Men’s basketball: See you soon? Bonnies prevail over UMass, clinch five seed for A-10s

(Photo Credit: St. Bonaventure Athletics)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team struggled to score on Saturday afternoon and even found itself down to UMass for over nine minutes. The Bonnies won anyway on Senior Day, 60-56, and clinched the fifth seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament.

SBU (19-11, 11-7 in the A-10) made just 19 of its 55 shot attempts from the field, including an unusually low six combined baskets from Jaylen Adams, Denzel Gregg and Matt Mobley. Adams made the team’s lone three-pointer in 11 tries. SBU’s 60 points were its second-lowest output of the year, a mark only higher than the 59 it put up against Rhode Island.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg’s gameplan was to mix up his defensive schemes, showing Adams and Mobley many different looks. At times, he had a defender faceguard Adams the entire way up the court. When either of the Bona backcourt mates touched the ball, more often than not UMass (14-17, 4-14) sent in a double-team.

The Minutemen’s defensive pressure and effectiveness was an important takeaway from the game because these teams could meet up in Pittsburgh in less than a week. Since Bona received a single-bye in the tournament, it faces the winner of Wednesday’s UMass-St. Joseph’s opening round game on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.

St. Joe’s also gave the Bonnies a run for their money in two matchups this year. The Hawks didn’t, however, hold Bonaventure under 35 percent from the field or limit Adams to 2-of-11 shooting from the field.

“We had a bunch of different defenses,” Kellogg explained with a stifled laugh. “We played some man, played some of our kind of hybrid zone, we played a little bit of triangle-and-two on him and Mobley and a little bit of box-and-one. (Adams) is so good that if you give him the same thing over and over, he just figures out ways to do it. I thought our guys paid great attention to detail for some things we haven’t worked on that frequently.”

In the first matchup in Amherst, Mass., Adams and Mobley torched Kellogg to the tune of a combined 52 points, which explained the need for adjustments and a mix of defensive fronts.

When the best overall offense in the A-10 sputters by scoring just 30 a half, it’s easy to overlook the effort SBU had on defense. The Bonnies have only allowed fewer than 60 points on three occasions this year; the most recent before Saturday was on Feb. 8 in a win over Saint Louis.

Bona only allowed 23 points over the first 20 minutes. UMass was able to increase that total by 10 in the second, but didn’t produce enough offense to overcome a more talented Bonaventure team.

Only two UMass players scored in double-figures (Malik Hines 15, Chris Baldwin 10). Zach Lewis didn’t make a field goal, scoring all three points on foul shots. Donte Clark went 2-for-11 like Adams, but didn’t get to the line and ended with four. Luwane Pipkins made just one free throw.

“I thought defensively, especially in the first half, we played extremely well,” Schmidt said. “They got us in the second half for a while.”

Gregg didn’t have his best game, scoring just eight points, but Adams heated up in the second, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes and making all 12 free throws in the game. David Andoh ended up shining on Senior Day as the second-leading scorer. He had 12 points with two go-ahead baskets in the last three minutes.

“When they play triangle and two, it makes those third, fourth and fifth guys make some shots,” Schmidt said. “We made some, but we didn’t make enough. If you start making them from the elbow, then they have to get out of it, but we didn’t and they stayed in it, which is smart.

“I tell the guys, it’s a disrespect thing to the third, fourth and fifth guy, and you’ve gotta make them pay. And they did it last year and Idris came out and I think he had 19 against them. So you’ve gotta make them pay. It’s a disrespect thing and now you’ve gotta go and knock down some jump shots. We had some jump shots, we had some layups that we missed, but give them credit, they stuck with it.”

It hasn’t always been the easiest year for Andoh, rotating from starter to coming off the bench, but a double-digit point game after he was honored for his two years in the program was a high point.

After showing some emotion in interviews leading up to the contest, the Montreal native knew it was time to take care of business when the game started.

“After the ceremony coach just pulled us in and talked about how that’s over and how it’s just time to play and compete,” Andoh said. “And I just focused on the opponent; that’s what we all tried to do.”

The Bonnies now have four days to prepare for the all-important conference tournament. Whether they meet the Minutemen or Hawks for a third time, Schmidt said the team needs a better performance on Thursday.

“We’ve gotta play better, we’ve gotta play better,” Schmidt allowed, “but it’s a good sign when you don’t play really well and you still win. We hung in there, we persevered.

“There was some adversity and we showed some mental toughness, which is good.”

 

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