OLEAN — St. Bonaventure and Duquesne engaged in a three-point shooting contest on Saturday at the Reilly Center, which saw Bona claim its third victory in four games, 68-60, in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
The Bonnies (10-10, 3-4) moved up to .500 on the season and got there in a game in which the teams combined for 23 three-pointers, with dependable guard Matthew Wright on the bench in street clothes because of a foot injury.
Now comes another brutal stretch for St. Bonaventure: the next four games are Butler, Rhode Island, LaSalle and Richmond and only one – LaSalle – is in the comforts of the Reilly Center. In fact the Bonnies have only two home games during the month of February.
It could rattle Bona’s current run, which followed a string of six consecutive losses. They may have beaten one the league’s dregs in Duquesne (7-14, 0-7) Saturday, but the next few weeks will indicate if the Bonnies can be taken seriously come March.
“It’s a heck of a league and the teams that we’re playing, all the way back to N.C. State and Colorado State, are top 50 teams,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “I was reading the other day where other than the Big Ten, the Atlantic 10 has 10 teams in the Top 100 in the RPI and that tells you everything you need to know about this league.”
Still, the Bonnies have to be awash in confidence after prevailing without Wright, a player who usually provides a calming influence in the late minutes. Jordan Gathers filled the void with a career high 13 points — 10 in the first half — and was a perfect 5-for-5 shooting and 3 of 3 from downtown.
Eric Mosley led all scorers with 14 points and was 4 for 7 from three-point range, the fourth time this season the senior guard connected on at least four from long range as the Bonnies drained a season-high 12 treys.
“With Matt being out, we needed to step up,” Gathers said. “Matt brings scoring and shooting from the perimeter for us. I just got open, my teammates found me and I was able to make shots.”
Gathers’ contribution was huge considering his playing time has fluctuated most of the season. He played 19 minutes in the Bonnies last game against Saint Louis but in the five games prior, he totaled 29.
“We go hard in practice every day, we treat the game the same every time we go out,” said Gathers, who matched his season high with 30 minutes on Saturday.
So did the Dukes, who hung around longer than anyone in the crowd of 4,991 expected by canning 11 of 24 from beyond the arc.
The Bonnies led by 13 points early in the second half but Duquesne cut the lead to four with 1:06 remaining on a layup by Jeremiah Jones. After Youssou Ndoye missed a layup, Charlon Kloof came up with a huge offensive board to reset the shot clock. Demitrius Conger was fouled by Jones with 32 seconds left and made both from the stripe for a 66-60 Bonnies lead.
Jones, Sean Johnson and Kadeem Pantophlet had 11 points each to lead Duquesne.
For more on this game, go to the Campus Watch blog at buffalonews.com.