(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Every contending basketball team’s season has a game along the way that demonstrates that the early-season rust is off. The St. Bonaventure Bonnies aren’t quite in mid-season form yet, but their 80-68 victory over the Vermont Catamounts established that they’re a matchup nightmare, with Jaylen Adams leading the charge.
Adams scored a career-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including seven threes, and dished out seven assists to lift the Bonnies to their fifth win in six games. The sophomore was highly efficient, especially in the second half, when he was 4-of-5 from the field with just one turnover.
Adams has scored 16.6 points per game over the first eight games, and his assist-to-turnover ratio on the season is now at 1.86 on the season, 4.3 over the last two games.
The Baltimore native has now scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games and is in a remarkable zone from deep, making 12 of his last 17 triples.
“Once the first one goes in it kind of makes it (easier) for the next one to go in,” Adams said. “Once the first two go in, it could be a good day. My teammates found me in open spots and I was able to hit shots.”
Adams was joined in the double-digit point club by forwards Dion Wright and Denzel Gregg, who scored 16 and 10, respectively. Marcus Posley scored eight on 2-of-10 shooting, but had six assists and was picked up by his teammates in the scoring department.
“We’re better when Jay, Marcus and Dion are scoring, and we’re really good when we get that fourth guy like Denzel,” said Schmidt. “Those were a big 10 points. Marcus didn’t play the way he was capable of playing today. He had an off day, and when that happens someone else has to step up. I thought in the second half (Denzel) did a much better job and he was that third guy that we needed.”
From the final two minutes of the first to the first two minutes of the second, Vermont went on a 13-4 run to tie the game, and it looked as if it would be a much tighter game in the final 20 minutes. However, Adams and Kaputo promptly answered with back-to-back threes to jump-start an 11-2 SBU run over the next four minutes. Bonaventure outscored the Catamounts 35-23 over the last 18 minutes of play to seal the victory.
“We came together as a team and understood that it’s a game of runs. They had their run, now it’s our turn,” Adams said.
“We didn’t do a good job of closing out the half, didn’t do a good job in the first half of closing out possessions,” Schmidt said. “(We) came out a little lethargic in the second half… and then we started playing.
“We can’t allow ourselves to get leads and then relax. Mature teams, when you get up by 12, you push the pedal down and curb them.”
The Atlantic 10 is looking as fierce as ever this year, with a 78-34 combined record thus far. Everyone but George Mason currently holds a winning record, which is an early indication that being victorious in this conference is going to bear the same amount of difficulty as it usually does.
Adams understands the importance of taking care of business in non-conference contests, which the team will be focusing on in the 10-day break from game action due to next week’s final exams.
“We know these wins are important, and we’re trying to win out the non-conference being that the conference is tough,” Adams said. “We’ve got to win out the non-conference and try to get as many wins as possible.”
Bona dished out 19 assists as a team tonight, surpassing its average of 14.9 a game on the season. With Posley, Wright and Adams all averaging double-digit points and Gregg less than a point shy, the team knows it can spread the wealth.
“We have a lot of capable scorers, so we just feed the hot hand,” said Adams.
Final buzzer: One strange statistic in an otherwise-impressive game came from the free-throw line, where the Bonnies actually shot the same 55 percent mark that they did from three-point range. The poor shooting at the line was one of the only negative stats on the night and will likely drop the brown and white from first in the country in percentage, but didn’t end up costing the Bonnies in the final result.
Gregg, who made just two of his seven freebie attempts, was able to have a laugh about it afterwards.
“Looking like the old me,” he said. “But I’m still working on it everyday, so it happens- moving on.”