, tying and go-ahead free throws with 5:39 remaining, a layup off an offensive rebound to put the Bonnies up 56-53 with 4:32 left and a tip-in to extend the advantage to 58-53 at the 3:35 mark. The freshman was clutch on the offensive glass, grabbing seven offensive rebounds and 16 boards total, for his fourth career double-double.
Osunniyi has scored 56 points and grabbed 65 rebounds during the six-game win streak.
Honorable mention: Maceo Jack, George Washington (28 points, including five three-pointers and 11 free throws), LaDarien Griffin, St. Bonaventure (11 points, seven rebounds)
Stat of the Game: Bona made just five of its 22 three-point attempts, marking its seventh win this season with five made three-pointers or fewer. Last year’s team also won seven games in which it made five or fewer three-balls.
Stretch of the Game: Osunniyi’s play down the stretch sealed the game, but the Bonnies were in need of an energy lift down six with 15:37 left and down a starting point guard. Lofton was whistled for his fourth foul and sent to the bench and the Bonnies were very upset with the call. Griffin responded by throwing down a fast-break dunk to cut the deficit to four, then stole a pass on the next possession and dunked again to make it a two-point game.
The dunks capped an 8-0 run for SBU and GW called timeout. The Colonials would recover for the moment and score the next five points, but the energy was back with the St. Bonaventure squad, thanks to the senior forward.
Quote of the Game: The Bonnies won their sixth straight road game, their first ever six-game road win streak in conference. “Wow. That says something,” Mark Schmidt told Gary Nease in his WPIG postgame interview. “We struggled early, (but) the guys found a way. They understand how we win… 64 points, if you’re talking about that last year, you’d go eh. But the way we’re playing, it’s blue-collar, it’s in your face and it’s not pretty, but it’s getting the results we want.”