Story courtesy Scott Eddy, Assistant Athletics Director for Strategic Communications, photo by Steve Harrison
RICHMOND, Va. – With the home crowd roaring, Bona’s 19-point lead cut to single digits and still six minutes to play, it seemed as though VCU was primed for a comeback.
Instead, Charles Pride knocked down a three-pointer, and just as quickly as the crowd came to its feet, it collectively sat right back down.
It was that kind of night for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team as the Bonnies never trailed and had an answer each time VCU tried to claw its way back.
The result: a convincing 89-78 victory for the Bonnies to open Atlantic 10 play.
“When the crowd got into it, they didn’t make us play faster. We played like a mature team,” head coach Mark Schmidt said. “Daryl (Banks III) got out of his shooting slump and Assa Essamvous carried us at the start of the second half. Five guys in double figures; it was a real team effort.”
Chad Venning did it all as he dominated with a double-double effort of 19 points and 11 rebounds, also blocking two shots and handing out two assists.
Pride posted 17 points and seven rebounds and Mika Adams-Woods scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half.
Bona (10-3, 1-0 A-10) led for over 38 minutes of game time and for much of the second half, by double digits.
Talk about a statement win to begin conference play at what is traditionally one of the toughest places to play in the league.
“In atmospheres like this, you have to hit big shots,” Schmidt said. “We did that tonight.”
The Bonnies opened up a 25-16 lead following a 10-for-17 start from the floor, including connecting on three of their first four tries from distance.
Bona’s lead expanded to 32-21 following a Banks trey with 7:19 left in the first half, and despite Essamvous being forced to sit with a second foul, the visitors continued to roll.
Adams-Woods sank a trey for a 37-23 score, but VCU would answer with an 8-0 sprint to get back within 37-31.
As the clock ticked down to halftime, Venning did about the only thing he hadn’t done to that point – beat the shot clock with a fall away jumper.
He scooped up a loose ball and drained a shot just inside the three-point line at the buzzer for a 44-36 score.
Assamvous carried over that energy into the second half, draining two quick threes to push the lead to double digits as the Bonnies captured control.
Adams-Woods helped the Bonnies pull away with continued drives of the lane, drawing seven fouls to go 10-for-12 at the stripe.
Late in the second half, the Bonnies were still shooting over 60 percent from 3-point land (10-16) as the lead swelled to 19.
VCU (8-5, 0-1) would make one last stand, cutting the margin to single digits once more, 79-70, with 1:47 to play.
Adams-Woods and Venning put any thoughts of a miracle rally to bed quickly with a lob that the redshirt junior center slammed home, sending the Rams fans for the exits.
Daryl Banks III gave the Bonnies a fifth starter in double figures as he tallied 10 points.
For VCU, Christian Fermin led the way with 15 points and nine boards.
- Bona finished the game shooting over 48 percent from the floor and nearly 55 percent from long range (12-22).
- The Bonnies won the battle of the boards, 35-29, and committed just eight turnovers on the night.
- Venning posted his third career double-double and first of the season.
- St. Bonaventure has won back-to-back games at VCU’s Siegel Center for the first time. The Bonnies had only won in the arena twice previously – last January and also in 2018.
- Bona’s 89 points represent their all-time high against VCU in 17 meetings. SBU takes the lead in the series all-time, 9-8, including wins in five of the last seven contests.
- Speaking of 89 points, the Bonnies have now hit that total in five of the last eight games overall.
- The Bona bench once again played a pivotal role: Kyrell Luc had six points and an assist while Barry Evans again brought energy that doesn’t show in the box score, finishing with two points, three boards and two steals.
- SBU has now won nine of its last 11 A-10 openers.
St. Bonaventure remains in the city of Richmond through the weekend as the Bonnies will take on the Spiders on Saturday afternoon. Tip time is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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