By Taylor Nigrelli
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — The Bonnies (16-10, 6-6) ran their conference record back to .500 for the first time in over a month as they defeated Duquesne (11-14, 3-9) 71-67 at the Reilly Center Wednesday.
The win marked the third in a row for the Bonnies, who had previously not won consecutive conference games.
The Brown and White ran out to a 36-25 halftime lead and opened up a 14-point lead after senior guard Matthew Wright nailed a three-pointer in the opening seconds of the second half.
Yet the Dukes began to storm back almost immediately, going on a 15-2 run to cut the St. Bonaventure lead to one in just over two minutes of action.
“Give Duquesne credit, we knew they weren’t going to lie down,” St. Bonaventure Head Coach Mark Schmidt said. “They came out hard in the second half. They went on a run and we had a hard time keeping them in front of us.”
The second half featured five ties, several lead changes and plenty of back and forth action. The Bonnies trailed 67-64 with just over two minutes remaining but scored the game’s final seven points to capture the victory.
Wright hit a jump shot while being fouled and hit the free throw to tie the game and junior center Youssou Ndoye hit a lay-up in traffic to take the lead. The Bonnies then got stops on back-to-back defensive possessions and Wright hit two foul shots to ice the game.
“They scored the first six possessions of the half,” Schmidt said. “Then we found ourselves and there was a lot of back-and-forth action. We found a way to win. We made the plays at the end.”
Senior guard Charlon Kloof played only eight minutes in the first half after picking up a pair of early fouls. Junior Jordan Gathers filled in admirably at point guard, scoring 18 points, 15 of which came in the first half, on 6-8 shooting. Gathers also hit four three-pointers to go along with four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
“Jordan really gave us a big lift. He hit a lot of big shots and gave us that 11-point lead at halftime,” Schmidt said. “Charlon’s been in foul trouble a lot and Jordan’s come in and done a very good job handling that point guard responsibility from a defensive and offensive standpoint.”
The Bonnies bench outscored the Duquesne bench 36-9 Wednesday. Aside from Gathers, sophomore forward Dion Wright scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards.
“One of the strengths of our team has been our bench,” Schmidt said. “The guys have accepted their roles. Dion and Jordan have been terrific. They don’t always put up big numbers offensive, but they defend, they rebound and they do the little things.”
While the bench shined Wednesday, some of the Bonnies starters struggled. Kloof scored only two points on 1-6 shooting (he did add six assists and five rebounds, however). Junior guard Andell Cumberbatch was held scoreless and turned the ball over twice. Ndoye registered just five points and grabbed just three rebounds in over 30 minutes of play. Senior forward Marquise Simmons played just 14 minutes and scored just six points with one rebound.
The Bonnies defense succeeded at stopping some of Duquesne’s more potent scorers. Senior forward Ovie Soko and sophomore guard Micah Mason were limited to just 26 points, including eight in the first half.
The Bonnies will take the court again Saturday as they take on the Rhode Island Rams (11-16, 2-10) at the Reilly Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.