ALLEGANY – Matt Mobley kept his iron-man routine going in helping St. Bonaventure to a victory over Duquesne Saturday.
Mobley scored a game-high 20 points in the 80-77 decision and he played 37 minutes. What else is new? Mobley is averaging 38.6 minutes a game.
The junior guard ranks No. 1 in the nation in terms of percentage of minutes played this season. Mobley has played 95.5 percent of Bona’s minutes, more than any player on any of the 351 teams in the nation, according to the Pomeroy analytics website.
“Whenever you’re leading the nation in something, other than turnovers, it’s a good thing,” said Mobley. “I really don’t want to come out. I want to play as much as possible. I just feel when I’m on the court, I have a chance to make good things happen.”
Mobley wasn’t great against the Dukes. He was 5 of 17 from the field. But he kept his season scoring average at 19.4 per game (fourth best in the A-10), and he’s averaging 6.2 rebounds (12th best in the A-10). A transfer from Central Connecticut, he has been everything Bona could have hoped for as a replacement for graduated shooting guard Marcus Posley.
“This summer I really focused on stamina because I was replacing Marcus,” Mobley said. “Marcus played a lot of minutes, and I knew I was going to come in and play a lot of minutes. I wanted to be ready for that, take it head-on, and I’m glad it paid off. I was in the gym a lot more than I was last summer.”
Bona coach Mark Schmidt likes riding his horses. Posley ranked 20th in the nation and Dion Wright was 21st last season. Bona guard Jaylen Adams averages 37.3 minutes this year. But Adams missed two games to injury, which is why he’s 102nd in the nation in percentage of minutes played.
“I say it all the time, when you’re 20 years old, you’re not gonna get tired,” Schmidt said. “We have four time outs every half. If you can’t play for four minutes hard, you shouldn’t be playing. I always say depth is overrated. The only time you need depth is when you get in foul trouble.”
Mobley scored Bona’s first 12 points of the second half and had 17 of his 20 points after intermission.
Records: Bona is 18-10 overall, 10-6 in the A-10. Duquesne is 10-19, 3-13.
Headed for fifth: The Bonnies are likely to finish fifth in the A-10. Their chances of catching Rhode Island (11-5) for fourth look dim after the Rams upset Virginia Commonwealth Saturday. Rhode Island would have to lose its last two to be caught by Bona, and the Rams play lowly St. Joe’s next. Richmond (11-5) is tied with the Rams, but also finishes with two bottom-feeders. The top four in the A-10 get a bye. But No. 5 gets a favorable pre-quarterfinal game against either No. 12 or No. 13. Bona holds the tie-breaker edge over the two teams behind it in the standing, LaSalle and George Mason (both 8-7).
Ten Wins Again: Bona never had back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins in the A-10 until last year. Now the Bonnies have posted three straight 10-plus win seasons in conference for the first time. Bona was 14-4 last year and 10-8 two years ago.
“It means a lot,” Schmidt said. “When we first got here I’m not sure if anyone would have thought we would have that type of record. It’s a testament to our players, to my coaches for what they’ve done. It’s hard to do in this league, with what we have against us, to be able to get 10 wins for three consecutive years. It’s good. I’m proud of it.”
Tight ending: Bona was ahead by 15 with 8:22 left and by 13 with 5:00 left. Duquesne switched to a 1-2-2 zone, and Bona’s offense didn’t adjust well, going four minutes without a score. Duquesne tied it, 74-74 with 1:09 left. Denzel Gregg made a key block on a drive by guard Mike Lewis II with 39 seconds left. A string of free throws gave Bona a 79-77 lead. Then Lewis missed a three that would have put Duquesne ahead with 7 seconds left.
“It wasn’t our best performance by far but we found a way to win,” Schmidt said.
Top Bonnies: Gregg, the 6-foot-7 senior, was the best player on the court for Bona. He had 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Freshman forward Josh Ayeni had 15 points and Adams had 14.
In the house: Attendance was 5,480, the second sellout of the season at the Reilly Center, on Alumni Weekend at Bona.
Up next: Bona plays at Davidson (14-13, 7-9) Tuesday.