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Lofton Hits 1,000

Junior Guard Reaches Milestone In Bonnies’ Victory At Fordham

St. Bonaventure’s Kyle Lofton sets up the Bonnies’ offense during Wednesday afternoon action at Fordham. Photo courtesy of Robert Cole | Fordham Athletics

BRONX — Kyle Lofton earned his spot in the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball record book and the Bonnies continued their strong start to the uneven 2020-21 season with a 68-54 win during Wednesday matinee action at Fordham.

Lofton became the 45th 1,000-point scorer in program history, surpassing the milestone with a layup at the 19:36 mark of the second half, and fellow junior Jaren Holmes remained red-hot. Holmes paced all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and now has posted 64 points over the past two games. Lofton, meanwhile, checked in with 14 points and six assists. Jalen Adaway just missed a double-double, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.

In a game that seemed ripe for a defensive battle, it was an offensive display of sorts in the opening half.

Fordham entered the game averaging less than 50 points per contest through their first four games while the Bonnies were one of the nation’s best at defending the perimeter, ranking 13th in the country while limiting opponents to just over 25 percent shooting beyond the arc in five games.

The Bonnies and Rams engaged in a bit of a track meet during the first 20 minutes, though, with both teams opening up two-possession leads at times while the Rams sank seven 3-pointers. Holmes, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, put up 17 points while Osun Osunniyi handed out a career-high five assists before break as the teams went to intermission tied, 37-37.

St. Bonaventure’s Dominick Welch puts down a slam dunk for his only field goal during Wednesday afternoon’s Atlantic 10 game at Fordham. Photo courtesy of Robert Cole | Fordham Athletics

“It was a battle, but I thought our guys refocused at halftime and did a really good job defensively. They hit some tough shots, some contested shots in the first half. I thought we did a better job in the second half; we changed defenses and played some zone to try and keep them off balance,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We knew they were one of the better defensive teams in the Atlantic 10 and our guys met that challenge. That team beat Dayton and almost beat Duquesne and we knew it would be a challenge.”

Lofton made his Bonnies history early in the second half, taking a feed from prep teammate Osunniyi for a driving layup to register points 1,000 and 1,001 in his collegiate career.

“Kyle is a really good player, a tremendous competitor. He’s our leader. To score 1,000 points in a little more than two years tells you all you need to know. But he shares the ball, he’s the ultimate point guard, he defends,” Schmidt said. “I’m sure he is happy to get to 1,000 points, but I’m sure he’s happier that we won the game.”

St. Bonaventure (5-1, 3-1 Atlantic 10) would never trail again, though the Rams never fully went away.

A quick five-point burst gave the Bonnies some breathing room at 51-43 following a Lofton jumper with 14:12 to play and the lead extended to nine, 56-47, three minutes later. Fordham proved pesky, however, quickly trimming its deficit back to five and remaining within single digits until Holmes effectively put the game on ice with his 3-pointer off an assist by Lofton for a 66-54 cushion, the largest of the day to that point, with 1:50 remaining.

“Jaren isn’t forcing things, it’s coming in the offense. He kept us in the game during the first half. He is really important to our team and you saw how we struggled without him at Rhode Island,” Schmidt said. “Jalen Adaway played really well; even though Dom (Welch) struggled offensively, he had two really big rebounds and was big for us on the boards. We need everyone to be successful.”

Bona’s defense clamped down during the second half, especially from distance as the Rams went just 2 of 13 from long range after halftime following their torrid start. In all, Fordham (1-4, 1-4) shot a mere 27 percent (6 for 22) from the floor in the second period.

The visitors simply dominated the boards, outrebounding Fordham by a 43-24 margin. Bonaventure proved to be efficient distributors — one game removed from a 27-assist effort, the Bonnies handed out 20 assists on 24 made field goals, paced by several tremendous looks presented by Osunniyi who led the way with seven helpers.

Joel Soriano powered Fordham with 12 points and 10 rebounds, though he fouled out after 25 minutes of action.

NOTES: Lofton finished the day with 1,008 career points. In 71 career games he has not tallied a field goal just twice — last January at Fordham and this past Wednesday vs. Saint Joseph’s. He also has at least one assist in every career game. … Holmes has scored at least 17 points in three consecutive games. Prior to that, he had reached 17 or more points four times in his first 26 games with the program. … Holmes sank five of seven 3-point attempts. He entered the day ranking second in the A-10 by shooting over 52 percent from distance. … Osunniyi’s previous best of four assists came in two previous games, most recently last February vs. Richmond. … Bona began the day averaging 12 offensive rebounds per game, second in the A-10, and hauled in 15 boards on the offensive glass Wednesday. … At 5-1, the Bonnies have their best start to a season since 2014-15 when they started 6-1. … The Bonnies have won 10 straight and 16 of the last 17 games over Fordham since 2010. Though the in-state rivals usually play a home-and-home series, Wednesday’s game is the only scheduled game between the two teams this season.

UP NEXT: The Bonnies have a quick turnaround as they will face Duquesne on Friday night at the Reilly Center. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. on national TV with a broadcast set for ESPN2.

ST. BONAVENTURE (68)

Osunniyi 0-4 3-4 3, Adaway 4-5 6-8 14, Holmes 10-16 1-2 26, Lofton 6-14 1-1 14, Welch 1-7 3-4 5, Vasquez 2-7 0-0 4, Creal 1-2 0-0 2, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 14-19 68.

FORDHAM (54)

Soriano 6-9 0-0 12, Austin 4-11 0-0 10, Butler 2-5 1-1 6, Cobb 3-8 1-2 9, Rose 3-10 2-3 11, Eyisi 0-0 1-4 1, Navarro 2-5 0-0 5, Raut 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 5-10 54.

Halftime–37-37. 3-Point Goals–St. Bonaventure 6-21 (Holmes 5-7, Lofton 1-6, Vasquez 0-3, Welch 0-5), Fordham 9-31 (Rose 3-8, Cobb 2-5, Austin 2-7, Navarro 1-3, Butler 1-4, Raut 0-4). Fouled Out–Soriano. Rebounds–St. Bonaventure 39 (Welch 14), Fordham 23 (Soriano 10). Assists–St. Bonaventure 20 (Osunniyi 7), Fordham 14 (Cobb 5). Total Fouls–St. Bonaventure 14, Fordham 18.

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