Courtesy of GoBonnies.com
DAYTON, Ohio – At Dayton’s UD Arena, the student section is called the Red Scare.
Friday night, it was St. Bonaventure that did the scaring, putting the nationally-ranked Flyers on red alert before No. 21/19 Dayton pulled away in the waning seconds, 76-71.
The Bonnies led by as many as seven during the second half and the game was all even with 7:22 to play.
From there, though, the Bonnies saw the Flyers embark on a game-changing 9-0 run over a four-minute span to take control.
Even with the Bonnies down double digits under three minutes to play, they refused to go away.
A corner trey from Moses Flowers made it a one-possession game, 72-69, with 21 seconds remaining.
DaRon Holmes II did it all Friday night and fittingly he capped off the game’s final rally with two free throws and a dunk to put the game out of reach, finally.
Holmes, who is on the shortlist for several national player of the year awards, was as advertised with a game-best 34 points along with seven boards. He went 10-of-15 from the floor and 13-17 at the foul stripe.
The Bonnies (13-8, 4-5 A-10) weathered an early storm – and cold snap on the offensive end.
Despite not scoring their first points until the 14:31 mark of the opening period, the visitors trailed by just nine at the game’s second media timeout.
At one point, Bona made eight consecutive field goal tries and, after starting the game 3-for-16 from the floor, the Bonnies finished the half 11-for-14 and seized the lead at the buzzer on a fall-away bucket from Adams-Woods.
That momentum stretched through the intermission as a traditional 3-point play from Venning, followed by a trey at the shot clock horn by Pride gave Bona a seven-point edge, 38-31.
Some of Bona’s roll was stifled, though, as Venning was whistled for his third foul and forced to the bench following his and-1.
The cushion wouldn’t last long as Dayton quickly brought its sold-out crowd to fever pitch once again with a 9-0 run to re-take the lead.
Each time it seemed as though Dayton was ready to fly, though, the Bonnies brought them back to earth.
Two triples off the fingertips of Daryl Banks III pushed SBU back in front, but Dayton raced out by two possessions again only to see two more three-balls go through the net from Assa Essamvous for an even score, 54-54, with 7:22 to go.
Unfortunately for the Bonnies, Essamvous’ second trey would be the last points for the visitors until his putback over four minutes later. By then, it was a 63-56 score with just over three minutes left.
During that span, Bona was forced to go small as both Brown and Venning picked up their fifth fouls.
With Bona’s bigs out, Holmes was able to fully take advantage.
Dayton’s lead grew to 10, but the Bonnies wouldn’t quit – Adams-Woods drained two threes in succession to close within four with a minute left.
Bona got the ball back with that margin, but a costly turnover handed the ball back to Dayton where the Flyers ultimately converted on two free throws for breathing room.
Still, Flowers’ three gave the Bonnies one last gasp as the seconds ticked away.
Forced to foul, the Bonnies sent Holmes to the line where he converted both tries. He then blocked a three from Adams-Woods and closed the game with a dunk. Enoch Cheeks also had 13 points for Dayton (18-3, 8-1).
St. Bonaventure returns home to play its next two contests, beginning with a Wednesday night date vs. UMass at 7 p.m.