(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team looks to extend its win streak to three games on Wednesday night at 7 when it takes on the George Mason Patriots in Fairfax, Va.
The Bonnies enter their second conference matchup with some momentum after a 97-85 victory over Davidson at the Reilly Center on Saturday night. Sensational sophomore point guard Jaylen Adams, who was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on Monday, is shooting a remarkable 24-of-37 from three (64.9 percent) in his last five games, averaging 22.8 points a game over that span.
The 6-8 Patriots, on the other hand, were dismantled in their season opener at VCU, 71-47. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for first-year coach Dave Paulsen’s club, which did have two impressive non-conference victories over SEC members Ole Miss and Oklahoma State and only trailed sixth-ranked Virginia by eight at halftime.
The Bonnies, who went 5-4 in road A-10 games last year, know not to overlook this Mason team, especially away from home.
“You never really expect anything on the road; it’s always tough having road games,” said senior guard Marcus Posley.
“It’s going to be tough,” Posley continued. “To be successful in this conference you have to continue to win home games and steal some on the road.”
Can the Bonnies take one on the road, or will the Patriots grab a major win? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 133-126 as Bonnies coach.
George Mason- Dave Paulsen. 6-8 as Patriots coach.
Key players for George Mason:
Shevon Thompson- 6-foot-11 senior center. An all-conference third team selection last season, Thompson scored 18 points against the Bonnies last year in Rochester. This season, he is averaging 8.7 points and 10.5 rebounds, with a block a game as well. His best two games thus far came in the Gilden Charleston Classic tournament, where he scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against Ole Miss, then followed that performance up with a 20-point, 17-board effort against Oklahoma State.
The Kingston, Jamaica native has scored in double figures four times this season, with seven double-digit rebound games. Considering how well he performed offensively against Youssou Ndoye last year, he is a real concern that the Bonnies must contain.
Otis Livingston- 5-foot-11 freshman guard. Livingston is tied for the team’s scoring lead with Marquise Moore at 11 points a contest. The Linden, N.J. native is a 41.6 percent shooter from the field, including a 16-of-51 mark from three-point range. A 17-point output in the loss to Mercer on Nov. 16 is Livingston’s season high. He has also dished out 37 assists to just 25 turnovers this season.
Marquise Moore- 6-foot-2 junior guard. Moore, who hails from Queens, N.Y., is tied with Livingston at 11 points a game. He is also third on the team in rebounding, with 5.1 boards a contest, while dishing 50 assists and blocking 16 shots, both team highs. He has scored in double-figures 10 times this season, including five of the last six games.
Keys to victory for George Mason: Feed the big fella. With his size and athleticism, Thompson should be averaging more than six field goal attempts a game. Against two freshmen in Derrick Woods and Jordan Tyson, the man who is arguably the best true big man in the A-10 should get touches early and often and try to establish himself inside.
The Bonnies are holding the opposition to just 32 percent shooting from three, but they are allowing teams to shoot 48.8 percent from two-point range. Paulsen should be taking note of that and laying out a blueprint for his star to shine down low.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: Continue to feed the hot hand, whomever that may be. Adams has been on an absolute tear, but in the second half against Davidson Posley was the leading scorer, going 6-of-10 from the field and scoring 17 in the final 20 minutes. Nelson Kaputo is always a weapon from deep as well; if he catches fire, the brown and white know to swing a couple passes his way.
Bona averages 15 assists a game for a reason- a culture of trust has been built between teammates, and it builds confidence from top to bottom. That must continue against a good defensive team like George Mason that is tied for 73rd in the country in field goal defense at 40.8 percent.