By: Jeff Uveino
Jaylen Adams went into the AJ Palumbo Center Saturday night with questions surrounding his play.
After a mere 5-point performance Wednesday night and a string of inconsistent outings, some were left thinking the senior guard’s best days were behind him.
Adams obviously didn’t care.
The St. Bonaventure captain exploded for 40 points in an 84-81 win over the Duquesne Dukes, including draining a three-pointer with less than five seconds to play.
It was a huge road win for the Bonnies, who improved to 6-4 in Atlantic 10 play, and 16-6 overall.
Duquesne, another team performing near the top of the A 10 this season, fell to 6-5 in conference play, and 15-9 overall.
This felt like a rollercoaster-type game for St. Bonaventure.
After racing out to a 22-9 lead, including three 3-pointers by Adams, things turned bad for the Bonnies.
They gave up a 16-0 run (yes, sixteen), and it looked like they were on the verge of falling apart on the road once again. Conference road games haven’t exactly been the Bonnies’ forte this season, as Saturday night’s win made them just 2-4 in those games.
There was an abundance of momentum swings in this contest. One that stood out was the last possession of the first half, with the Bonnies trailing by four points with less than five seconds on the clock.
They were able to inbound the ball to an open Izaiah Brockington, who knocked down a three as time expired in the first half. The basket seemed to give the Bonnies a well-needed boost going into the break.
After the horrific run that the Bonnies had given up, being down by a point didn’t seem that bad.
Both teams played well in the second half, and it seemed inevitable that the game would come down to the final possession. Down by three, Duquesne’s Tarin Smith drilled a three-pointer with just over 40 seconds left on the clock. If it weren’t for Adams’ answer, who knows what could have happened in overtime.
One thing is for sure, the Bonnies left Pittsburgh smiling Saturday night, and for a good reason. After a terrible start in conference play losing four out of five (although the road schedule didn’t make it easy), this Bonnies team looks like they’ve got their swagger back.
Jaylen Adams, in particular, looks like he has his swagger back.
An unsung hero in this game was Idris Taqqee. Although he scored just five points, Taqqee came down with nine rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. That number seems even a little low after watching the game.
So, are the Bonnies back? I don’t think any assumptions can be made about the postseason at this point, either good or bad. The Atlantic 10 has been unpredictable this season, Duquesne being a great example. The Dukes were projected to finish dead last in the A 10, and until yesterday were ahead of St. Bonaventure in the standings, who were projected to finish second.
The Bonnies will look to build on their recent success at home, where they will play four of their next five games.
Although still relatively far away, a Friday night date with the Rhode Island Rams in the Reilly Center is quickly approaching, and has to be in the back of Coach Mark Schmidt’s mind already.
However, that game isn’t until February 16. St. Bonaventure will play Saint Louis and Richmond at the RC before then, before taking a trip to Philadelphia to play La Salle.
That three-game stretch leading up to the Rhode Island game is a good chance for the Bonnies to gain some confidence, and respect, before battling the Rams.
If Jaylen Adams can shoot 8-13 from beyond the arc for the rest of the season, as he did in this game, is the NCAA tournament still in reach?
Only time will tell.