A double-digit second half deficit proved too much to overcome as the St. Bonaventure basketball team fell just short to rival Canisius, 61-57, Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center.

Kyle Lofton paced the Bonnies with 18 points and Justin Winston added 14 in a game where offense was hard to come by.

After falling behind 10 at halftime, the Bonnies battled back down the stretch, closing within 56-52 following a Lofton three with 2:09 to play.

Following a defensive stop, Amadi Ikpeze worked his way to the line and downed both shots for a 56-54 score and 1:22 remaining.

The Bona defense again forced a long missed three attempt from the Griffs, taking possession down by just a bucket. An offensive foul led to a Bonaventure turnover, though, and the Bonnies would never get any closer as the Griffs were able to ice the game on free throws by Malik Johnson.

In the early going it was a back-and-forth battle.

The Bonnies led early, but an 11-3 run gave the Griffs a 14-11 edge seven minutes in. Bonaventure answered with a quick 7-0 burst, but Canisius immediately responded to take the lead back.

And so it went for the first half, until the Griffs shut the Bona offense down over the final three and a half minutes before intermission, using a 10-0 sprint for a 35-27 advantage entering the locker room.

St. Bonaventure worked its way back into the game by limiting Canisius to 29 percent shooting during the second half (7-for-24). Bona’s deficit on the boards proved too much, though – Canisius won the battle of rebounding by a 40-24 margin.

Johnson powered the Griffs (2-2) with 15 points. Jacco Fritz added 12 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double effort.

GAME NOTES

The Bonnies wore special throwback jerseys honoring the 1970 Final Four team. Along with the program’s Centennial Season celebration, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Bonaventure’s Final Four squad.

Saturday’s game was the 168th meeting between St. Bonaventure and Canisius all-time and the 74th time the programs have faced off at either KeyBank Center or the old Buffalo Aud.

For the second straight game, the Bonnies used a starting lineup of Kyle Lofton, Dominick Welch, Alejandro Vasquez, Amadi Ikpeze and Justin Winston.

Winston secured his third straight game in double figure scoring with 11 points in the first half.

Lofton had a season-best four steals.

Bona had a season-high 24 foul line attempts, connecting on 18 tries at the charity stripe, but finished just 3-for-12 from beyond the arc.

UP NEXT

The Bonnies return home to face Mercer at the Reilly Center Tuesday night at 7 p.m.