PITTSBURGH — The Duquesne men’s basketball team dropped its third consecutive decision, this one 64-56 in a nationally televised contest to St. Bonaventure in front of a season-high 3,032 fans Friday night at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
Primo Spears led Duquesne (6-10/1-3 Atlantic 10) with 18 points, and his six assists were one off a season high. Tre Williams scored 15 points and matched a season high with 11 rebounds, good for his third double-double of the season. Kevin Easley Jr added 14 points and nine rebounds.
St. Bonaventure (11-4/3-1 Atlantic 10) was led by Osun Osunniyi’s season highs of 21 points and 17 rebounds. Jalen Adaway and Jaren Holmes each scored 16 points. Bona had a decisive 44-24 edge in the paint.
The St. Bonaventure win gives it seven straight over Duquesne.
Spears would score the first basket of the game after Easley earned a steal.
Following the score, St. Bonaventure took advantage of a Duquesne post weakened by R.J. Gunn and most recently Austin Rotroff’s absence.
Osunniyi earned a double-double in the first half with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while also compiling five blocks. His ability to follow close-range misses, allowed Bona to grab six of the first seven offensive boards, giving the Bonnies a 12-5 advantage heading into the first media timeout.
With Duquesne’s defense unable to get going, Dambrot subbed in both Tyson Acuff and Mike Bekelja. Long associated with being Duquesne’s best on-ball defender, Bekelja helped the Dukes string multiple defensive stops together, but on the back end had struggles scoring the basketball, going on a 5:03 drought, halting any momentum earned from that end of the court.
St. Bonaventure was unable to convert on some its first shots, especially finishing in close on driving plays, but got out to a 16-0 advantage in the paint as Duquesne’s offense stalled.
To put this into perspective, Osunniyi briefly had more blocks (three) than Duquesne had field goals (two).
Down 16, it took an Easley three-point basket, for the offense to get in some form.
Despite this, it was not until Osunniyi was placed on the bench that Duquesne began to make a run, a 7-0 spurt to be exact, to cut its deficit to eight points.
Osunniyi would then return to court and earned an and-one play.
In the closing seconds of the first half, Acuff missed a jumper that Osunniyi blocked and a furious Dambrot as well as those in attendance, were pleading their case for goaltending to no avail.
Bona led Duquesne at the half 33-22.
Duquesne opened the second half on an 8-0 run as Bonaventure airballed a jump shot and saw a three-point shot attempt fall off the backboard, well off of target. This allowed Duquesne to cut its deficit to six points.
Adaway began to find a scoring touch, as the Bonnies went back in front by double digits. When Spears maneuvered through the defense and found Easley for a three-point basket, just before the shotclock expired, the Duquesne fans roared in approval.
When St. Bonaventure was able to make shots, Duquesne began to answer them until Spears converted another deep shot, bringing the Dukes within three points.
Bona would respond with four unanswered points, as the teams were separated by seven points as Duquesne brought Acuff and Bekelja back in as a response.
The Dukes would continue fighting, and trailing by five points, Easley had a look from deep by the attempt hit off the left side of the rim.
St. Bonaventure would then take the rebound and find Adaway for the team’s first three-point shot of the evening.
Feeding off that make, Kyle Lofton would add a second trifecta, his first points of the evening and the Bonnies lead stretched back to 11 points, activating a Duquesne timeout.
Spears earned another and-one play as Lofton initiated contact and gave Duquesne some momentum heading to the final media timeout.
Prior to the final media stoppage, Jackie Johnson III fired a three-point shot that was well off target, and Easley grabbed the ball and scored in the same motion separating the teams by five points.
St. Bonaventure proved to be too much down the stretch as Duquesne was not able to provide enough answers on either side of the ball.
Duquesne’s next game is on the road at Saint Joseph’s Wednesday at 7 p.m. The contest will be carried by ESPN+.