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Osunniyi Has Career Day For Bonnies

Osun Osunniyi had a career-high 25 points to lead St. Bonaventure past Akron at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on Tuesday. Photo by Scott Eddy | St. Bonaventure Athletics

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The setting was definitely different.

At times the setting of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, seemed cavernous and eerily silent with just a smattering of friends and family in attendance.

And, along with the odd surroundings, there was also the fact that 283 days had passed since the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had last competed in a real game.

The Bonnies showed little rust, though, in an 81-74 victory over Akron on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m proud of our effort with all the challenges we have had since the Atlantic 10 Tournament was canceled last year and having to quarantine,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “I thought the kids came out excited to play and the veterans got us out to a great start.”

St. Bonaventure’s Jaren Holmes had 9 points for the Bonnies in a victory over Akron at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on Tuesday. Photo by Scott Eddy | St. Bonaventure Athletics

Junior Osun Osunniyi poured in a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, adding eight rebounds and three assists. Dominick Welch posted 18 points and four assists while Kyle Lofton chipped in 17 points and five assists.

“We were active defensively and we did a decent job on (Cristian) Jackson. We made baskets when we needed them and got decent stops,” Schmidt said. “Osun did a good job inside and Kyle did a good job handling the ball. I thought Eddie Creal did a great job coming in for us and doing that blue-collar work. It was a good victory against a very good Akron team.”

Bona seized control in the first minutes of the game, embarking on a quick 8-2 run before stretching its lead to nine. The distance between the Bonnies and Zips remained around that total for much of the second part of the opening 20 minutes, with some stellar defense helping to grow the advantage.

A steal and dunk from Jaren Holmes pushed the advantage to nine, and another steal led to a three-point play for Welch and a double-digit lead for the first time, 30-19, with 5:30 to play before halftime. Ultimately, the Bonnies took a 36-25 edge to intermission.

The Bonnies continued to add to their margin out of the locker room, stretching ahead 50-33, before Akron began to chip away. Reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Loren Cristian Jackson brought the Zips within single digits, 54-45, with still 9:45 remaining. Lofton responded with a bucket off the glass on the other end, though, to kick the lead back to 11.

The margin remained between nine and 11 points for several minutes, but each time Akron appeared prime to make a run, the Bonnies would get a bucket to quell the charge. A Holmes-to-Osunniyi feed for a layup underneath pushed the Bona lead back to 10 with just over five minutes to play, and from there the Bonnies never truly relinquished control.

“Our guys were excited to play. They were sick of practicing and hearing me yell all the time. From a mental standpoint, they just needed to play a game,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t know how it was going to go but I knew the kids were excited to play. We still have a lot of things to get better at. Our goal as coaches and players is to get better and better to peak at the end of the year.”

Jackson led Akron (1-1) with 22 points and seven assists.

The Bonnies (1-0) return to action Saturday vs. Hofstra at 2 p.m. in the team’s home opener.

“Our goal when we started this thing back in August was to be 1-0 after the first game,” Schmidt said. “We have a long way to go. I thought it was a good win after dealing with what we had to deal with.”

NOTES: Tuesday marked the latest start to a Bonnies season since opening the 1975-76 campaign on Dec. 16, 1975. … Entering this week, the Bonnies were one of 23 Division I teams yet to play a game this season. … Bona picked up a win inside an NBA venue for the second consecutive regular season. The Bonnies defeated Rutgers last November in Toronto’s ScotiaBank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors. … Holmes finished with nine points and three assists. … Two Bonnies, Creal (4 points, four rebounds) and Jalen Shaw made their Bonaventure debuts. … St. Bonaventure shot 46 percent from the floor including 57 percent in the second half (15-26) while Akron shot at a 40 percent clip. … Bona was +7 in the turnover margin (17-10) and Akron held a 41-36 edge on the boards. … Tuesday was Akron’s first game against a Division I opponent after also going through a two-week pause due to virus concerns last month. The Zips, picked third in the MAC and coming off a 24-win season, defeated Division II Cedarville on Saturday at home.

ST. BONAVENTURE (81)

Osunniyi 10-15 5-9 25, Adaway 3-5 0-0 6, Holmes 4-9 1-4 9, Lofton 5-10 7-8 17, Welch 6-13 5-5 18, Creal 2-5 0-0 4, Vasquez 0-5 2-2 2, Winston 0-2 0-0 0, Shaw 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-65 20-28 81.

AKRON (74)

Ali 4-7 0-0 9, Dailey 1-11 0-0 3, Reece 6-8 0-0 12, Jackson 7-17 6-6 22, Tribble 2-3 2-2 6, Freeman 2-3 3-3 7, Marshall 0-3 9-10 9, Trimble 0-4 0-0 0, Dawson 2-4 0-0 6. Totals 24-60 20-21 74.

Halftime–St. Bonaventure 36-25. 3-Point Goals–St. Bonaventure 1-14 (Welch 1-6, Holmes 0-1, Osunniyi 0-1, Vasquez 0-1, Winston 0-2, Lofton 0-3), Akron 6-32 (Dawson 2-4, Jackson 2-9, Ali 1-4, Dailey 1-8, Marshall 0-3, Trimble 0-4). Fouled Out–Ali. Rebounds–St. Bonaventure 29 (Osunniyi 8), Akron 33 (Marshall 9). Assists–St. Bonaventure 15 (Lofton 5), Akron 10 (Jackson 7). Total Fouls–St. Bonaventure 17, Akron 24. A–150 (19,432).

BUFFALO 90, MIAMI (OHIO) 62

OXFORD, Ohio — Jeenathan Williams had 21 points as Buffalo romped past Miami (Ohio) 90-62 on Tuesday.

Jayvon Graves had 13 points and seven rebounds for Buffalo (3-2, 1-1 Mid-American Conference). David Nickelberry added 12 points.

Isaiah Coleman-Lands had 12 points for the RedHawks (3-2, 0-1). Mekhi Lairy added 10 points.

BUFFALO (90)

Fagan 2-2 0-0 4, Williams 9-15 1-2 21, Bertram 1-1 0-0 2, Graves 4-10 4-6 13, Segu 3-5 0-0 9, Nickelberry 3-6 5-8 12, Brewton 2-8 2-2 8, Hardnett 2-2 0-0 4, Mballa 2-7 4-4 8, Gallion 1-2 0-1 2, Skogman 2-3 1-2 7, Bivens 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-61 17-25 90.

MIAMI (OHIO) (62)

Ayah 1-6 0-0 2, Beck 2-5 4-4 8, Brown 3-11 0-0 8, Grant 2-6 0-0 4, Lairy 3-7 3-3 10, Coleman-Lands 4-12 2-2 12, Brewer 3-5 0-0 7, Ames 1-1 2-3 4, McNamara 1-5 0-0 2, Jovic 0-1 0-0 1, Eller 2-3 0-0 4, Etzler 0-1 0-0 0, White 0-1 0-0 0, Tatum 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 22-65 11-13 62.

Halftime–Buffalo 47-28. 3-Point Goals–Buffalo 11-26 (Segu 3-4, Skogman 2-2, Williams 2-4, Brewton 2-7, Nickelberry 1-1, Graves 1-4, Gallion 0-1, Mballa 0-3), Miami (Ohio) 6-26 (Coleman-Lands 2-7, Brown 2-8, Brewer 1-3, Lairy 1-3, Etzler 0-1, Jovic 0-1, Tatum 0-1, Grant 0-2). Fouled Out–Grant. Rebounds–Buffalo 43 (Graves 7), Miami (Ohio) 29 (Brewer 6). Assists–Buffalo 17 (Williams 4), Miami (Ohio) 12 (Lairy, Brewer 3). Total Fouls–Buffalo 17, Miami (Ohio) 21.

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