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Bonnies Take Down Bucknell in Defensive Slugfest

St. Bonaventure defeated Bucknell 67-61 tonight. The Bonnies outlasted the Bison in a turnover-filled, sloppy, defensive game in the Reilly Center. Bucknell’s Jack Forrest led all scorers with 18 points while the Bison’s Ian Motta notched 12. Moses Flowers and Mika Adams-Woods were tied for the team lead in points with 16 apiece. Charles Pride’s 11 points made him the only other player in double figures. The teams combined for 29 total turnovers including 17 from Bucknell.

The game began with both offenses ice cold. Bucknell started 1/9 from the field as the Bonnies opened the game by missing their first 10 shots. Jack Forrest had the only bucket, a three, in the first 6:06 of the game. Daryl Banks III got the Bonnies on the board after six minutes, knocking down one of two free throws. Pip Ajayi immediately answered the Banks free throw with an and-one on the other end.

Barry Evans continued his strong start to the season as he made St. Bonaventure’s first field goal of the night. Ajayi knocked down a pair of free throws on the next possession and the offenses were finally off and running. Now it was Bonaventure’s turn to turn up the scoring. Chad Venning made a turn-around hook before Charles Pride cashed in a three to tie the game at eight apiece.

The offenses would go scoreless for a little over the next two minutes of clock time before Forrest broke the drought with a mid-range. Flowers and Evans would immediately answer the Bison. Flowers knocked down a three before Pride swiped the ball from Josh Bascoe, leading to an Evans dunk. Bucknell’s seven-footer, Noah Williamson, was fouled in the paint by Noel Brown and made both his free throws. The offenses continued to hum as Flowers and Josh Adoh traded threes. Bonaventure led 16-15 at the under-eight media timeout.

Pride knocked down a pair of free throws on the other side of the media timeout to give the Bonnies a three-point lead. After five more empty possessions, Bascoe knocked down a jumper to cut the lead back to one. Flowers answered Bascoe with his third three of the night before the Bison once again punched back. This time it was with an Ian Motta three. Assa Essamvous and Rout Bijiek traded buckets as the game hit the final media timeout of the first half. The Bonnies led 23-22.

Assa potted a pair of free throws on the other end of the break to start a 9-2 Bonaventure run. The Bison then committed their 10th turnover of the half, leading to an Adams-Woods lay in on the other end. Pride knocked one down from beyond the arc before Adams-Woods cashed in another transition layup. Motta ended the Bonnie run as he drove into the lane and laid one in. The Bonnies would get the last look of the half but came up empty. St. Bonaventure led 32-26 at the break.

Moses Flowers led all scorers at the half with nine points while Pride followed close behind with eight. Bucknell was led by Forrest’s seven points while Motta and Ajayi had netted five each. The shooting was subpar for both sides in the first half. Bucknell shot 8/22 (36.4%) from the floor and 3/12 (25.0%) from three. The Bonnies were 11/28 (39.3%) from the field while knocking down 5/14 (35.7%) from beyond the arc. St. Bonaventure outrebounded the Bison 14-13 at the half while Bucknell had committed 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

The second half opened like the first began: slow and sloppy. The only points of the first four minutes came via an Ian Motta three pointer. The Bonnies finally broke through 4:04 into the second half with a bucket inside the paint. Pride followed Venning’s bucket with a three to give Bonaventure their largest lead of the night. Forrest countered with a jumper on the other end before Flowers notched a pair of free throws to push the lead back to eight. The Bison continued to hang around as Quin Berger cashed one in from beyond the arc. Assa tipped in a Banks miss before Forrest answered again with a layup of his own. The Bonnies led by five with just under 12 minutes remaining. Mota continued to hit big shots for the Bison as he knocked down his third from beyond the arc to cut the lead down to two.

Bonaventure responded right back and showed offensive life for the first time in the half. Adams-Woods knocked down a three before Evans got the steal on the other end. That led to a Banks transition triple. Evans then forced another steal which led to a Venning layup, and an 8-0 Bonnies run. Forrest splashed one from beyond the arc for the Bison but was quickly answered by another Adams-Woods three and Venning layup. The Bonnies were on a 13-3 run and led 54-42. Bucknell head coach John Griffin then took a timeout to try to stop the bleeding.

Venning immediately picked up his fourth foul of the night out of the media timeout. Noah Williamson hit one of his two free throws. Noel Brown relived Venning for about a minute before head coach Mark Schmidt opted to play some small ball. With Bucknell’s seven-footer on the bench, Schmidt had Adams-Woods, Banks, Pride, Assa and Evans on the floor. Defensively, the group allowed a Bijiek layup, free throws from Bascoe and Motta and a three to Bijiek. Offensively, Evans cashed in a three and Adams-Woods drove to the hole for a layup. The Bonnies led 58-50 with under three minutes remaining in the game.

Schmidt elected to get even smaller following the final media timeout, replacing Assa with Flowers. He would reward his coach by hitting a three on his first offensive possession back in the game. Bascoe answered swiftly on the other end to push their deficit back to single digits. Flowers tried again on the other end but missed the jumper. Forrest grabbed the board and was fouled by Evans. He made both his free throws to cut the Bonnie lead back to seven. Flowers once again answered the Bison but would end up trading buckets as Bascoe hit a jumper on the next possession.

The Bison then turned up the pressure, doubling Banks who was inbounding the ball. Bucknell forced the turnover but was unable to capitalize. Banks grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. He missed the front end of the one-and-one which turned into a Williamson three. The Bison cut the lead to four. Adams-Woods would be the next to shoot his free throws. He made both. The Bonnies played solid defense over the next 13 seconds and conceded a Forrest layup. Adams-Woods would add two more points to make the final score official. St. Bonaventure took home the 67-61 victory.

The Bonnies were 23/56 (41.1%) from the field while going 10/28 (35.7%) from beyond the arc and 11/13 (84.6%) from the free throw line. Bucknell shot 20/46 (43.5%) from the field, 9/24 (37.5%) from three and 12/15 (80.0%) from the charity stripe. St. Bonaventure outrebounded Bucknell 31-24 while Bucknell had 17 turnovers compared to the Bonnies 12.

In his postgame interview, Coach Schmidt praised Barry Evans and Moses Flowers. “Barry was great tonight and we needed that,” said Schmidt, “Moses came off the bench and gave us a lift. We really needed that in the first half when we weren’t scoring.” The 17th year head man also emphasize the team’s need to improve offensively. “We aren’t playing good offense right now, so our defense needs to step up and it did tonight,” said Schmidt.

St. Bonaventure moves to 3-2 on the season while Bucknell drops to 2-5. The Bonnies will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 2:00 as the Miami (OH) Red Hawks come to the Reilly Center.


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