image courtesy gobonnies.com
By: Anthony Goss
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team faced questions about its play this week.
The Bonnies had produced two underwhelming post-Charleston Classic performances and had learned senior point guard Kyle Lofton would miss the next several weeks with an ankle sprain.
The Bonnies provided an emphatic response with an intense win, 68-65, against the University of Buffalo at the Reilly Center Saturday afternoon.
“We just really rallied together and gave it our all and knew we could win this game,” senior guard Jalen Adaway said. “It’s just a matter of how tough are we willing to be.”
The teams traded buckets in the first half. UB led 27-23 with 4:28 left in the half before a Jalen Adaway three sparked a 12-2 Bonnies run, giving them a 35-29 lead at halftime.
“I thought our guys came out and played really aggressive, played downhill,” Bona’s head coach Mark Schmidt said.
The Bonnies remained in control after halftime. Seniors Jalen Adaway and Osun Osunniyi led the Bonnies’ scoring attack, while fellow senior Jaren Holmes impressed while facilitating the offense.
“I thought Jaren was tremendous playing out of position,” Schmidt said. “He’s a warrior.”
The lead grew to as many as 11, but Buffalo continued to hang around thanks to the play of senior forward Jeenathan Williams. The Bonnies forced six turnovers from the senior, but Williams continued to find baskets and smoothly finish at the rim.
Buffalo took a timeout after senior guard Dominick Welch gave the Bonnies a 63-52 lead with 3:05 remaining. But the Bulls made a final push, tying the game at 65 with 29 seconds left, setting up St. Bonaventure to take the last shot.
With the clock winding down, Holmes drove left, drawing two Buffalo defenders. Holmes passed the ball back out to Adaway who drained the game-winning three pointer with one second left, giving the Bonnies a 68-65 win and sending the Reilly Center into pandemonium.
“He’s always in the gym. He deserved to hit that shot,” Schmidt said. “When you put all that work in, you wanna have that shot.
“It’s priceless,” Adaway said. “I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and how happy I am and how big of a moment it really was.”
The win moved the Bonnies to 7-1 on the season. Despite missing on-court leadership from Lofton, the Bonnies showed an abundance of another attribute: toughness.
“We found a way to win. It’s a game of toughness,” Schmidt said. “Everything is skill and athleticism but when it comes down to it it’s a game of toughness and I thought we made those tough plays when we needed to.”
Bona’s reserves had arguably their most impactful game of the season. Quadry Adams took the Lofton’s spot in the starting lineup, finishing with only six points but adding a perimeter defensive presence necessary in Lofton’s absence.
Redshirt sophomore Linton Brown had 10 points (all in the first half) and shot 2-4 from three. Abdoul Karim Coulibaly provided a paint presence when senior big Osun Osunniyi sat due to foul trouble.
“It’s just them being positive when they’re on the floor and I thought all three of those guys did a really good job tonight,” Schmidt said.
After defeating Buffalo, the Bonnies face Loyola (MD) on Wednesday before a road matchup with UConn on Dec. 11.
“We all have to get better. We’re not a finished product by any means,” Schmidt said. “We have a lot more game in us.”