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.