Bonnies Fan Recounts Magical Season in his First Year of College

By: Jeff Uveino

It doesn’t take long to figure out how important basketball is to St. Bonaventure University.

I discovered this on my first visit to the university, when I was just a junior in high school. That visit just happened to be the day after ‘Selection Sunday’ of the 2016 NCAA basketball tournament.

After an unforgettable 2015-16 Bonnies season, where they finished 22-9 and were co-Atlantic 10 regular season champions, they were left out of the tournament following a loss in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Many felt the Bonnies had been snubbed, and they had good reason to believe it. Everyone I met during my visit brought it up. It felt as if the life had been sucked out of the school, and I hadn’t even experienced it on a normal day yet. But what I did feel was the compassion that students and faculty had toward the basketball teams. It meant everything to them.

Fast forward two years.

Now a freshman at St. Bonaventure, preseason hype over the men’s basketball team was through the roof. Seniors Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley were set to take the team to the ‘big dance’ and redeem the snub.

The team opened the season by steamrolling nearby Alfred University, a Division III team, in an exhibition at the RC. The Bonnies gave a convincing first impression of what they could accomplish in the 2017-18 season, but encountered a large problem along the way. The entire Reilly Center held its breath when Adams came up limping after driving to the basket.

Adams wouldn’t return to the game, and ended up not returning to the lineup for a lot longer than Bonnies fans would have liked.

The first month of the season without Adams was interesting to say the least. Now that the season is over and the drama of the postseason has settled, November seems like an eternity ago. But the roller coaster ride that was the non-conference schedule is part of what made this Bonnies season so special.

Start out on November 10, 2017—the Niagara game. My first Bonnies game (yes, ever). St. Bonaventure was heavy favorites over the Niagara Purple Eagles, but were simply outplayed by a team that would finish 161st in RPI. Was this team really that much worse without Jaylen Adams?

Five days later, the Bonnies were set to play the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks in the Reilly Center. Easy work, right? The Hawks would end up finishing 7-25 with an RPI of 346 (out of 351). This also happened to be my first time covering a game on press row.

This time, the problem wasn’t the team, it was the venue. A power outage in the RC caused the game to be postponed five days, and left the Bonnies sitting at 0-1 for even longer than what had already felt like a lifetime.

What a way to start the season. What a way for one’s first two trips to the Reilly Center to turn out. Evidence of how special this season was, however, is that these games are now a mere afterthought.

The rest of non-conference play—where do I start?

Courtney Stockard’s game-winning layup against Maryland. Freshman Izaiah Brockington coming out of nowhere to score 20 points against TCU. A win at the University of Buffalo (who would eventually knock the Arizona Wildcats and NBA lottery prospect DeAndre Ayton out of the NCAA tournament). Matt Mobley’s buzzer-beater three-pointer to beat Vermont. All huge moments, all in less than a month’s time.

The Bonnies were just getting started. With Adams back in the lineup and the Bonnies riding a six-game win streak, they headed to the Carrier Dome to play the Syracuse Orange. St. Bonaventure had never won at Syracuse, and their last win against them had been in 1981.

After a fierce defensive battle, the Bonnies prevailed in overtime, 60-57. Was this the key non-conference victory St. Bonaventure would need to overcome the snub of two seasons ago?

While non-conference play had brought drama, the conference schedule would bring adversity to a team that had previously been hot as could be.

After opening Atlantic 10 play with a home victory over the Massachusetts Minutemen, the Bonnies lost four of their next five games, with all the losses coming on the road. Doubt ensued. Maybe this team wasn’t NCAA tournament-caliber after all? Maybe the win over Syracuse didn’t even mean anything now?

Skip ahead another seven weeks.

That’s how long it took another team to beat St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies won their final 12 Atlantic 10 games, finishing 14-4 in conference play. Talk about turning your season around.

They wouldn’t have gotten there, of course, without several key performances that contribute to the remarkableness of this season.

Who could forget the night Jaylen Adams hit 10 threes and scored 44 points against Saint Louis? Or how about the triple overtime game vs Davidson, with a final score of 117-113? Even these epic games probably take a back seat to the night the Rhode Island Rams came to town.

Rhode Island was ranked No. 16 in the nation, ESPN was in town, and it was Friday night at St. Bonaventure University. People were excited.

In what was the loudest sporting event I have attended in my life, the Bonnies prevailed over the Rams, 77-74. Bedlam commenced when the buzzer sounded, and the whited-out Reilly Center crowd spilled out onto the court. It was the type of sports moment you dream about.

After finishing out their A 10 schedule, the Bonnies would head to Washington, DC for the conference tournament seeded No. 2.

The streets of the nation’s capital were filled with Bonnies fans, even more so than I had expected. Walking around with any St. Bonaventure gear on meant you were subject to a “Go Bonas!” On just about every block.

After defeating the No. 7 seeded Richmond Spiders in the quarterfinals, St. Bonaventure was set for a rematch of their triple-overtime contest (just eleven days before) with the Davidson Wildcats. This time, Davidson’s hot shooting proved to be too much for the Bonnies, and they were eliminated in the semifinals. Now, in order to redeem the snub, they needed some help from the selection committee.

Any die-hard Bonnies basketball fan can tell you where they were when St. Bonaventure’s name was selected for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. At a gas station near Altoona, Pennsylvania, I struggled to find cell phone service to stream the selection show. Meanwhile, nearly the entire student body erupted in the RC when the Bonnies logo showed up on the scoreboard.

The Bonnies were in. No snub.

The pain of 2016 could finally be forgotten, and for the first time since 2012, the Bonnies were dancing.

However, in what some felt was a disservice to the team, St. Bonaventure was sent to Dayton for the ‘First Four’ round. They would play the UCLA Bruins, one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.

On that Tuesday night, just two days after Selection Sunday, the University of Dayton Arena sounded like the Reilly Center. The Bonnies prevailed, 65-58, for their first NCAA tournament win since 1970.

Now they had to travel to Dallas, and in just two days play the No. 6 seeded Florida Gators.

Blame it on the excessive travel, blame it on fatigue, blame it on cold shooting; the Bonnies got run over by the Gators.

After a 77-62 loss in a game that felt even more lopsided than that, one of the most historic runs in program history was over. St. Bonaventure finished 26-8.

26 wins was the most ever in a single season in program history. This included 8 and 13 game win streaks, and a 14-1 record at home. The only loss at the RC was to Niagara (go figure).

When looking back on this season, many people will remember the NCAA tournament games, or even just the fact that the Bonnies made it into the tournament.

But to me, it’s how they got there that makes the run so special. So many moments, big moments, that will be forgotten. After all, I didn’t even mention games such as the homecoming sellout win over Richmond, or Jaylen Adams’ game-winner in a 40-point performance at Duquesne.

However, this team will not be forgotten.

Neither will this senior class. Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley, and Idris Taqqee are the winning-est graduating class in St. Bonaventure history.

The Bonnies will have a brand-new look next year, and we have nearly eight months to debate about where the team will go from here. But for now, let’s appreciate all this year’s team gave to the school and the fans.

They gave me a freshman year I’ll never forget.

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Bonnies stun Bruins in first NCAA Tournament win since 1970

By Josh Svetz and Sean Lynch

The last time the St. Bonaventure Bonnies won a game in the NCAA Tournament, there were no cell phones, laptops and the fad known as disco was not even invented yet.

The alumni that lived around the time of Bonaventure’s 1970 Final Four run swear the Bonnies would have won the championship if Bob Lanier was healthy. The Bonnies would have got a shot against the UCLA Bruins, a powerhouse of the decade.

Over forty years later, those alumni can finally take solace in the game that wasn’t.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies, a school of fewer than 1,800 students, beat the UCLA Bruins, a school that has that many kids in its intro classes, 65-58, in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at University of Dayton Arena.

The Bruins came out on fire, going 5-5 from the field in the first four minutes and looked unbeatable defensively.

The Bonnies started flat, posting 2-7 from the field.

Jaylen Adams talked about handling the Bruins early hot streak.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Adams said. “We didn’t hang our head when they started making shots. We knew we would have our turn and we punched back.”

And punch back they did.

Bonnies’ head coach Mark Schmidt switched to a zone and the Bonnies forced consecutive turnovers to push their way back. The switch frustrated the Bruins, making them close out the half shooting 8-23 and a six-minute scoring drought. Even with star guard Jaylen Adams shooting 0-7, the Bonnies brought the score within one late in the first.

After some time to sit and get recomposed, Adams returned, finding Courtney Stockard for a drive and foul. Stockard sank two free throws.  After looking dead early, the Bonnies had their first lead of the day, 23-22.

The chants came rolling from the rafters of the UD Arena in Dayton, but they weren’t the usual chants of “Go Flyers.” Instead, a constant barrage of “Let’s go Bonas” rang out, turning Dayton, Ohio into Olean, New York for the night.

The Bruins continued to struggle with the crowd and the Bonnies’ pressure, as they held the highest scoring Pac-12 team to just six points in the last 14 minutes of the half. A last-second mid-range by Idris Taqqee gave the Bonnies a 28-23 lead at the half.

After halftime adjustments, both teams traded baskets quickly, neither team quite pulling away. The Bruins damn near tried, starting 6-7 from the field in the first 10 minutes of the second half and taking back the lead with a 5-5 field goal run. Adams continued to struggle from the field, bricking three after three.

Someone else had to step up. Someone had to be the hero.

It happened to be the player that some didn’t even think would play.

Courtney Stockard stepped up in his NCAA Tournament debut, scoring 26 points and grabbing four rebounds.

Stockard drove through the lane all night, taking on virtually the whole Bruins’ squad and made layups down the stretch.

Stockard talked about the process of going through the season and playing a high caliber UCLA Bruins team.

“Back in the offseason, we set some goals for ourselves,” Stockard said. “This is a special group of guys and when we set those goals, we knew what we had to do. We had our work cut out for us and we went out there and accomplished something big.”

Then, Matt Mobley woke up. A key three to extend the Bona lead electrified the crowd and as the song “Can’t Hold Us,” by Macklemore played throughout the arena, the decibel level suggested that literally, the ceiling couldn’t hold the bona fans. Just maybe, UD Arena might need a new roof.

But the Bruins didn’t quit. They found themselves in a hot streak of their own, capitalizing on open looks and mismatches within the zone defense of the Bonnies.

But after 39 minutes of misses, bad threes, even air balls, Adams made up for everything. With the game tied at 58, Adams came down the court and knocked down a jumper giving Bona’s the lead. Then, he stole the ball from Holiday, got fouled and made both free throws, sealing the game.

Adams said winning despite his struggles says a lot about the group of guys around him.

“It just shows what type of team we can beat,” Adams said. “ I couldn’t get into a rhythm, but my teammates picked me up.”

Head coach Mark Schmidt was sentimental about the whole tournament experience and his Bonaventure career up to that point in the press conference.

“It’s a special moment,” Schmidt said. “Some people said I shouldn’t take the (head coaching) job. For us to go from having three players to beating UCLA in eleven years, it’s something I’m really proud of.”

Schmidt continued to talk about the spirit of the team.

“We always talk about how we’re a bunch of misfits,” he said. “No one wanted us. We come to Bonaventure and work our tails off.”

With the win, the Bonnies advanced to the second round, where they will face 6th seed Florida on Thursday in Dallas, Texas at 9:57 p.m.

While Coach Schmidt and the Bonnies are buzzing from this victory, they’re already looking ahead to Thursday night, even the upcoming red eye.

“I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments, but we’re not done,” he said. “We can look at those records once this is finished. We want to continue and that 2 a.m. flight is going to be the best flight I’ve ever taken.”

 

 

 

Bonnies Survive Against Davidson in Triple Overtime Thriller, 117-113

By Jeff Uveino

When St. Bonaventure basketball coach Mark Schmidt walked into the postgame press conference at around 12:30 A.M. and said “It’s past my bed time,” he spoke for everyone in the room.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Davidson Wildcats, two of the top teams in the Atlantic-10, put the crowd through a gut-wrenching, triple-overtime game that didn’t conclude until 12:15 in the morning.

Five players scored over 30 points, eight players fouled out, and 79 free throws were attempted in this instant classic.

The Bonnies eventually prevailed, 117-113, but let’s rewind in order to recollect a night that will go down in Reilly Center history.

This game had everything, right from the start. Senior night. Unusually late 9 p.m. tip-off. No students due to spring break. The nearly 5,000-strong Reilly Center crowd was about to witness a special night.

Courtney Stockard started off the game hot for the Bonnies. The junior forward hit four three-pointers within the first four minutes of the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy before Davidson even knew what hit them. Stockard scored 17 points before any of his teammates got on the board. Early in the first half, it looked like the Bonnies could run away with this one.

However, the Wildcats’ sharpshooting swung the momentum, propelling them to a 41-37 lead at halftime.

“That was two really good teams going at each other and not one team taking a step back,” Schmidt said. “One team would hit a shot; the other team would go down and answer it.”

In the second half neither team found a way to pull ahead of the other. A constant buzz rang through the arena. It felt like the crowd was waiting to erupt as soon as a play warranted it.

The Bonnies’ offense kept them in the game down the stretch, but no matter what they did, they couldn’t find an answer for the Wildcats’ three-point shooting.

At the core of the Wildcats’ attack were two players, a senior and a freshman. Senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who leads the team in points at 20.5 PPG, seemed to always have an answer to stifle the Bonnies’ momentum down the stretch.

Aldridge finished with 45 points, including shooting 8-11 from beyond the arc.

Alongside him was freshman Kellan Grady, who finished with a career-high 39 points of his own. Grady didn’t miss a shot from the stripe, shooting an impressive 16-16 from the free throw line, including 8-8 during the overtime periods.

“Aldridge and Grady are two of the best players in our league and they showed it tonight,” Schmidt said.

The teams traded blows throughout the second half, then with a minute to play Grady drove to the hoop and went up and over a Bona defender for the dunk. The basket put the Wildcats up by a point.

After a Bona miss at the other end, Aldridge was fouled and sent to the line for the Wildcats. He made just one of his two free throws, putting the Bonnies down by two with four seconds left to play.

In a last-ditch effort, Bonnies forward LaDarien Griffin drove to the basket and scored as time expired, sending the game to overtime with a score of 78-78.

The first overtime began with a downpour of three pointers. Aldridge and Bona guards Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams all hit from downtown, keeping the back-and-forth theme alive.

Adams hit threes on consecutive possessions for the Bonnies, bringing the crowd to its feet. However, Aldridge came firing right back as he had the entire game.

Still deadlocked, the Bonnies and the Wildcats went to the second overtime period, 91-91.

After a big Mobley three early in the period to put them up by five, things were looking good for the Bonnies. However, with 1:24 left in the second overtime, Jaylen Adams picked up his fifth foul.

Adams finished with 34 points and 5 assists, leaving Bonnies fans wondering if they could pull out a win with their star player on the bench. Although annoyed, Adams said he had to keep his composure for the team.

“I was just nervous that I couldn’t finish the game for my team,” Adams said. “But at the same time, I needed to turn into another coach on the bench.”

With 19 seconds to play in the second overtime, Kellan Grady sunk two free throws to force a third overtime with the game knotted up at 100.

Hey, what’s five more minutes of basketball? As the clock approached midnight, the energy in the Reilly Center didn’t dwindle. It was on another level, something Coach Schmidt made note of.

“Give kudos out to our community,” Schmidt said. “Without the students here, they rallied around us. They came, and they were terrific.”

Two Kellan Grady free throws opened the third overtime. On the ensuing Bonnies possession, Courtney Stockard was called for a charge, his fifth foul.

Stockard left the game with a career-high 31 points.

The St. Bonaventure bench was starting to thin, but things evened out shortly after Stockard fouled out.

On the next Davidson possession, Aldridge was called for a foul away from the ball, his fifth of the night. Players were dropping like flies at the hands of the officials, and it looked like this game might turn into a battle of the benches.

Two more players fouled out shortly after; Wildcat senior Oskar Michelsen, and Bonnies senior Idris Taqqee.

The Bonnies found themselves trailing by three half way through the third overtime. But then, the Bonnies caught a break. Junior guard Nelson Kaputo was fouled while putting up a three, sending him to the line with a chance to tie the game. Kaputo, who shoots nearly 95% from the stripe, sunk all three to tie the game.

The Wildcats took the ball down the court and set up shop. Grady drove, put up a shot, and was blocked by freshman Izaiah Brockington. The referees initially ruled that the ball went out off St. Bonaventure, but after review gave the ball to the Bonnies.

“I thought Izaiah did a really good job (on defense) against a really good player,” Schmidt said.

With less than two minutes remaining, a big dunk from freshman Tshiefu “the Chef” Ngalakulondi put the Bonnies up 110-108. From there, they would never look back.

The rest of the game was a free throw shooting contest in which the Bonnies prevailed. After three long overtimes, they outlasted Davidson, 117-113.

Coach Schmidt commented on his team’s ability to pull out a win in a game that was a real grind.

“We showed some toughness,” he said. “I told the team after the first overtime, someone was going to have to step up off the bench that hasn’t played, and we did.”

The Bonnies certainly received contributions from up and down the roster, as two of the biggest plays of the game came late in the third overtime from freshmen. Schmidt was not the only one who had high praise for the Bonnies bench. Star guard Jaylen Adams also commented on the vitality of their contributions.

“Credit to the bench for finishing the way they finished,” Adams said. “The majority of guys who played the last 10 minutes are guys that usually get under 20 minutes a game, so credit to them for stepping up and making plays down the stretch.”

Senior guard Matt Mobley, who finished with 33 points and played the entire 55 minutes of the contest for the Bonnies, said he never came close to throwing in the towel.

“I just told the guys that we weren’t going to leave until we got the win,” Mobley said. “When Jay and Courtney fouled out, I knew I had to try to get good looks on offense.”I was fortunate enough to get to the foul line which helped a lot. I’m just thankful for the win.”

Mobley also spoke about the toll that playing the whole game took on him physically.

“You start to get a little cramping, but you just need to fight through it,” he said. “The game means too much.”

Coach Schmidt had high praise for his seniors on the night that they were honored, pinning much of the team’s success on them.

“You’re only as good as your seniors,” he said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are right now without Idris, Matt, and Jay. Those three seniors will never forget this day the rest of their lives. It’s special, and I’m glad I was a part of it.”

It certainly was a special night for the seniors, for St. Bonaventure, and for college basketball. I’d have to speculate that there will be a good amount of “sick days” taken in Olean on Wednesday, and for good reason. The crowd at the RC witnessed one of the best basketball games they’ll ever see.

Jaylen Adams’ postgame emotions sum the night up well.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is a special game, I’m just glad I could be a part of it.”

Bonnies Keep Conference Streak Alive with Tenth Win Against VCU 68-63

By: Sean Lynch

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies outlasted the VCU Rams and won their tenth game in a row in Atlantic 10 Conference play at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia.

Senior Guard Jaylen Adams had another important performance for the Bonnies. Adams finished with 21 points, four rebounds and six assists.

Junior Forward Courtney Stockard stepped up for the Bonnies with a huge double-double. Stockard had 21 points along with 14 rebounds in a big effort on both sides of the ball.

The beginning of the first half was marred by sloppy play. The Bonnies and Rams traded missed shots and turnovers in the first three minutes until Adams broke the scoreless tie with a three-pointer at the 17:56 mark.

The Rams broke off a 10-0 run against the Bonnies late in the first half. Consistent takes from Senior Forwards Justin Tillman and Khris Lane. The Rams closed out the first half with a 30-29 lead over St. Bonaventure. Turnovers were a huge problem for both teams as the Bonnies finished with 12 and the Rams with 10.

A 5-0 run got the Bonnies to a 33-30 lead at the start of the second half. Another run gave the Bonnies an 8-0 momentum push until the 13:49 mark.

After a back and forth affair into the closing minutes. Senior Guard Matt Mobley pushed the lead to four with a late three to put the game at 58-54 with 3:08 left in the game.

After trading buckets, the game stood at 65-61 with 23 seconds left. After Mobley was fouled and went 1-2 from the line, the Bonnies had the lead at 66-61. The Bonnies would close out the game with 2-2 from the line for Adams and a missed shot from Sophomore Forward Issac Vann.

Turnovers proved to be both a problem and a big help for the Bonnies as they turned the ball over 17 times, but VCU had 18 turnovers.

With the win, the Bonnies are tied with the Duquesne Dukes for second place in the A10 with a 12-4. The Bonnies will square off next against the Davidson Wildcats for Senior Night on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

Adams Career Night Pushes Bonnies Past Bilikens 79-56

By: Mike Hogan

What. A. Night.

As I was sitting in my seat on press row before the game flipping through the pregame notes, a few things caught my eye.

One was that Matt Mobley was just two points away from 1,000 career points, and the second was that Jaylen Adams was just 32 points away from cracking the top ten on the Bonaventure all-time scoring list.

As I read that, I felt a special feeling about tonight. I had a funny feeling that another  Adams-like explosion was going to happen, and boy did it ever.

While the Bonnies got off to a little bit of a sluggish start and found themselves down early in the game, that didn’t last for long. The Jaylen Adams show began early, and it just kept going.

The Bonnies defense looked elite tonight, and it was a big reason why they were able to get their offense cooking in the middle to end of the first half. They forced the Billikens into 16 turnovers and scored 21 off of those turnovers.

St. Louis head coach, Travis Ford, was disappointed in his team tonight, and it showed in the postgame presser. He walked away from tonight most upset about the turnovers and lackluster offensive play.

“Turnovers,” Ford said. “That’s what it comes down to, we didn’t take care of the ball.”

While he was disappointed with turnovers, he also had some insights about Jaylen Adams’ night and how his defense performed overall.

“He had a great performance, no question,” said Ford. “A lot of good tough shots. I don’t know if anything would have worked. A lot of those shots over a bigger guy that we had on him. You know, when you get to that point against a guy playing as well as Adams, and I’ve won games against guys who have played like that, possessions become so important. They’re making three’s and we’re turning it over, that’s a really bad combination.”

Matt Mobley had a quiet night, but still made history scoring his 1,000th career point, becoming the 15th player in Bonnies history to join that club.

While that was impressive to see in person, what we saw from Jaylen Adams tonight was beyond believable. Let’s just keep in mind that four days ago Adams set a career high with 40 points against Duquense, but that meant nothing because he just followed that performance up with 44 points. A new career high.

Not only did he set a new career high for points in a game, but he also set a single game record for most threes in a game by a Bona player with ten, and became the first Bonnies player to have back to back 40 point games since 1969.

We undoubtedly witnessed the best shooting performance in Bonaventure history tonight. Adams shot 10-13 from three, and 14-18 overall. He missed four shots. Four.

As I sat on press row watching this happen, I couldn’t help but think back to pregame warmups where I read through the program and had a funny feeling that the Jaylen Adams show was going to occur again. And, man, was the Reilly Center rocking. It was an unreal atmosphere. Electric.

“Jay was playing like the player of the year,” said Bonnies Head coach Mark Schmidt. “St. Louis cut it down to three, and Jay just took over the game from there. I think I was in that zone (referring to Jay) back in my CYL days when I was eight years old playing with six foot high rims.”

The conversation in the media room turned to other forty point performances that have gone down in the Reilly center, but Schmidt noted that this was different from others such as Andrew Nicholson.

“It’s different. Andrew’s were a lot of dunks and layups, and Jay made a lot of shots where there was pressure, and guys were getting into him,” said Schmidt. “For Jay to score this many points and only miss four shots, that speaks volumes.”

Jaylen Adams had a swagger to him tonight, and he wasn’t afraid to show that on the court and express it postgame with the media.

“Early on I was able to get some shots to go. I got some easy ones in transition that got me going early,” said Adams. “Once I made my first couple, it felt like I couldn’t miss out there. I was just blacking out, and letting the game come to me. They were playing the screens a little different tonight, and they backed off on some of them,” said Adams. “That allowed me to get some space and shoot.”

While Jaylen Adams has had a remarkable career as a Bonnie, there is no denying that he is making his last season his best. With back to back 40 plus point performances, Adams is arguably playing the best basketball of his career.

“I would just say the preparation in the gym before the games,” said Adams. “I had a really good week in the gym, and it payed off. I just had a good week in the gym. For me, it’s never been about individual accolades. Obviously I want to continue to do what I’ve done in the last two games, but I am just trying to will some wins.”

While Jaylen Adams has been on historical run that fans and media will never forget, the Bonnies have obviously been playing their best basketball of the season over the last five games. While a slow start in conference play seemed to suck the air out of the Bonnies high hopes, air has since been blown back into the Bonnies and gave them new life.

As a team, the Bonnies are playing better defense, and better team offense. There is a flow, a rhythm to this team right now. If the Bonnies ultimate goal is the field of sixty-four, playing like this down the final stretch with a lot of crucial games to be played, playing like they have been in the last five will certainly help.

Bonnies Win Thriller Against Duquesne 84-81

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.

Bonnies Drop Fourth Straight A10 Conference Game To Patriots 76-63

By: Nicholas Gallo

George Mason University (17-6, 6-3 Atlantic 10) ran the table against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (7-16, 2-8 Atlantic 10), defeating them by a score of 76-63 at the Reilly Center.

George Mason’s graduate center, Natalie Butler dropped 22 points and had 16 rebounds in her performance against the Bonnies. The Bonnies are now on a four-game losing streak, as they currently have a conference record of 2-8 and a home record of 5-6 at the Reilly Center.

The Bonnies started off strong defensively by blocking shots, going on the fast-break, and ending the first quarter only down one.

The Bonnies would hold up Butler, who averages 17.7 points per game and 15.8 rebounds a game to two points and two rebounds with the score at 15-16.

Head Coach of the Bonnies Jesse Fleming said they did a solid job on her defensively for a stretch but not for the whole game.

“I thought Butler was getting looks that were coming off our turnovers and bad shots,” said Fleming. “When we were getting crossed match in transition, we were trying to front her in the post, but you can’t front her because she’s just going to catch it over the top and score.”

Fleming added that when trying to double her, their five-man needed to stay home and bring their four to double. He said because of their miscues, they couldn’t get the double teams they wanted.

George Mason came out firing going on a 13-0 run in the second quarter. Fleming said they couldn’t make a shot.

“There have been times during the year where we haven’t made a shot because we haven’t run our offense,” Fleming said. “I thought tonight we were executing our offense and we were able to get some looks in transition and in the half-court.”

With 1:30 left in the second quarter, George Mason was up 33-21 after a made layup by junior guard, Camden Musgrave. The Bonnies made a short run in the final minutes of the quarter with back-to-back threes by junior guard, Mckenna Maycock, ending the half down 33-27.

George Mason would go on a 25-point outburst in the third quarter and the Bonnies could not keep up. George Mason was able to stretch their lead to 13 with 7:21 left. George Mason would own their largest lead in the game in the third quarter by 17 points with 34 seconds left to play.

“I thought we really played better despite playing poorly in the second half,” said Fleming. “I thought we competed on the boards, I thought we really moved the ball and looked to attack, despite not always being perfect, I did like our energy.”

Junior Bonas forward, Arielle Harvey, would rack up another career high at Bonas with 22 points on 54% shooting from the field. Fleming said that Harvey’s scoring outbursts are finally coming out these last two games.

“We recruited Arielle for what she is, a scorer,” said Fleming. “She can create her own shot, make three’s, she can get fouled, and we have been begging her to score.”

Fleming expressed that she was a junior-college player, so it has taken her some-time to get some comfort and now she’s starting to show her talents. He said she’s is a talented player and the stuff she does in practice and workouts is special.

Freshman forward, Abagail Johnson would return to the roster for the game as she would have to face the challenges of Butler on defense.

“It was tough for her guard Butler tonight,” said Fleming. “I thought the moving screen foul was tough on her and with her battling foul trouble, she didn’t play much in the end of the game, but she is only going to get better from her.”

The lady Bonas will finish their home-stretch of games on Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Reilly Center at 1 p.m. as they will face the University of George Washington. George Washington defeated George Mason on Jan. 7, 62-52. The Bonnies will look to protect home-court and get back on the winning track.

 

Hatred of losing drives Ayeni

By Justin Myers

For sophomore Josh Ayeni, being a better player for his team and himself was a major point of emphasis going into the season.

“(I’m focused on) just being the best player that I can be and doing my best for the team, so we can win games,” Ayeni said.

The 6-foot-8 forward is looking to build off his strong freshman campaign where he earned 24 starts and played in all 32 games. He finished sixth on the team in scoring with 6.7 points per game and averaged 2.6 rebounds.

He also scored in double figures 10 times, the most by a Bonaventure freshman in Atlantic-10 play since Andrew Nicholson’s 21 times in 2008-09.

During the off-season Ayeni worked on many things to improve his game.

“I worked on my three-point shot, consistency and just being a better rebounder” he said.

As a freshman, Ayeni worked hard to adjust to the fast pace of Division I basketball.

“I think it’s the pace of going up and down the court,” Ayeni said. “High school ball is slower and college ball is faster and more technical”.

However, one thing Ayeni didn’t have to adjust was his passion.

“I hate to lose,” he said. “I feel like that drives me to play harder every time and try to win”.

Ayeni, a native of Nigeria, grew up in a different environment compared to the United States.

“Obviously the weather is hotter than Olean,” he said. “In Nigeria, when you’re learning to play basketball they only teach big guys how to play basketball. You have to be really tall to play basketball. But in (the United States) you see little kids of all sizes learning to play.”

Ayeni came to the United States in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since.

“There’s some great people here,” Ayeni said. “it’s a great place to be.”