ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The Duquesne Dukes walked into the Reilly Center as the Atlantic 10’s top-scoring team, averaging close to 76 points per game. Yet, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies stymied their offense for all 40 minutes, as the Brown and White prevailed over their longtime rivals, 65-56.
St. Bonaventure’s victory Wednesday improves their record to 4-2 in the Atlantic 10, just one game back of first place currently held by St. Louis, Dayton, and VCU, who all have a record of 5-1.
The Bonnies now sit at 10-9 on the year, with nine of those wins coming in the comfortable confines of the Reilly Center.
After Duquesne scored the opening basket, Yann Farell, the 6-foot-6 freshman from Gabon, hit a 3-pointer 93 seconds into the game to put the home team up 3-to-2. The Bonnies never looked back from there as they embarked on a 17-1 run over the next five minutes. Bona’s offense looked like the cream of the crop as the Reilly Center quickly turned into a sea of jubilation with the students back on campus.
St. Bonaventure’s Daryl Banks III, the 6-foot-4 junior guard from Somerset, New Jersey, loves playing on Bob Lanier Court. He averages over 20 PPG this season in St. Bonaventure’s ten home games. He finished with 15 points as he drained two 3-pointers over the first seven minutes to set the tone early. One of those makes came when Duquesne’s Dae Dae Grant fouled Banks III in the act of shooting. Although he failed to convert the four-point play, the Bonnies had all the momentum.
Farell’s early bucket was big too. He had not made a 3-point field goal since the Dec. 31 victory over UMass. His confidence had diminished, but it was rediscovered against Duquesne. Farell went on to make all three of his 3-point attempts.
With just over eight minutes left in the first half, St. Bonaventure’s Moses Flowers slammed home a thunderous dunk that put the home crowd on its feet. At this point, the Bonnies led 27-11, with no signs of looking back.
The Bonnies could not miss. By the time Flowers ignited the crowd, Bona had eight players who had scored a field goal. But more importantly, their defense looked terrific. They closed out on shooters, crashed the boards, and looked crisp in their defensive rotations.
Over the first 20 minutes, Duquesne shot 8-27 (29.6%) from the floor as no Duke could get into a groove. Meanwhile, the Bonnies drained 15 field goals, shot 62.5% from the floor, and made five 3-pointers. St. Bonaventure waltzed into the locker room with a commanding 38-23 lead.
But this Duquesne team is different. Dambrot’s Dukes would not go easily into the night.
In the second half, Duquesne began to run their offense through the low post, which brought them much more success.
Jimmy Clark’s layup with 7:15 to go cut the Bonaventure lead to eight points as the Dukes had mounted a rally. Moments later, Banks III fired an off-balance 3-point attempt that missed, as Grant secured the rebound.
Grant then knocked down two free throws on the ensuing possession to make it a 55-49 ballgame.
But that’s as close as Duquesne would get, despite shooting close to 40% over the final 20 minutes.
Farell scored a layup moments later. Then St. Bonaventure’s Chad Venning, who finished with a dozen points, drained two high-arching free-throws to bring the Bonnie lead back to double digits with just under six minutes to play.
From there, both teams struggled offensively as the Bonaventure and Duquesne defenses ramped up down the stretch. Over the last four minutes, Bona looked lost at times trying to fight through Dambrot’s press, while the Dukes grew ice cold. Duquesne reverted to when they could not get into a rhythm in the game’s early stages.
Yet, Bona made their free throws when they needed to, going 10-of-14 from the line in the second half.
Duquesne, on the other hand, did not. The Dukes shot a dreadful 8-of-18 from the free-throw line, as they ultimately lost by nine points.
Nine different Bonnies scored a field goal. And each of those nine Bonnies played at least seven minutes.
The Bona bench scored 15 points overall, as Flowers scored five points to lead the reserves.
Starting point guard Kyrell Luc finished with ten points and secured a team-high eight rebounds—not bad for the 5-foot-11 Dorchester, Massachusetts native. Luc also dished out four assists, tying Banks III for a team-high.
Next up for the Bonnies is a trip to the Windy City, where they will face former Athletic Director Steve Watson and the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Tip-off from Gentile Arena is slated for 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Duquesne returns home after a three-game road trip to face Fordham in Pittsburgh Saturday.
Jack Milko is a current graduate student at St. Bonaventure University. He will graduate with an M.A. in Sports Journalism in May 2023. He also covers the Bonnies for @A10Talk. Follow him on Twitter @Jack_Milko.
Featured image courtesy of Dan Nelligan, St. Bonaventure ’20.