By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
PHILADELPHIA – The St. Joseph’s Hawks were six-point favorites coming into Wednesday night’s home matchup against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.
The Bonnies didn’t care about the Vegas oddsmakers or chatter, and their 83-73 victory in front of 4027 fans at Hagan Arena reflected that.
Sophomore Jaylen Adams led all scorers with a career-high 31 points, including a 6-of-12 mark from three-point range. Senior Dion Wright recorded his 10th double-double of the season with an 18-point, 11-rebound effort.
Two more Bonnies chipped in double figures as well: Idris Taqqee was an unlikely stat-sheet stuffer with 13, while leading scorer Marcus Posley managed 11 in a foul-shortened 29-minute outing.
The most impressive number in a win that was much more dominating than the score suggested? The brown and white only turned the ball over twice, the lowest total of the season; the previous low was six.
“That was the key,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “St. Joe’s is really good in the open court and (when) they turn you over, Bembry is fantastic in the open court. We tried to make sure we took care of the basketball… that was a big key to the win today.”
The Bonnies’ 34 three-point attempts were a season high, as were the 13 makes. Adams’s six treys were his second most of the year, while Taqqee made multiple shots from behind the arc for the first time in his career.
“I told our guys, ‘we can’t fall in love with the three, but when they’re open, you gotta shoot ’em,'” Schmidt said.
“I was really just finding the open spots, and my teammates were finding me,” Taqqee added. “It was just one of those things where once you get to that spot and you’ve got the ball in your hand, you’ve got to make it happen. My teammates had trust in me.”
As impressive as the offense was, holding some the Hawks’ usual suspects to a subpar performance was also a major factor.
DeAndre’ Bembry got his 22 points, but season scoring leader Isaiah Miles went just 4-of-12 from the floor and made one lone three in six attempts from behind the arc. James Demery, who averages just over nine points a contest and scored 17 against Florida, scored six points on 2-of-4 shooting, with two misses from three-point land.
“The way we played, I don’t know if we could’ve played any better, other than the three or four minutes that we started the game,” Schmidt remarked.
Was the result a statement win for Bona?
“Indeed,” Adams said. “I think St. Joe’s is about third in the league, and we came in knowing they were third in the league. We had to come out and play with a certain level of respect for them. We came out and we handled business.”
The Hawks received one vote in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll and five votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Continuing the seven-game win streak they held going into Wednesday would have given them a shot at eventually cracking one of the slots.
“I think this will get some people’s attention,” Schmidt said. “St. Joe’s was getting a lot of publicity, and rightfully so… I think us beating them, that can only help us and get us a little bit more respect.
“In order to be one of the elite teams, you have to beat the elite teams,” he continued. “We didn’t do that against VCU and we didn’t do that against Dayton, but we had a chance tonight and we cashed in.”