The Davidson Wildcats knocked down 16 threes on their way to closing out an epic trilogy against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, winning 82-70, in the semifinals of the A-10 Conference Tournament.
Offensive and defensive force Courtney Stockard did not play for the Bonnies due to a hamstring injury. He’s been ruled as day-to-day.
In Stockard’s absence players off the Bonnies’ bench had to step up. Josh Ayeni logged his first minutes since the Bonnies’ 64-56 win against Saint Louis. Ayeni finished the game with two points and two rebounds. Tshiefu Ngalakulondi also logged his first minutes of the A-10 tournament in Stockard’s absence. Ngalakulondi finished with two points.
Foul shooting was a problem early. The Bonnies shot 2-7 in the first half from the line. They picked up their shooting, finishing the second half 5-6, but 7-13 in total.
The absence of Stockard couldn’t be ignored. The Wildcats were able to drain ten threes, just in the opening half.
Davidson’s Kellan Grady talked about the Wildcats effective three-point shooting. The team’s 16 threes put them in 2nd for the tournament record for team threes. St. Bonaventure had 17 in 2002.
“I’m not sure it is exactly how we matched up with them,” Grady said. “I think it’s just us sticking to our game plan and sticking to what we do best which is moving the ball, attack appropriately and find the open man. We were fortunate to get good looks and luckily we made most of them.”
Eventually, though, the Wildcats went on a cold streak towards the middle of the first half, not hitting a field goal for five minutes. However, they surged back, shooting 6-8 to close out the first half with the lead. 37-31.
The 2nd half began much like the first. The Wildcats and Bonnies traded buckets for over nine minutes. Neither team could pull away, but Bona had to play catch-up mode. It didn’t matter if they hit layups, threes or and-ones; they just could not catch the Wildcats.
At one point, the Bona crowd fell silent. In fact, the GW pep band, brought in to act as a pep band for Bona’s, was louder than the fans.
That all changed when Matt Mobley hit a deep three getting the crowd back in it.
But, an already depleted Bona’s team suffered another setback when Ayeni grabbed a putback off a missed Mobley three and crumbled to the ground holding his knee. He did not return.
Then, almost on cue, the star showed up.
Jaylen Adams struggled the night prior to Richmond. He even struggled for the first half of the game. But when it counted, he came to play.
Adams sunk two jumpers and then found Amadi Ikpeze for a hook shot. Adams then hit another with a kiss off the backboard.
Adams willed the Bonnies within one until Peyton Aldridge knocked down a three and another jumper with six minutes to play.
Adams finished as the leading scorer for the Bonnies with 20 points and 8 assists.
The Bonnies needed a run. But Aldridge wanted it more than anyone in the Arena. He finished with 24 points going 6-7 from the three-point line.
Aldridge talked about what parts of his game went into his strong performance.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me some open looks and I was trying to continue to crash the glass,” Aldridge said. “Every opportunity I was trying to sink in and grab a rebound, and on the offensive end I was trying to stay aggressive.”
In the end, the Bonnies couldn’t overcome Aldridge and the injuries to Stockard and Ayeni. They lost 82-70.
The Bonnies will look towards Selection Sunday tomorrow as their fate in the NCAA Tournament hangs in the balance.
Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt talked about his team’s chances of making the tournament and how the seniors would feel if selected.
“It would mean everything to them,” Schmidt said. ”If you sat in that room, that day two years ago, it was heartbreaking because those guys put everything into it and thought they were in. Hopefully, they’ll have that chance tomorrow.”