St. Bonaventure defeated Akron 62-61 this afternoon. The Bonnies jumped out to a 10-point first-half lead in an early game of runs before carrying a six-point advantage into halftime. Akron came out of the locker room on fire and took its first lead since the opening minutes. The Bonnies would fight back as the contest shifted to a back-and-forth affair. In the end, Mika Adams-Woods’ contested jumper proved to be the winner in an instant classic. Here’s how it all went down.
The game got off to a slow start this afternoon as both offenses looked sluggish early. Both teams came up empty on their first two possessions. Akron’s Greg Tribble eventually opened the scoring as he knocked down a mid-range jumper. The Bonnies would finally get on the board after missing their first six attempts with Venning scoring in the paint. The Zips immediately answered with Ali Ali sinking one from range. Barry Evans added a layup, and the game went to its first media timeout with Akron holding a 5-4 advantage.
The Bonnies came out of the break with its bench weapon: Moses Flowers. The redshirt senior cashed his first triple of the night to give Bonas their first lead of the game. Sammy Hunter answered on the very next possession with a mid-range. Noel Brown then put his name on the scoresheet with a pair of free throws before Enriqe Freeman finally made himself heard with a slam.
St. Bonaventure then began to build themselves a lead, Kyrell Luc cashed in from the elbow before Venning went back to work down low. Hunter knocked down a three on the other end before the Bonnies opened a 9-0 run. Banks began the onslaught with a three before Venning hit a jumper on the next possession. Evans added a pair of free throws before Flowers added a baseline floater. The Bonaventure run ended when Tribble netted a pair of free throws. The Bonnies led 22-14 with just under 6:30 remaining in the first half.
Evans continued to make his impact felt as he forced a steal and poked the ball up the court. He finished his complete play with a two-handed slam to push the lead back to 10. The Zips then began to fight back. Ali knocked down threes on back-to-back possessions to cut the Bonnie lead down to four. Shammah Scott then got to the line for Akron, knocked down both free throws and stretched the Zip run to 8-0. Akron continued the run as Ali flushed one of two free throws and cut the lead to one.
Luc finally ended the scoring drought with a floater before grabbing a steal and slamming it home. The defense came up with a quick stop and got the ball to Luc once again. He would miss a layup, but Assa Essamvous followed the shot well and put the ball back up for two. This prompted Akron head coach John Groce to call his first timeout as the Bonnies were suddenly on a 6-0 run.
The timeout worked as Ali knocked down a jumper. Schmidt then took his use-it or lose-it timeout which led to two more points from Venning. Ali made one of two free throws on the next possession which would be the final points of the first half. The teams went to the locker room with the Bonnies leading 32-26.
Akron’s Ali Ali led all scorers after the first 20 minutes with 13 points. Venning led the Bonnies in scoring at the break with eight points while Evans and Luc followed close behind with six points apiece. Both Flowers and Hunter had tallied five points at the half. The Zips shot 8/22 (36.4%) from the field, 4/11 (36.4%) from deep and 6/9 from the free throw line. The Bonnies shot 13/32 (40.6%) from the floor, 2/8 (25.0%) from beyond the arc and a perfect 4/4 from the charity stripe in the first half. St. Bonaventure outrebounded Akron 19-13 (including 7 offensive rebounds) in the first 20 minutes while only turning the ball over three times compared to Akron’s six.
The Zips leading scorer opened the second half scoring with his second dunk of the game. However, the Bonnies punched right back with Pride getting to the hole for two. The Zips then went on a quick 7-0 run to pull back into the lead. Freeman and Nate Johnson netted threes before Johnson added a free throw. Schmidt pulled out a triple substitution bringing Flowers, Assa and Luc back into the game. Flowers immediately came through with a corner three to put the Bonnies back on top. Bonaventure led 37-35 at the under-16 media timeout.
The Zips countered immediately following the timeout as Hunter grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked to Johnon who found a wide-open Scott under the hoop for two. The Bonnies then turned the ball over which led to a Kaleb Thorton steal and bucket. Venning answered with some silky footwork and a score on the next possession to re-tie the game. The scoring continued to be back and forth as Tribble and Admas-Woods traded buckets. It was Admas-Woods’ first points of the game with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. The teams eclipsed the 12-minute mark tied at 41.
Charles Pride came through with a huge and-one bucket in the lane following the media timeout to put the Bonnies back in front. Freeman then grabbed an offensive board off a missed three from Ali. He missed his and-one free throw before Brown made a layup. The redshirt junior then added another bucket with a nice pick-and-roll to the rim. Brown would then be called for a mystery flagrant foul on Freeman. He would make both free throws before forcing another and-one layup. He made his free throw this time to tie the game at 48.
The Bonnies responded by getting to the free throw line. Venning hit one of two before Adams-Woods snagged a layup on the next possession. The graduate transfer would follow his layup with a big three a few possessions later. The Bonnies were on a 6-0 run. The run would end on the very next trip down the floor as Ali made a tough jumper. Flowers was fouled on the next possession here he would hit one of two. Venning then came up with a steal and then threw down a monster, one-handed slam. The Bonnies were suddenly up seven. However, the Zips once again refused to go away. Ali knocked down his fourth triple of the game before Johnson laid one in to cut the lead back to two. Mark Schmidt would take the timeout.
After a pair of empty possessions, Assa got himself to the rim and drew the foul on Hunter. He made both his free throws before Ali knocked down another mid-range. Venning then worked his way to the stripe and found one of two free throws. The Bonnies led 6-57 with two minutes remaining. The teams went just over a minute scoreless before Tribble’s layup cut the Akron deficit to one. The Zips locked up on defense, forcing a forced mid-range from Pride. Assa then fouled Scott in the backcourt, sending him to the line.
Scott made both of his free throws putting the Zips up 61-60 with under 25 seconds left. The Bonnies had the ball with the opportunity to take the last shot of the game. The Zips continued to play smothering defense before Adams-Woods took an extremely contested shot which he made to put St. Bonaventure up 62-61. Akron took their final timeout with less than nine seconds left. Evans knocked the ball into the backcourt on the inbound which blew up whatever the Zips had drawn up. He continued to hound the ballhandler, Ali, and received late help from Venning around the three-point line. Ali chucked up a prayer that came nowhere close to going in. The Bonnies won the game 62-61.
Ali led the game in scoring with 20 points while Freeman tallied 14 of his own. Venning led the Bonnies ins coring with 14 points. Adams-Woods and Flowers tallied nine points while Tribble and Brown had eight points each. The Zips shot 21/48 (43.8%) from the floor, 7/21 (33.3%) from beyond the arc and 12/19 (63.2%) from the free throw line. The Bonnies shot 24/63 (38.1%) from the field, 4/15 (26.7%) from deep and 10/13 (76.9%) from the charity stripe. St. Bonaventure outrebounded Akron 39-32 including 16 offensive boards. The Zips turned the ball over 12 times compared to the Bonas’ seven.
The Bonnies improved to 9-3 on the season while Akron dropped to 8-4. With today’s win, St. Bonaventure picked up a high quadrant-three victory. That win has the chance to end the season as a quadrant-two win if Akron continues to win games in conference play. The Bonnies will be back in action Wednesday for the first game of Atlantic 10 play. Wednesday’s game will be at Virginia Commonwealth at is scheduled to tip at 9:00 p.m.