By JOHN ANDERSON
The Reilly Center has never been so quiet when a shot was made in the last minute to seal a St. Bonaventure victory.
When senior All-American candidate Kyle Lofton went down with an ankle injury moments before, the excitement of a victory, and the upcoming sold-out game Saturday against University at Buffalo turned into concern and defeat.
The injury took place with 51 seconds left in the game, a 93-81 victory over Coppin State. Lofton needed assistance getting to the bench then went to the locker room before the final horn as he missed seeing a Jalen Adaway steal and a basket by Jaren Homes to end the scoring.
But this is a rolled ankle, not the heartbreak of a wounded knee.
Lofton will return from it just as strong or stronger.
And what pleased St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt was the play of his bench (14 points) and the fact almost six players were in double figures. You don’t know who will score when you play St. Bonaventure and you know defensively it’s going to be a battle.
While Coppin State did have some uncomfortable leads and scored 81 points, Schmidt was quick to point out the pace of the game and the number of possessions.
Offensively for St. Bonaventure (6-1 and hoping for a return to the AP Top 25), Holmes had 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and blocked a shot. With 13:03 left, Holmes drew a charge during a time Coppin State was attempting a comeback and the play and energy after that defensive stop stayed with the Bonnies and the crowd the rest of the way.
“We were just trying to grind out stops and I was trying to do whatever I could for the team so that we could eventually get the win,” Holmes said. “I would do anything for this team and for these coaches. They gave me a chance when nobody else did. I’ll do anything they ask me to or whatever they need, even if it’s to go jump off a cliff. If Coach Schmidt says ‘go jump off a cliff’ I’m going to go jump (Schmidt, who was sitting next to him, smiled).
“We just have to string along stops. We are not used to giving up 80 points in a game, so we have to figure some things out and we will,” Holmes said. “I’m confident in this team and the plan that Coach Schmidt has for us and he’s going to work as hard as he does each day to prepare us and we are going to continue to follow that plan and work hard.”
Here is a report on the game with game notes and information on Saturday from gobonnies.com:
Kyle Lofton finished with 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds; Jalen Adaway posted 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Coppin State used a first-half spurt to rush out to a 41-29 advantage with 2:38 remaining in the first half, but a technical foul assessed to the Eagles opened the door for a Bonnies rally.
St. Bonaventure (6-1) finished the half on an 11-3 sprint to close within four at the break, 44-40.
Entering the day, the Bonnies had outscored opponents 244-173 during the second half this season and that trend would continue Wednesday night.
The Bonnies’ run extended to 24-10 as the second half began as the hosts not only took the lead but pushed ahead by double digits, 64-54.
Dominick Welch ignited the Bonnies out of the locker room by drilling three consecutive 3-pointers to bring the crowd to life.
From there, the Bonnies never trailed again.
St. Bonaventure led by 12 after a pair of free throws from Lofton with 2:50 left, but Coppin State would close to a 87-81 tally with 1:27 on the clock. A fast break led to an and-one from Adaway on the next possession, though, putting the Eagles on ice.
Jesse Zarzuela led all scorers with 27 points for Coppin State (1-10).
- Welch now ranks sixth in career 3-pointers with 184. He passed Chris Matthews ’10 (182) and Nii Nelson-Richards ’95 (181) in school history.
- Osunniyi moved into 10th place all-time in Bonnies career rebounding, finishing the day with 708 rebounds. He passed both Matt Gantt ’72 (706) and Youssou Ndoye ’15 (705).
- Adaway set a career-high in rebounding with 16 boards. His previous best was 14 rebounds vs. Fordham in 2017 when he was a member of Miami (OH).
- Lofton handed out nine assists, his 22nd career game of seven or more helpers.
- Abdoul Karim Coulibaly delivered 10 points off the bench, his second double-figure scoring effort of the year.
- Holmes now has three double-doubles on the year and, like Lofton, has scored in double figures in all seven games this year.
- St. Bonaventure shot 54 percent in the second half (19-35) as opposed to 41 percent (14-34) before halftime. The Bonnies outscored the Eagles by a 53-37 margin after intermission.
- SBU held a 44-32 edge on the boards and 44-30 in paint scoring. The Eagles stayed close by downing 10 3-pointers.
QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT
“I was happy with how we came out in the second half being more active and playing harder. Coppin State played harder than us in the first half, so it was important for us to play harder than them in the second half. When you play harder good things happen.”
“Jaren shot the ball really well tonight. Jaren and Jalen played extremely well, really crashed the boards hard. Karim and Quadry came in and gave us a lift off the bench. I thought Quadry played a good defensive game, he didn’t light up the stat sheet but he definitely did his job tonight.”
“As far as the bench goes, any coach wants to know what the bench can give you. Today, they gave us positive minutes.”
St. Bonaventure plays host to Western New York rival Buffalo in a highly anticipated matchup Saturday inside the Reilly Center at 4 p.m. That game is officially a sellout. Fans can watch the game free on the NBC Sports App and logging in through their cable provider.
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