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.

Advertisements

Preview: Bonnies take on Gators in NCAA Tournament

By Jeff Uveino

It’s one of the most anticipated days of the year for college hoops fans—the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament.

With 16 games scheduled for today, the eyes of the sporting world will once again be on college basketball. However, for fans of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies; only one game really matters.

The No. 11 Bonnies (25-7) will take on the No. 6 Florida Gators (20-12) at 9:55 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament on truTV.

The Bonnies are coming off a 65-58 win over the UCLA Bruins in the ‘First Four’ round in Dayton, Ohio. Now, the Bonnies get to travel to Dallas, Texas to take on a Gators team that went 11-7 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. Despite winning their final three regular season games, the Gators were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament by the Arkansas Razorbacks. Florida owns several wins over other tournament teams this season, including Gonzaga, Auburn, and two wins against Kentucky

The Gators have enjoyed recent tournament success, including trips to at least the Elite Eight in five straight seasons. In the 2017 NCAA tournament, Florida lost a heart breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks, denying them a trip to the Final Four.

The Gators have scorers up and down their roster, averaging 76 points per game. They are led by junior guard Jalen Hudson, who averages 15.3 points per game. Egor Koulechov, a senior guard from Russia, averages 13.6 points per game. Other key contributors are guards KeVaugh Allen and Chris Chiozza, who average 13.6 and 13.5 points, respectively. Chiozza also averages 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, making him a central part of the Gators offense.

While the sunshine of Gainesville, Florida is far from the snow covered tundras of Allegany, New York; the Bonnies and Gators aren’t strangers.

Just last year, the Bonnies and Gators met at Florida in a close and competitive game resulting in a 73-66 loss.

Senior Idris Taqqee remembers the game against the Gators last year. Now, with a better team and a chance to see them on a neutral court, Taqqee said the Bonnies are ready for another shot against them.

“It’s already a rematch so we want to get that revenge,” Taqqee said. ” We want this. We’re hungry.”

Part of the path to getting that revenge is showing up defensively. The Bonnies used a stymieing zone defensive scheme to slow down the Bruins last game as they try for similar results against the Gators.  The Bonnies forced 20 UCLA turnovers, including 10 by their star guard Aaron Holiday.

Another key to the Bonnies’ First Four win was the play of Courtney Stockard, who scored 26 points. Stockard, a junior forward, is the X-factor in a Bonnies attack that features two high-scoring senior guards; Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.

Adams averages 19.4 points and 5.3 assists per game, and Mobley averages 18.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Bonnies shoot nearly 40% from three point range, and their shooting will be a key as to whether they will be able to pull off an upset.
The winner of this game will play either Texas Tech or Stephen F. Austin on Saturday with a trip to the ‘Sweet 16’ at stake.

Junior LaDarien Griffin, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, knows the Gators pretty well. He grew up watching them and even played AAU with Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes.

He couldn’t hold back his excitement when asked about getting a second chance to beat the Gators.

“I used to watch those great teams that they had in awe.” Griffin said. “You grow up and it’s always the goal to beat those type of teams and now we get that chance. I can’t wait man, I can’t wait to play them!”

Bonnies NCAA Tournament Preview: First Four

By: Jeff Uveino

“You dream as a player to play in the big dance.”

That’s what St. Bonaventure Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said in his press conference after the Atlantic-10 tournament this past weekend, and it’s what his Bonnies will be doing on Tuesday.

For the first time since 2012, the Bonnies are back in the NCAA tournament.

After receiving an at-large bid, St. Bonaventure will travel to Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday to play in the ‘First Four’ round.

The Bonnies will take on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins at 9:10 P.M. for the right to become the 11th seed in the Eastern Regional and face 6th seeded Florida.

This will be the first matchup between the Bonnies (25-7) and the Bruins (21-11) in over 40 years. Their last meeting came in 1975, when UCLA rolled over the Bonnies on the way to a National Championship.

UCLA comes in at 21-11, including an 11-7 record in their conference (the Pacific 12). They were eliminated in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament via an overtime loss to the Arizona Wildcats, who enter the NCAA tournament as a 4th seed.

The Bruins have a good amount of offensive firepower, averaging nearly 82 points per game. They rank 2nd in the Pac-12 and 28th in the nation in scoring.

The Bruins offense is led by junior guard Aaron Holiday. Holiday can shoot it with the best of them, averaging 20.3 points per game. He is an 83% free throw shooter, and 43% three point shooter. Holiday scored 34 points in back-to-back games in the Pac-12 tournament, in wins over USC and Stanford.

Another factor into the UCLA attack that could trouble the Bonnies is their size. The Bruins start three players who are 6’8 and taller, including 6’8 freshman forward Kris Wilkes, 6’11 senior forward Gyorgy Goloman, and 7’0 senior center Thomas Welsh.

Welsh averages 13 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and poses a significant threat under the basket. Wilkes averages 13.7 points per game, and Goloman averages 7.3 PPG. Welsh and Goloman can also shoot it from downtown, as they both average over 40% shooting from three point range.

The Bonnies big men will be faced with the task of slowing down this attack from under the basket, which will be no easy task given their recent injury problems. Bonnies forwards Courtney Stockard and Josh Ayeni both suffered injuries during the Atlantic-10 tournament in Washington, DC this past weekend, and their status for Tuesday is still up in the air.

Stockard suffered a hamstring injury during the Bonnies quarterfinal win over the Richmond Spiders, and did not play during their semifinal loss to the Davidson Wildcats. Ayeni went down with an apparent knee injury during the Davidson game, and did not return.

No official word has come out about Stockard yet, but sources have told the Intrepid he’s probable to play. Ayeni is currently questionable, though sources said they don’t expect him to play.

St. Bonaventure will still have forwards Amadi Ikpeze (4.7 PPG) and LaDarien Griffin (8.7 PPG) for starters, as well as Tshiefu Ngalakulondi (2.3 PPG) off the bench.

Getting healthy, as well as controlling the glass, will be big factors if the Bonnies want to be successful on Tuesday.

Despite the challenges the Bruins bring to the table, Coach Schmidt is confident in his team’s ability.

“We won thirteen straight games, had some huge non-conference wins, and some big wins in our league,” he said. “I don’t think there was a hotter team going into the postseason than us.”

The Bonnies will look to their high-scoring guards to keep pace with UCLA, including seniors Jaylen Adams (19.8 PPG) and Matt Mobley (18.5 PPG).

Mobley earned A-10 All-Championship Team honors last weekend after his performance in the conference tournament, including making 9-of-13 three pointers in a 29-point outing against Richmond.

Coach Schmidt has been to the NCAA tournament before, appearing three times as a player at Boston College. However, none of his current players have, and he knows that they will be getting an opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s probably the best day of your life as a college basketball player [when selected],” he said. “They deserve to have those goosebumps.”

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 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.

Lights Out: A first-person account of the game that wasn’t

By Jeff Uveino

Walking into the Reilly Center Wednesday night felt as normal as any other game day.

The students filing in, the teams shooting around and Kodak Black echoing through the loudspeakers–just a typical pregame in the RC. At 6:30 p.m., the St. Bonaventure Men’s basketball team prepared to play the Hawks of University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

As the teams took warm-ups, I noticed that several lights above where UMES was shooting were out.

My initial reaction was that this was a tactical move: make the opponents warm up in the dark while we warm up in the light. An obscure strategy, but perhaps a slight advantage. Boy, was I wrong.

Shortly after noticing the lights were out, I got word that it was because of a power outage in the arena, quite an interesting development for my first time covering a Bonnies game.

Rumors spiraled around about the source of the outage and how it would affect the game, but it seemed as if no one knew for certain. Security guards, media personnel, and curious students searched for answers.

But one thing was for sure; we would have to wait.

The planned start time of 7 p.m. came and went, as the teams continued to shoot around. The scoreboards were now completely out, as was the jumbotron over center court.

A smiling Jaylen Adams hobbled around the floor, shooting with his team despite the boot he wore to protect his sprained ankle and the obvious notion of being ruled out for the contest.

More time passed. Still nothing.

Behind the scenes, the lights in the halls and media room flickered. There appeared to be lights on around other parts of campus, but no signs of progress in the Reilly Center.

Around 8 p.m., an announcement was made in the arena that National Grid would be testing the power in an attempt to have the game played. The Reilly Center, the crowd was told, would go almost completely dark for about 15 minutes.

Phone lights came on throughout the stands, electricians scrambled around campus, and “Let’s go Bonas” chants continued to cry out intermittently, as they had for nearly two hours at this point.

St. Bonaventure University President Dr. Dennis DePerro even tried his hand at a few foul shots to entertain the crowd.

Suddenly, around 8:30 p.m., the power flashed back on, sending the relatively quiet student section into a frenzy.

It appeared as if the problem had been fixed, and the game would be played after all. I couldn’t help but think that this game would be remembered for a long time as something along the lines of the “power outage game,” and be added to Reilly Center lore.

But it didn’t end there.

Everyone back into place, the Bonnies ran out to warm up once again. The crowd was alive, and Twitter was going crazy trying to keep up with what exactly was going on.

However, Matt Mobley barely had time to lead the team out and drop in a lay-up before the jumbotron went dark with an abrupt bang.

Next were the scoreboards on the ends of the gym, then the overhead lights.

At this point, the night was starting to feel like a nightmare.

The teams retreated back into the locker rooms, and everyone anxiously waited once again to hear a final word on what the outcome of the game would be.

The crowd was thinning, but those remaining could still be heard.

You could feel the collective frustration bouncing around the arena.

The players wanted to play, the coaches wanted to coach, and the Wolf Pack wanted to be the Wolf Pack.

At approximately 8:35 pm, the official announcement was made that the game would not be played. The arena was empty in an instant.

The decision was made that the game would be ruled a “no contest,” meaning that it would not count toward the record of either team. Rumors that the home team would have to forfeit if the game was not played were shot down in an instant, and a frustrated Bonas community went on its way.

After the game, barely a soul could be found throughout the arena.

The only people left were a few scattered security guards making sure everyone exited safely. After all—the power was scheduled to go out for another test in 5 minutes, as was announced. Leftover pizza sat under the continually-flickering lights of the media room.

After the frenzy of events was over, I had to take a few minutes to make sense of what had just happened.

After a heartbreaking loss to Niagara University last Friday night, now Bonas fans had to go through this? An unpredictable and unforgettable start to a season where many experts had the Bonnies making the NCAA tournament.

St. Bonaventure’s next game will be played Saturday afternoon vs Jackson State University at 4:00 pm. Who knows what will happen next? Bonnies fans have already had enough disappointment and bewilderment for a whole season.

If one thing is for sure, it is that November 15, 2017 in the Reilly Center is a day that will be remembered around the community for years to come. A decade from now, alumni and staff will reminisce:

“Remember the night when the power went out? Twice?”

I certainly won’t forget.