St. Bonaventure took charge early of a game it had to have for a chance at a top four finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference and blew out Saint Joseph’s, 89-73, Wednesday night at the Reilly Center.
Led by Justin Winston and Dominick Welch, who scored 20 points each, the Bonnies built a 17-point lead (33-16) with 6:46 left in the first half and coasted home.
The victory brought Bona’s overall record to 19-11. Mort important, coach Mark Schmidt’s team is 11-6 to pull into a tie with Duquesne and Saint Louis for fourth place in the A-10 standings behind champion Dayton, Richmond and Rhode Island. The Bonnies own the tie-breaker over Duquesne and Saint Louis meaning they would have the double-bye through the first two rounds of the conference tournament, which begins next week.
However, Bona’s final regular season game is at Saint Louis, which triumphed over George Mason on Wednesday night.
Winston, the 6-foot-8 freshman forward from West Orange, N.J., sparked Bona’s early charge. He scored eight of his team’s first 15 points. Bona jumped from a 6-5 lead to a 22-8 advantage when Welch hit his second 3-pointer of the game with 11:30 to go in the first half. Bona led 42-27 at the half, with Winston scoring seven straight points followed by a 3-pointer by Welch it was 57-32.
St. Bonaventure had five double-figure scorers. Besides Winston and Welch, the sophomore from Cheektowaga, they got 15 points from sophomore guard Kyle Lofton, 12 from sophomore guard Jaren English and 10 from sophomore center Osun Osunniyi.
Amadi Ikpeze (Amherst), the only senior on the Bona roster, started at center and contributed four points to the team’s early run.
Cameron Brown led Saint Joseph’s with 21 points, including five 3-pointers. Ryan Daly, a transfer from the University of Delaware who scored 21 against the Bonnies in the first meeting between the teams, had 20 for the Hawks.
Bona made 55.7% (34 of 61) of its shots to 45.8% (27 of 59) for the Hawks and had a 36-23 rebounding advantage.
The misery of the worst season in Saint Joseph’s basketball history since World War II goes on. Under Billy Lange, who took over after long-time coach Phil Martelli was forced out, are dead last in the Atlantic 10 standings with a 2-15 conference record and a 6-24 overall record.