OLEAN — St. Bonaventure didn’t show much rust from a seven-day layoff and instead played its most comprehensive game to date.
After suffering a disappointing three-point loss at Arkansas State on Dec. 8, the Bonnies overwhelmed young Cleveland State with a pressure defense and roared to an 87-53 victory in front of 3,223 at the Reilly Center. Everyone with the exception of former manager Danny Farrell scored in this one, but what was most impressive was St. Bonaventure’s tireless work defensively.
Cleveland State’s Charlie Lee averaged 18 points over the last five games but took just two shots and scored four points with Charlon Kloof wrapped around him like a stripe on a candy cane. The Vikings had 20 turnovers, a result of Bona’s unyielding 2-2-1 pressure defense. Cleveland State averaged eight three-pointers a game but connected on just two.
“We won this game because we defended,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt, whose team moved to 6-3. “We took the known away [Lee] and we rebounded. Defense was the key and needs to be the key as we go forward in the season.”
After the Vikings beat them by 18 points two years ago and at the buzzer last year, some Bonnies were looking for revenge. “We wanted to get that bad taste out of our mouth and that was pretty much the focal point,” said Bona senior Michael Davenport.
Bona led 48-26 at the half and by as many as 40 in the second half. Demitrius Conger led the way with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 27 minutes. Kloof finished with 14 points.