OLEAN — Delaware has five players who average double figures including its leading scorer who chips in 22 points as a reserve. Considering St. Bonaventure hasn’t exactly been defensive stalwarts over the last five games, Monday evening’s game at the Reilly Center figured to be high scoring.
Yet the Bonnies built a lead as high as 16 points in the second half with their defense and held off a late rally by the Blue Hens for an 80-73 victory in front of 3,689.
Delaware (6-7) whittled the margin to six points with 33 seconds left, but Youssou Ndoye converted a conventional three-point play to make it a three-possession game with 24 seconds left.
Matthew Wright broke free from his two-game shooting slump to score 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, five rebounds and three assists. Ndoye had 15 points, six rebounds and a career best six blocks for the Bonnies (9-4) who equaled their high for the most non-league victories in a season under Mark Schmidt.
St. Bonaventure will get a chance to break the mark at 2 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Cornell.
Delaware, which averages 82 points a game, couldn’t fast break if the Bonnies limited turnovers. With the exception of a stretch late in the game they took good care of the ball to the tune of a season high 23 assists on just 10 turnovers.
“That was the best defensive job we’ve done in the last five or six games,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “It was just a great victory.”
The Bonnies received solid contributions off the bench as Dion Wright flirted with a double-double with eight points and nine boards while Jordan Gathers finished with eight points and five assists in 18 minutes.
The Bonnies’ objective was to hold the Blue Hens under 40 percent shooting and they did as Delaware shot 38 percent.
Kyle Anderson (23 points, 7 of 12 shooting) and leading scorer Deon Saddler (18 points) caught fire late for Delaware. Opponents had been shooting 48 percent against the Bonnies during the last five games.
“Our guys came through, they locked up,” Schmidt said. “That’s how we’re going to have to play to win as we go forward.”
The key was keeping the guards out front, most notably cat quick Jarvis Threatt who has a tendency to dip into paint, score and create for others. The job went to Charlon Kloof who held Threatt to 2-of-12 shooting, five points and three assists.
“They attack from the top and one of the keys to the game was locking down their point guard,” Wright said.
“He’s the spearhead of the offense and when he breaks down the first defender then it becomes five on four or four on three. Charlon did a great job containing him so we could stick to our men.”
If Delaware’s guards happen to find the lane, it was Ndoye’s job to redirect shots.
“My mindset was to help out on the guards and try and do a good job when our guards get beat to step up, try to block a shot or take a charge,” Ndoye said. “Try to get rebounds, block shots, take a charge.”
Ndoye neutralized 6-foot-9 Carl Baptiste, a .584 shooter who averages 11.3 points, and held him to eight points on 1-for-7 from the floor. Delaware coach Monte Ross called Ndoye’s play, “spectacular.”
“Baptiste is a very important component to what we do on offense, and Ndoye really bothered Carl,” Ross said. “The big kid really had an effect on the game both offensively and defensively.”
email: rmckissic @buffnews.com