Bonnies fire from deep, roll past GW
ST. BONAVENTURE — For the first part of this season, skeptics didn’t consider St. Bonaventure a 3-point shooting team.
You can safely cross that off as a criticism of the Bonnies now.
Mark Schmidt’s team went 15 of 29 from 3-point range with six different players making at least one shot from long range in an 88-41 Atlantic 10 victory over George Washington on Friday evening at the Reilly Center.
“Our guys deserve to make those shots. Those guys are always in the gym. Go to class, come to the Reilly Center. They work their tails off,” Schmidt said. “We were missing them early in the season, but it wasn’t because we weren’t in the gym working at it. … They can all shoot the ball.”
Reserve A.J. Vasquez led the Bonnies with 18 points, including five 3-pointers, in just 21 minutes of action while Jaren Holmes also scored 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“A.J. is an incredible basketball player. He’s as good as any of us,” Kyle Lofton said. “He can start on this team or any team in the A-10. … Today he just showed what he’s capable of. All credit to him.”
The win moves St. Bonaventure to 13-3 overall on the season, including 11-3 in A-10 play. Temporarily, the Bonnies stand alone in first place pending VCU’s visit to Davidson this afternoon.
“We have mature guys and we know what it takes. We were in situations like that last year and we let up a little bit,” Holmes said. “We’re older now and we’re more mature. … We know what we have to do and we’re going to do it.”
St. Bonaventure, which has already clinched a double-bye in next week’s conference tournament, can wrap up the regular-season title and No. 1 seed with a victory Monday night over Dayton back at the Reilly Center.
“We can’t worry about anybody else. You just have to take care of your business,” Schmidt said. ” … We control our own destiny. … Even though it’s the last game of the regular season, we prepare the same way.”
Friday’s game was never in doubt.
The Bonnies went ahead 19-6 less than nine minutes into the first half on Jalen Adaway’s lone 3-pointer of the game. By that point, Dominick Welch already had three of his four 3-pointers and Lofton also had one. Osun Osunniyi also had a dunk in the 11-0 run.
Welch’s final 3-pointer of the opening 20 minutes carried St. Bonaventure into halftime with a 42-21 lead. The Bonnies shot 17 of 31 (54.8%) from the field, including 8 of 14 (57.1%) from 3-point range during the first half.
And they kept it going.
Jamison Battle made a jumper to open the second half for the Colonials before St. Bonaventure went on another 23-6 run capped by a Vasquez 3-pointer.
“When you get up by 20, the goal is by the next timeout you want to be up by 30. When you get up by 30, the goal is, then next four minutes, you want to be up by 40,” Schmidt said. ” … At halftime we were up by 21 … and we wanted to go from 21 to 31. … We were up by 30 and making the extra pass. That’s what makes me really, really happy.”
Down the stretch, Schmidt finally got to rest four of his starters and reward Vasquez, Eddie Creal, Jalen Shaw and Alpha Okoli with minutes off the bench.
“Those guys work their tails off. They haven’t played as much as they want to play,” Schmidt said. ” … I can’t play everybody, but in situations like that they deserve to get those minutes. … It was really good to see.”
Creal converted a layup from Lofton, Vasquez dazzled with a spinning move through the lane that ended in a layup and Okoli scored his first 5 points of the season, including a 3-pointer, in just his second appearance.
“Alpha is one of my best friends here. I see everything behind closed doors,” Lofton said. ” … He doesn’t give up. He’s with me every day in the gym. He’s a hard worker regardless of the situation he’s in.”
“Alpha is probably the most genuine and most respectful guy I’ve ever met. … He helps me every single day. He helps me keep my confidence,” Holmes added. “A lot of people don’t see what we see … but he’s probably the best guy and has the best attitude on this team. He’s the glue that keeps us together on this team.”
Lofton’s 10th assist of the game on a Jaren Holmes lay-in with 6:32 remaining was the 400th of the junior point guard’s career, moving him within one of David Vanterpool for eighth on the all-time St. Bonaventure list.
“Best point guard in the league,” Holmes quipped when informed of the stat.
Now the Bonnies will shift their focus to Monday’s game against the Flyers (12-8, 8-7) when they’ll have an opportunity to lock up their third ever A-10 regular-season championship and first since 2015-16.
“We’re on a mission right now,” Holmes said. “We’re completely locked in as a team and as a family.”
NOTES: Lofton’s 33 minutes were his fewest minutes since last Jan. 11 when he played 31 in a 64-44 win over Fordham. … The Bonnies’ 47-point margin of victory was one off the program record of 48 against Maryland Eastern Shore in 2017. It was their largest A-10 win ever.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (41)
Lindo Jr. 3-10 0-0 6, Battle 4-9 2-2 10, Dean 1-2 0-2 2, Ball 1-5 1-2 3, Bishop 2-7 2-2 6, Brelsford 2-5 0-0 6, Paar 0-3 2-2 2, Brown 1-2 2-5 4, Leftwich 1-2 0-0 2, Gally 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-46 9-15 41.
ST. BONAVENTURE (88)
Adaway 5-7 0-0 11, Osunniyi 4-6 0-0 8, Lofton 5-12 0-0 12, Welch 5-8 0-0 14, Holmes 7-13 2-3 18, Creal 1-2 0-0 2, Okoli 2-2 0-0 5, Vasquez 6-10 1-2 18, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-60 3-5 88.
Halftime–St. Bonaventure, 42-21. 3-point goals–George Washington 2-13 (Lindo Jr. 0-2, Battle 0-2, Ball 0-2, Bishop 0-3, Brelsford 2-4), St. Bonaventure 15-29 (Adaway 1-1, Lofton 2-6, Welch 4-6, Holmes 2-6, Creal 0-1, Okoli 1-1, Vasquez 5-8). Rebounds–George Washington 23 (Brelsford 4), St. Bonaventure 35 (Osunniyi 8). Assists–George Washington 7 (Dean 2, Bishop 2), St. Bonaventure 22 (Lofton 10). Total fouls–George Washington 6, St. Bonaventure 11.