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OLEAN – By a couple of different measures St. Bonaventure could have been on its back looking up at Siena in the Reilly Center Tuesday night.

The Bonnies couldn’t shoot it from the perimeter and infrequently showed the patience necessary to take inside aim at the Saints 2-3 zone. What’s more, Siena controlled the backboards most of the night on the strength of one of the nation’s best, senior forward O.D. Anosike.

But when other facets of their game fall short the Bonnies often have their core quality to fall back on. Coach Mark Schmidt’s teams typically play solid defense and defense was their salvation in a 58-43 victory in the nationally televised 9 p.m. start.

Bona junior guard Charlon Kloof made life miserable for Siena’s Evan Hymes, the Saints leading scorer. Hymes managed just five points, nine under his average, and was saddled with six of Siena’s 17 turnovers while playing the point in the absence of injured Rakeen Brookins. Kloof’s effort was vital to the cause since the Bonnies (5-2) made just eight second-half field goals and barely shot 35 percent on the night while going 2 of 20 from behind the arc.

Demitrius Conger topped the Bonnies with 14 points while Marquise Simmons netted 12 to go with 10 rebounds, and Chris Johnson 10 points. Forward Trenity Burdine scored 16 points for Siena, which managed just one field goal the last 8:08. Anosike, the national leader in double-doubles, fell short with seven points and 14 boards.

Bona retained the Franciscan Cup with the victory and ended a streak of five straight games decided by five points or fewer.

“Great defensive team,” Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro said of the Bonnies. “Their defense was absolutely terrific. They played us well, they played a little match-up (zone) and we knew that. We knew going in they’re a good defensive team.”

Kloof arrived at Bona last season relishing the defensive part of the game.

The native of Suriname said he yearned to play in the United States because that’s where the world’s best young guards reside and he relished the opportunity to of meet up with them.

“It’s always a challenge to play against all these great guards,” Kloof said. “The coaches and my teammates believe in me that I can slow the player down. I enjoy it.”

“I thought Charlon did a tremendous job {against Hymes},” Schmidt said. “Not just him, it was a team thing, but we wanted to really pressure him, control him, corral him in ball screens and I thought Charlon did a great job with that.”

Momentum Bona had built at the end of the first half (it led 33-26) disappeared in a rush. Siena started the half with seven straight points, drawing even at 33, before two Kloof free throws had the Bonnies back on top at the first media timeout. Bona missed its first three shots, two of them from behind the arc.

Their first field goal came with 14:40 remaining as Conger yanked down a rebound and wove his way down the floor for a layup.

As was the case in the first half, penetration and defense was Bona’s remedy to its long-range misfires. Kloof drove for a basket and soon after jammed off a Jordan Gathers steal that prompted Buonaguro to burn a timeout with Bona ahead 43-38 and 12:01 remaining.

Siena had just one field goal in the last eight minutes.

“You want to make that the staple,” Schmidt said. “We have to defend, we have to rebound, we have to take care of the basketball. We outscored Buffalo, we got lucky, but we’re not going to do that every night. Defense is the staple.”

email: bdicesare@buffnews.com